Reflections on the experience of mandating lecture attendance in one school of nursing in the Republic of Ireland

Leufer, Therese and Cleary-Holdforth, Joanne (2010) Reflections on the experience of mandating lecture attendance in one school of nursing in the Republic of Ireland. AISHE-J: The All Ireland Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 2 (1).


Attendance levels at lectures amongst university students appears to be a universal challenge. While the university culture generally does not embrace a mandatory attendance policy, the debate concerning the implications of non-attendance continues amongst educators. The literature in this area does little to dampen the debate, offering apparently sound rationales on both sides of the argument. Non-attendance is of particular concern when there is a professional element to a programme, such as Nursing. Student failure to attend lectures may elicit tensions between professional and academic values, particularly when a mandatory attendance policy is being seriously considered within a department. Advice from professional regulatory bodies in this area is frequently ambiguous, compounding the dilemma for academics in the higher education sector resulting in a variety of local interpretations. Further input from the relevant regulatory bodies would be useful in this regard. The underlying motivation for generating policies that mandate attendance must be given careful thought to ensure that the implications for all potential stakeholders are duly considered. Reasons for student non-attendance at university are many and varied and the perceived link between attendance and academic achievement is an area that requires further scrutiny. More innovative, student-centred approaches to teaching, learning and assessment could encourage greater levels of engagement with the programme of education. This needs to be considered at both an individual and departmental level if student learning opportunities are to be truly maximised.

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