Assessment Outcome Is Weakly Correlated With Lecture Attendance: Influence of Learning Style and Use of Alternative Materials

Adv Physiol Educ. 2012 Jun;36(2):108-15. doi: 10.1152/advan.00111.2011.

Abstract

The relation between lecture attendance and learning is surprisingly weak, and the role of learning styles in this is poorly understood. We hypothesized that 1) academic performance is related to lecture attendance and 2) learning style influences lecture attendance and, consequently, affects performance. We also speculated that the availability of alternative resources would affect this relationship. Second-year Bachelor of Science physiology students (n = 120) self-reported their lecture attendance in a block of 21 lectures (attendance not compulsory) and use of alternative resources. Overall self-reported lecture attendance was 73 ± 2%. Female students (n = 71) attended more lectures (16.4 ± 0.6) than male students (14.3 ± 0.08, n = 49) and achieved a higher composite mark in all assessments (73.6% vs. 69.3%, P < 0.02). Marks in the final exam were not statistically different between the sexes and correlated only weakly with lecture attendance (r = 0.29, n = 49, P < 0.04 for male students; r = 0.10, n = 71, P = not significant for female students; and r =0.21, n = 120, P < 0.02 for the whole class). Of the students who passed the exam, poor attenders (<11 lectures) reported significantly more use of lecture recordings (37 ± 8%, n = 15, vs. 10 ± 1%, n = 85, P < 0.001). In a VARK learning style assessment (where V is visual, A is auditory, R is reading/writing, and K is kinesthetic), students were multimodal, although female students had a slightly higher average percentage of the R learning style (preferred read/write) compared with male students (28.9 ± 0.9%, n = 63, vs. 25.3 ± 1.3%, n = 32, P < 0.03). Lecture attendance was not correlated with measured learning style. We concluded that lecture attendance is only weakly correlated with academic performance and is not related to learning style. The substitution of alternative materials for lecture attendance appears to have a greater role than learning style in determining academic outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Auditory Perception
  • Comprehension
  • Curriculum
  • Educational Measurement
  • Female
  • Habits
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Physiology / education*
  • Reading
  • South Australia
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Teaching / methods*
  • Time Factors
  • Universities
  • Visual Perception
  • Writing