It is of increasing concern to me how few students actually attend lectures. For example, in the second year undergraduate course I taught recently, attendance was in the range 50-60%. This is not unusual.
I consider that attending the lectures is an integral part of the EDUCATION that a course is meant to provide. Contrary, to what many students believe education and passing assessment are not the same thing. I am also aware there is much more to a course than just attending lectures.
If all the students were at home reading the text and solving problems I would not mind. However, based on their performance on exams I am skeptical of this.
If lectures seem not to be helpful then students need to engage with the lecturer to trying and make them moreso, e.g., by asking relevant questions. Again, this is part of the education process. Students need to learn to make the system work for them.
So what should we do about it?
Here is one radical proposal to address the issue.
At the beginning of each lecture a head count is performed and recorded. This is then averaged over the whole semester. This number is then the maximum number of students that will be allowed to pass the course, regardless of what students score on the other assessment.
This mechanism will not only provide a significant incentive for students to attend but also to encourage other students in the class to attend.
I would not claim this is a perfect solution. However, I believe it is significantly better than the status quo. I welcome comments.