Low attendance is one of the many concerns which teachers experience during virtual learning. Due to limited human experience during online classes and lack of surveillance, students do not show up as often in class as they otherwise do; even if they are shown present, they are actually sleeping off the class only to wake up at the time when the roll call begins. This is a major problem because it directly impacts the delivery of quality education.
Despite the difficult nature of this problem, we can still mitigate it through certain methods. You may want to create your own methods to engage students as much as you can and improve attendance record; however, in case you need ideas, I have a few to suggest. Let us consider a few things which can help you.
Here are 6 things to note for encouraging better student response and increasing attendance.
- Ask Questions
One of the things you should do is to ensure participation. How you ask. Well, a simple method is to raise questions during the lecture. You can ask anyone from the audience to volunteer but may want to randomly choose students.
Consider choosing those students who have had a history of tardiness or haven’t been responding online lately. This way, they will know that online lectures are not just about your professor delivering a speech; that it is not a one-way street. The more you ask questions, the more attentive students will become. You can, also, consider grading the overall performance of students based on their responses during lectures.
- Use visual aids
It is not your fault that lectures may become boring. The fact is, staring at a screen does not invite much appreciation unless it is a favorite TV show. Even though you are the best in town so far as your subject area is concerned, the lack of human presence can greatly impact your delivery. Your sensory experience is highly restricted.
So, alternatively, you should consider using visual aids. Prepare PPTs, watch videos with class or conduct presentations. Improve the aesthetic appeal of your presentation through visual aids and you will notice a considerable improvement in students’ performance.
- Schedule smartly
Many times, students skip classes because they have been given unreasonable deadlines. For example, if you have scheduled a class in short notice or announced a test (unless the intention was a surprise test) without giving much time to prepare, then students will take a step back from participation and not attend the class at all.
Instead, they will come up with excuses you cannot practically double-check such as poor internet connection or system failure. Therefore, it is highly advised that you give sufficient time to students to prepare for the class or test.
- Conduct tests regularly
If you want to ensure your students take your lectures seriously, you must test them now and then. Regular tests develop a solid impression that you do evaluate how much students have been paying attention. However, note that it is very easy to cheat during online tests so try developing the ones which do not have straightforward answers.
Practical questions should compel students to use their knowledge to derive answers. Be creative with your tests. Regular tests should make your students realize that they must attend your lectures seriously unless their objective is to write supplementary papers.
- Create forums for discussion
Your responsibility as an educator does not end with classroom hours. Try to be approachable and involve students in discussion. Create forums so that students can post their thoughts or questions on the subject. This way, you will be able to remain in constant touch with students and be able to comprehend those areas where students may be finding problems.
There are all kinds of students, and some of them may feel shy asking questions in public. So, ensure that your email id or any other contact detail is available to your students to directly approach you. Virtual classrooms make it challenging to develop an approachable, human environment but you will have to give as much as you can.
- Involve parents
Well, university students might not like this idea. But, here I do not recommend over-exercising your authority to contact parents. In order to discipline students and ensure their regularity during lectures, stay connected with parents.
Contact parents if and when you think that their ward has been failing in terms of attendance or class performance. Have a very balanced approach about the involvement of parents. Just convey it to your students that their parents are routinely updated about their attendance record, and this might improve attendance.