Short and Long Term Effects of Skipping Class


Engineering Graphics H166

Autumn, 2000












Kat Knapper, Seat 11

Day Dreamer, Seat 17

Bull Dozer, Seat 22

Rip Van Forty-Winks, Seat 34


Instructor:  A. Einstein     Class Section:  3:30


Lab Section:  Wednesday, 3:30-5:18

Date of Experiment: 01/05/00 to 03/10/00

Date of Submission: 03/17/00


Many, if not all, students have struggled at some time with the decision to attend, or not attend, a particular class.  Because the consequences of such an action may not be apparent to a beginning student, an experiment was conducted to clear up some of the common misconceptions currently prevalent among first-year students at The Humongous State University.

The goal of this experiment was to determine both the positive and negative effects of not attending class, both for a single occasion and for multiple occurrences.  The experimental procedures applied to this study are outlined in the following section, while the results of the experiment are summarized, using charts and text, in the ‘Results and Description’ section.  A ‘Discussion’ of these results will be followed by the ‘Summary and Conclusions’ section.


Experimental Methodology

Three groups, each consisting of 50 first-year Humongous State students, were employed in this study.  All students in the study were enrolled in the same elective class, Quantum Architecture and Zen Buddhist Approaches to Postmodern Literary Criticism, for Winter Quarter, 2000.  None of the students had any previous knowledge of the subject matter, which was not too surprising, and all of the students had a high school GPA ranging between 3.3 and 3.9.  Students were randomly assigned to the three groups. 


The students in Test Group One were permitted to miss one lecture or recitation period, while those in Test Group Two were permitted to miss up to 20% of class periods, either lecture or recitation.

Grades, amount of time spent studying, sleep patterns, and the students’ “fun” levels (self-reported) were used as dependent variables in the study.  The two test groups were then compared to each other and against the control group.  A “double blind” study was used to protect the students’ identities. 


Results and Description

The classes that students in Test Groups One and Two missed were selected using a random number generator.  A new number was generated for those students who were assigned either class #10 or #20 because exams were scheduled for those class periods.  Table 1 shows which class (out of 30 possible) each student in Test Group One missed.  A similar table for Test Group Two was constructed but is not included.













Table 1:  Missed days for Test Group One subjects.






Throughout the quarter students in the experiment completed periodic surveys about various aspects of college life, assigning a number value to each category.  When the study was complete, each student’s post-skip surveys were analyzed, and compared to their previous surveys, as well as to other students in the experiment.  The following charts illustrate how student life changed as a result of the missed class(es) for selected students.



Chart 2:  Shows the tendency of students to perform more

              poorly following the class they missed.              


Chart 1:  Sleep pattern of “Sally” who missed the third day of class.

 It is apparent from the chart that on the day she missed

“Sally” actually slept more, but on the days which

followed, “Sally” slept less. 



Note: All data and charts should be submitted in actual report, not just a sample of the data as provided here.




Comparisons of test scores, sleep patterns, study time, and “fun” time were made within and between groups.  Trends indicated that either “fun” or sleep generally increased as the missed class increased, but usually not both.  Careful analysis of the data also revealed a marked decrease of “fun” and sleep, accompanied by a sharp increase in study time immediately prior to prior to an exam for individuals in both test groups.  This same trend was observed for the control group as well.  However, these affects were as most pronounced for students in Group Two, whose members had missed 20% of class periods, and much less evident in both Group One and the control group.

Students who were unlucky enough to be selected to miss one or more classes immediately preceding an exam showed the most severe drop-off in both the “fun” and “sleep” categories, with 72% of students in this category reporting a corresponding increase in hours spent in the library.

A follow-up study, conducted immediately after the conclusion of the quarter in which the study was conducted, revealed a mean grade point difference for this class of 0.3 (out of a possible 4.0) between students in Group Two and students in the control group.  As a result of the follow-up study, several students in Group Two have petitioned the College for permission to retake the course without penalty, and two pre-law students (names withheld) have threatened legal action unless their grades are immediately raised by 0.3 points.


Summary and Conclusions

Based on the data presented above, the following conclusions can be made:

These results lead one to the conclusion that despite initial increases in “fun” or sleep, the long-term effects of skipping even one class are most definitely negative.