Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Ellie McDonald 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

I have just completed the BSc in Applied Psychology at IADT. My knowledge and interest in all aspects of psychology have flourished since starting this course, however, I have grown particularly interested in Developmental and Educational psychology. I hope to further my education by pursuing postgraduate studies in developmental and educational psychology. I was fortunate enough to be awarded the George Moore Scholarship which will fund my postgraduate studies in the UK. I aim to gain more experience researching and working in the field of special education, with the goal of becoming an Educational Psychologist in the future.

Project Description

My final year project was based on students’ attitudes towards class attendance at third level and the effects of their attendance levels on their academic motivation. Students’ class attendance in third-level institutes is an ongoing topic of concern for academics. Yet, little research has delved into how students' academic motivation is affected by attendance. I was also interested in testing whether a student's year of study affects their academic motivation.

My study employed a mixed research method where 192 participants were asked to complete a questionnaire that consisted of two scales. The data collected was statistically analysed. The students were also asked two open-ended questions about their reasons for attending lectures and for not attending lectures. These responses were analysed and four themes from each question were generated.

Project Objectives

The present study had two objectives:
1) To determine whether undergraduate students' academic motivations varied according to their attendance levels and years of study.
2) To discover reasons students choose to attend or avoid lectures.

The results from this study add to the existing body of literature on the topic of class attendance, however, the addition of academic motivation as a variable brought a different outlook on attendance that hasn't been researched much.

The study also represents the attitudes of students post Covid -19. Attendance during the pandemic was highly studied because of the introduction of online learning, however, since the return of regular classes, there hasn't been much research on how students are adapting back to normal schooling. This study highlights students attitudes towards attendance of in-person classes after the pandemic.

Project Outcomes

There are many significant findings to report from the study.

1) Results from the statistical test showed a difference in students’ academic motivation based on attendance levels. This meant that students' academic motivation is affected by their attendance levels. Mainly the high attendance group having the highest academic motivation.

2) There was no significant difference found in academic motivation scores from the four years of study. This meant that academic motivation is not affected by a student's year of study.

3) The analysis on the responses from the two open-ended questions generated 4 themes each:

Reasons for deciding to attend classes: Future Implications, Social Expectations, Fear of Falling Behind, Interesting Modules and Lecturers.

Reasons for deciding not to attend classes: Health Issues, Prioritising individual work over lectures, conflicting obligations, Commute and class times.

Thesis Title

Exploring undergraduate students’ attitudes towards class attendance and their motivations for attending.