Discipline: Computer Sciences and Information Management
Subcategory: Computer Science & Information Systems
Anthony Powell - Texas Southern University
Co-Author(s): Jamaal Roby, Macklin Thomas, and Great Baedee, Texas Southern University, Houston TX
Background and hypothesis: A main issue of students passing classes in college is their attendance in class. Many students do not attend class regularly and, as a result, receive low grades or fail. This seriously affects the persistence and progression of students. Many classes in the core education of STEM programs are large, over 50 but less than 150. Professors are responsible for recording the attendance of students at each meeting. Some actually call the roll orally, but most with large classes have the students sign-in on a roll sheet, which is analyzed at a later date. However, professors must spend time entering data in a roll book or spreadsheet manually during the semester. The question for this research is that if professors had a tool for managing the class attendance records, would that capability have an effect on the attendance and performance of students in the class? In initial testing, preliminary results show a positive impact on the attendance of students. Further, one professors determined that performance appeared to improve since the tool was used in his class. Methods and Controls. Since most, if not all, college students have a cellular telephone, it was decided to use this device to implement a program to call the roll, non-intrusively for large classes. The tool consisted of an “App” for the cell phone and a program on a PC to integrate the data using MS Office, the internet, and Google file transfer. Each student in the class downloads the App named “RollCall” to their smartphone. The App sends a simple SMS text message to a specific number. The text message consists of a class name, student id, student’s last name, and a password to protect the class. This text message is accumulated for each class and a class roll is automatically produced by the software in the RollCall System for the professor and sent daily by email. The professor provides the class with a daily password for the class and each student uses the App to send the text message. It takes less than a minute to accomplish this task. Results of Preliminary Tests Preliminary tests of the RollCall System were conducted in the summer of 2016 with encouraging results. Two classes were used which showed that 1) professors must be aggressive in using the system in order to gain consistent results and 2) a professor who demonstrates to the class the capability of having accurate attendance records will encourage students to be present and improve attendance. It appears that students are sensitive to the faculty having accurate data. Conclusions and future work The RollCall System is being tested by 6 professors and 500 students in the fall of 2016. Professors are pleased that their attendance rolls are prepared without any labor on their part. The attendance and performance in this larger sample will be analyzed after the end of the fall semester. It is expected to show improvement in academic performance.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): NSF CREST Center for Research on Complex Networks
Faculty Advisor: Oscar Criner, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: System problem definition, systems design and development, product specifications, system implementation and testing, data analyst.