Teaching psychology in Australia: Does class attendance matter for performance?

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The value of course attendance is well documented, and has been linked to improved performance in the past. The current study aimed to add to this body of knowledge by examining a robust sample of students (six cohorts across two content domains) within the context of psychology undergraduate courses and specifically within Australian universities. To date, little data is available focusing on the issue of class attendance for psychology students in Australia.


Data were collected from students during classes using paper and pencil questionnaires in which previous grades and attendance were recorded along with student number. Student number was subsequently matched to observed final grades which were recorded, before the student number was deleted to provide a de-identified data set.


Using hierarchical linear modelling we found that course attendance was positively related to objective performance, providing additional findings to bolster evidence for the relationship between course attendance and objective performance while controlling for self-reported past academic performance. Furthermore, we did not find any significant variance in this relationship across course content, attesting to the robust nature of the link between class attendance and performance.


Our data pre-date the major innovations in online teaching of the last few years, but the findings provide an important baseline and arguably have practical implications for the teaching of psychology within Australian universities.

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