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Why Aren’t Students Attending Non-Mandatory Classes? A BCM212 Portfolio

I have attended university for nearly two years now, and whilst that can seem like no time compared to other individuals, there is something that even a first-year student could recognise (and probably relate too)… The lack of attendance in classes where students are not required to attend.  Admittedly, reflecting on this ‘movement’, I am one of the guilty individuals that do not attend my classes if they are not mandatory.

When we were assigned this task in BCM212, we were asked to look along the ‘university student experience’ when deciding a topic and jokingly, I laughed and said, the number of classes we do not attend. As much as this received a laugh from my tutor and the class, I found myself thinking about this idea during the class more and more. Why is this? Why do students pick to miss a class if we are not required to attend it? Do we just blame it on the ‘this generation is lazy’ idea, or is there something more to it other than simply laziness? What really influences our decision to pick non-attendance?

Those students who attended the most class achieved a better
academic performance which was reflected in the final mark


Obviously, this task was aimed for students taking BCM212 which is a core subject for students completing a Bachelor of Communications and Media at the University of Wollongong. To answer my questions, I used the aid of Twitter polls and a survey which received 50 responses. On top of this, I was regularly researching the topic online and seeing what others had said about this issue, specifically fellow students.

I began my research by asking my cohort on the BCM212 Twitter hashtag whether they do or don’t attend their non-mandatory classes and as to why this could be.

Twitter poll that was conducted

I found that I received a quick and fairly large response. With 28 participants in the poll, 39.3% came back and responded that they don’t attend class simply just because they cannot be bothered to attend them. Following that response, I received that the following 28.6% did not attend those classes in order to attend work. This is closely followed by social reasons being 17.9% and health reasons, 14.35%. Not only did this initial research question confirm to me how relevant this topic is but also gave me a head start in gathering research.

Students seem to be picking work a large amount of the time over attending their non-mandatory classes. Coming to conclusions this could be because of the demand that students undergo to work and earn an income to afford bills and other costs in their lives, so they feel like they have . This however is an entirely different topic.

A study conducted asked a remarkably similar question that I pose. They performed research in the aim of better understanding students and their attendance of face to face and the factors that influence why they chose to attend or not to. James and Seary’s study raised similar reasons as my twitter poll did as to why student pick missing non-mandatory classes. These reasons being health, finance, and academic ability.  (James T & Seary K 2019).

To gather more research in a more in-depth manner, I released a survey for my fellow BCM212 students to participate in. This survey received a total of 50 responses, and each are especially unique as the other. All responses were anonymous, and the date has only been used for this piece of work. Overall, when looking at my responses, the first thing I can notice is where the survey separates my participants into 2 sections. Those who miss non-mandatory classes, and those that attend all their classes. This created a separation where I could ask more in depth and specific questions to individuals that miss these classes.

Out of 50 respondents, a total of 66% did not attend all of their mandatory classes, this comes to 33 people. This was important because out of my restricted sample, I could then discover that 17 people attend all their classes, confirming that not all students decide to miss their classes, but unfortunately over half do.

I then proceeded to ask those individuals how many non-mandatory lectures and tutorials they attended. Interestingly enough, 11 people (33.3%) of individuals occasionally attend their lectures, closely followed by 9 people (27.3%) that attend their lectures rarely. Only 1 person (3%) picked that they always attend their lectures.

Whereas in the case of tutorials, we see the most popular answer is fairly often with 7 respondents, making it 26.9% of my sample. Closely followed by some times, which was a total of 5 people, (19.2%). I also had one respondent select that they never attend their tutorials, being the only one, they constituted 3.8% of this question.

Overall, this is an interesting result as it breaks down the specific number of tutorials etc that the student attends. But does not explain the reasons as to why students choose to miss non-mandatory classes. Therefore, I also asked a few questions specifically as to why individuals pick to miss these classes.

Out of 33 respondents, 21 (63.6%) selected that they are simply not bothered to attend their classes. Soon followed by 14 individuals selecting that they miss these classes because if work reasons. Interestingly enough, 11 people selected the other option, I then proceeded to ask them to expand on this if they were able to.

One participant claimed that “I find I can work on my assignment in my own time, at my own pace and attending tutorials would be a waste of time for me” which is along the lines of a few other responses that came in, especially along the lines that individuals feel like they are ‘wasting’ their time and don’t learn anything valuable. Students also made comment that it comes down to the teacher if they attend the class. Someone said they would be more likely to attend their classes if their classes were ‘more engaging’.

This is interesting to find that the students feel that they are not achieving their full potential in their studies and classes, so they feel the need to miss classes if they are not mandatory. So as a researcher, I must question what impacts this decision, do students honestly believe their classes are pointless? Is this a result of teachers and their methods of teaching?  

A 2014 study conducted by the scientific journal PNAS, found that students in classes with traditional lecturing and learning methods were 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in environments with active learning. (Freeman 2014). When I ask what can make students more likely to attend these classes, it has to be questioned if the teaching methods of some teachers in todays society are just not as engaged as students wish them to be? Is this something I could have gathered more research on knowing it now?

Upon reflection, overall, I wish I had done more one on one interaction with participants, possibly with interviews. I found that in my survey whilst I gathered a lot of quantitative information, I seemed to have noticeably short and dismissive information when asking for further qualitative responses.  But in conclusion, there are many reasons as to why students do not attend non-mandatory classes, majority of the time, each answer is different. Many can argue that it may be the teaching methods, others may argue it is the lazy streak of the generation. But in reality there is no exact answer as we all pick our own choices for different reasons in our life.

Bibliography –

James, T., & Seary, K.(2019). Why aren’t they attending class like they are supposed to? A review into students’ perception of the value of class attendance.Student Success, 10(1), 115-129

Navarro Jover, J. and Martínez Ramírez, J., 2017. Academic Performance, Class Attendance And Seating Location Of University Students In Practical Lectures.

Clay, T. and Breslow, L., 2006. Why Students Don’t Attend Class. [online] Available at: <;

Massingham, P. and Herrington, T., 2006. Does Attendance Matter? An Examination Of Student Attitudes, Participation, Performance And Attendance. [online] Available at: <;

S. Freeman, S. L. Eddy, M. McDonough, M. K. Smith, N. Okoroafor, H. Jordt, M. Pat Wenderoth 2014. Active Learning Increases Student Performance in Science, Engineering and Mathematics [online] Available at: <>


Published by Alex Cooper

UOW Communication and Media Student - Majoring in Digital and Social Media - Minoring in Graphic Design

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