Classroom Success

Student classroom performance is driven, in part, by the expectations that faculty have for their students, and that students have of themselves.

cbe classroom

First Step to Classroom Success

It is absolutely vital that you attend class regularly. Missing a class should be a rare occurrence; something that happens at most once or twice a semester. If you miss class more than this, it will interfere with your learning and have a negative affect your performance and your grade.

Occasionally, you may have to miss a class due to illness or an important obligation. However, this should be a very rare occurrence. You should not miss class just because you don't want to go or there is something else you would rather do. Realize that going to class is the default expectation --- it is not a decision that needs to be made.

In addition, you should never miss one class in order to do homework or study for another class. Some students mistakenly think this is prioritizing; in reality it is nothing more than poor time management. Doing work for one class should not be done at the expense of another course. This will only hurt your overall academic career and not benefit you in any way.

Value of Classroom Learning

Going to class does far more than simply giving you credit for attendance. Class attendance facilitates learning in a variety of ways, and here are just a few:

  • Lectures and classes supplement reading assignments. Class gives you another perspective on the material besides just the textbook. Even if you think you already understand the material well, classes always adds something new. The instructor may go over examples or applications you haven't seen, concepts in class may be presented in a different way than in the text, and student questions and discussion may elaborate on the material or provide new insights.
  • Professors often use questions or class discussion to enhance critical thinking skills. Attending class can be an opportunity for you to engage the material with the guidance of the professor and the help of your classmates. A professor may pose a question or lead a discussion in class that directs you to make connections between concepts and helps you to think about the material in new ways.
  • The relationships you form with your peers who may have similar interests and goals can hugely impact your college experiences personally, socially, and academically. Group projects can help you hone leadership skills, practice group decision making, and improve your ability to work with people who might have very different perspectives or ways of working. How do I navigate personality clashes? How do I deal with the person in my group who is just difficult to work with? College is a training ground for developing these kinds of peer-to-peer skills, and the relationships you develop in and out of the classroom will help you for years to come.
  • If you pay attention in class, you may be surprised by how much you can cut your study time later on. No textbook can explain something to you like another person can. Even if professors seem as though they are just going through the material in the book, there will always be added clarification and insights that you can discover in class. Time in class is one to two hours during which you are actively thinking about the material and practicing it.
  • Your professor will emphasize the important concepts, giving you a better idea of what is important and what you should focus on. The professor is an expert on the material, and they design their lectures to organize the main ideas and extract the important concepts. Attending class and taking good notes can help you to put the ideas together and focus on what is important.
  • Some professors are not very textbook oriented. Their lectures may be very different from the way the textbook presents the material, and class may be used to convey the professor's own viewpoints and perspectives. In a class like this, test questions will more than likely be based on lecture notes rather than the text, so attending class and taking good notes will be one of your best preparations for exams.
  • Classes give you more interaction with the professor and other students in the class. Attending and participating in class shows the professor that you are a serious student who is taking responsibility for your education and making an effort to learn. This increases your interaction with faculty members, and raises the likelihood of finding mentors and role models who can help guide you in your academic, career, and personal development. In addition, class time is a chance to meet and interact with other students in your class. This can help you to form study groups or meet other students in your major.
  • Taking your own notes during a class is more useful than getting a copy of someone else's notes (even the instructor's). In a recent study, only 8% of students reported that getting class notes from a missed class is as useful as attending class. Additionally, this 8% who thought borrowed notes were as good as going to class had significantly lower reported grade point averages than those who valued class attendance more. The act of attending class and writing down your own notes will help you to learn the material and solidify your understanding in a way that is much more effective than when you miss class and read someone else's notes.
Adapted with permission from Dr. Mark Tomforde (University of Houston).