Publication Details

This article was originally published as Rodgers, JR, Encouraging Tutorial Attendance at University did not Increase Performance, Australian Economic Papers, 41(3), 2002, 255-266. Copyright Blackwell 2002. Original journal available here.


When tertiary education is subsidized the cost of poor student performance in university subjects falls not only on the individual student but also on society in general. Society therefore has an interest in promoting student performance. There is evidence in the literature that absenteeism from university classes is widespread and that absenteeism adversely affects student performance. In this paper I describe an incentive scheme that increased attendance of business and economics students in an introductory statistics subject at a typical Australian university. Like other authors I find a strong positive association between attendance and academic performance, both in the presence and absence of the scheme. However, there is no evidence that the incentive scheme caused student performance to improve. Although students attended more classes they did not perform better than students in the previous year’s class who had the same observable characteristics and attendance levels but who were not exposed to the scheme.