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Why don't they attend? Factors that influence the attendance of HE students of education.

Menendez Alvarez-Hevia, David and Lord, Janet and Naylor, Steven (2020) Why don't they attend? Factors that influence the attendance of HE students of education. Journal of Further and Higher Education. ISSN 0013-1326

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Abstract

This paper explores the factors that influence attendance to taught sessions in higher education. Absenteeism is approached as a complex phenomenon that is problematic when considering how students, lecturers and universities relate to it. Our study is conducted as a case study based on a large post-92 university in England, focusing on the undergraduate Education Studies programme. We took a collaborative approach with students and staff as research partners. Data were collected through one-to-one interviews with different members of staff and focus groups with students in all the 3 years of the programme. We used a thematic network analysis to generate a visual representation of the subthemes that emerged from collaborative analysis. Our findings show that attendance is a situated decision that can be articulated in relation to two sets of factors. The first set refers to university imperatives, and which relate to discourses of performativity and accountability. The second set relates to the complexities of students’ lives. In the intersection between these two clusters of concerns, the tension between the two sets of discourses plays out and has implications for the degree of engagement that students have with the university and their courses.

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