Challenges of student attendance in student-directed learning: a case study
Abstract: This paper considers historical patterns of attendance in an undergraduate video game development course sequence. The course in question is divided into two types of lessons: 1) a set of rote, pre-defined individual exercises, followed by 2) an open-ended, student-directed, group-based game development project, with the rote instruction occurring early in the semester and the student-directed work occurring after the midterm exam. While attendance rates went up after the midterm, the rate of tardiness also went up – dramatically. This observed trend ran counter to the instructors' expectations as it was assumed the early lessons that required greater instructor-to-student transmission of information, and thus necessarily more face-to-face time, would be associated with more positive attendance metrics, while the more open-ended student-directed learning would be associated with more negative attendance metrics. Our expectation then was that tardiness and attendance would co-vary with one another. That this was not observed was surprising. As this work was observational rather than experimental, we put forth a number of hypotheses as a foundation for future experimental studies that could examine this phenomena in a more formal causal format.