Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


One of the biggest problems facing professors in the Social Science Division at the Annandale Campus of Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) is poor classroom attendance on the part of some student. When students miss classes they often miss important announcements that impact directly on their grades, as well as learning experiences that are obviously grade-related. Furthermore, the cumulative effect of a combination of missed classes and low grades caused by absenteeism contributes to dropping out of college. One purpose of this MARP was to determine the causes and measure the relative contribution of each cause to the problem of absenteeism. A second purpose was to reduce the magnitude of the problem by distributing reports about absenteeism and conducting a workshop on improving classroom attendance. Two open-ended approaches were used to generate a list of potential reasons for missing social science classes. One approach involved searching the research literature for reasons, while the other strategy was to survey 106 students about the reasons why they might miss classes. The combination of these two approaches ultimately led to 51 reasons for missing class that appeared on the Class Attendance Survey in Likert scale format. The internal reliability of these items was .96 as determined by Cronbach’s Alpha. The dependent variable on the survey was the number of absences reported by each student for the class in which the survey was taken. A validity check on the dependent variable was made by calculating the Pearson Product-moment correlation between the number of reported absences and the actual number of absences as determined by taking roll. This coefficient was .92. The survey was administered in class on or about the last class day by 24 social science professors to 25 classes. This resulted in 402 usable surveys, of which 351 were complete. A factor analysis of the independent variables yielded six factors with eigenvalues greater than 1.0 and factor loadings higher than .50. Four of the six entered a stepwise multiple regression equation. They combined to produce an F value of 6.13, which was significant well beyond the .01 level. In descending order of their beta weights they were labeled “fatigue associated with excessive socializing,” “low attendance incentives,” “irresponsible pursuit of leisure,” and “external responsibilities.” F values for each of the beta weights were significant at the .05 level or better. Several recommendations for reducing absenteeism were made, including: scheduling more short course; calling the roll often; giving immediate feedback on student work; emphasizing the importance of the subject matter; reducing the number of required courses; making sure that classroom experiences are related to evaluation; and giving tests frequently. Some other strategies that might work include: personalizing the school and particularly each course; combining reward for attendance with penalties for absenteeism; and allowing students to attend a different section of the same course. Several methods for disseminating the recommendations of the study were implemented. They included giving a workshop on absenteeism, presenting an abbreviated version of this MARP report to key administrative personnel and sending it simultaneously to ERIC for publication, and jointly issuing a brief report on absenteeism with NVCC’s Office of Institutional Research.

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