How to Improve the Students` Attendance in Government Schools

Howto Improve the Students` Attendance in Government Schools

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Howto improve the students` attendance in government schools

Summary

Schoolattendance towards the end of the academic year is a pertinentproblem, and there are challenges in increasing the numbers. Whileschool administrations have been criticized for having high levels ofunauthorized absences in the past, educational research scholars haveasserted that the best approach is solving the problem through actionresearch. This action research was conducted in Al Aaisma School. Theresearch sought to find out the factors that influenced low schoolattendance towards the end of the academic year, benefits ofimproving school attendance and how attendance towards the end of theacademic year at Al Aaisma School can be improved. Data was collectedby questionnaires, which were distributed to the learners, teachersand school administration. Similarly, secondary information was usedto supplement the data collection exercise, as well as descriptiveobservations. The major ethical consideration was respecting therespondents’ anonymity. Data analysis revealed three major causesof low school attendance towards the end of the academic year at ALAaisma School, which are school mobility, student dissatisfaction andteacher-student relationship.

I spentfive days making observations at the school. On the first day, Iconcentrated on observing the school’s teaching and learningschedule. On the following day, I was interested in finding out howthe learners and teachers interacted outside the class room. This wasinclusive of observing how consultations were made and how thestudents communicated with their teachers. On day three, I observedhow the students spent their free time. On the fourth day, I wentaround the school notice boards to study the activities that weregoing on throughout the academic year. On the final day, I made alevel-to-level observation of the attendance numbers. A major findingwas that there was a missing link between the students and thesystem. Based on this, I recommended a detailed action research andadministration intervention for improving teacher-studentrelationship.

Appendix A – Research Project Template

Saif Al Mannan 002099 , 402

Project Title

Stage 1 – Identification of a research problem or topic

The data for school attendance is published ever term. The reason for doing this is to study the trends, make observations and recommendations, all aimed at improving the same. One of the intentions of every government administration is to ensure that it promotes education, and one of the ways of doing this is reducing truancy and dropping out. As such, when considering attendance, one has to keep in mind that improving attendance rates throughout the academic year is one of the main concerns. While schools have been criticized for having high levels of unauthorized absences in the past, scholars have identified researching the problem through action research is a much more effective approach. According to Carr &amp Kemmis (2003), action research in education is mainly carried out to identify problems and tackle them head on, with the objective of changing the modus operandi in practice. This action research is about improving the student’s attendance in government schools at the end of the academic year.

There is an association between low school attendance with academic performance and achievements. Statistics indicate that students who miss attending school at the end of the academic year fail more than those who do. Despite the recent improvement in school attendance over the last few years, education authorities still maintain that there is a worrying number of learners who are persistently absent. Equally, as the learners move up the school system, the number of those who are persistently absent continues to increase. This means that it is up to the government, educators, parents and other stake holders in the education sector to ensure that school attendance in the public government schools is improved significantly. There are a number of factors that are associated with this observation.

The action research will be conducted at Al Aaisma School. While school attendance remains a challenge in the school, the authorities have come up with strategies to help the students improve their school attendance, especially towards the end of the academic year. Previous researchers have identified a number of attendance related factors, which they have used to advise the school’s managements for improvements. This research action looks to fill up the gaps in literature in the scope of research, besides making recommendations for improvement.

Research questions:

  1. What are the factors influencing low school attendance towards the end of the academic year at Al Aaisma School?

  2. What are the benefits of improving school attendance towards the end of year at Al Aaisma School?

  3. How can school attendance towards the end of the academic year at Al Aaisma School be improved?

Stage 2 – Plan

Data collection tools

The first data collection tool that will be used is questionnaires. According to Mills (2000), questionnaires are an effective means of eliciting feelings and perception of some individuals. They are among the most commonly used research tools in social studies, as they are designed to yield specific information about a particular phenomenon. Questionnaires are economic, uniform and standardized, hence data collected is highly accurate and precise. For the purpose of this study, structured questionnaires will be distributed to selected students and teachers from Al Aaisma School.

Secondly, data will be collected for secondary sources, which have been documented by previous researches. According to Joy (2007), secondary research, which is also known as desk research, involves the collection of existing information, instead of going for primary information. This information is useful to the research in terms of comparing the trends of school attendance over the years, and the interventions, which have been put in place by the authorities to improve the situation. Specifically, government and schools records provide useful statistics. The material for this information is found on online resources and libraries.

Observation will also be made, for description purposes. One of the best ways of studying and evaluating social phenomenon is through observations. Observations help the researcher to take meaningful notes that address specific issues which are being studied. For the purpose of this study, the researcher shall observe the school going tendencies in Al Aaisma School, besides studying the attitudes of the leaners during this particular period.

Finally, data will be collected through interviews. According to Merriam &amp Simpson (Creswell &amp Clark, 2007), in action research studies, interviews are important for collecting information about variables that interrelated. Most of the interview questions are used to collect information about beliefs, attitudes and experiences, which are of interest to the researcher in the scope of the study. Specifically, learners about teachers from the Al Aaisma School will be interviewed, and the information equally analyzed.

Ethical considerations

One of the ethical considerations will be respecting autonomy. In this kind of research, it is natural for participants to make differing opinions, and as such, it up to the researcher to allow the participants to make decisions by themselves. At the same time, upholding the individual participants’ privacy will be a major consideration. A central feature of this research is making the findings public, and providing descriptions about the process and how it was carried out. However, it is important for the researcher to ensure that the participant’s anonymity is respected, and confidential data be kept secret. Finally, treating the participants in an equal way will be a major ethical consideration. There will be no bias based on the participant’s characters, opinions or tendencies, as this is unethical.

Stage 3 – Act

The questionnaires were designed and passed out to the students and the teachers. Five major things were investigated in the questionnaires. First, the learners were asked to give their views about attending school towards the end of the academic year, and if they felt that this period was any different from the others. Secondly, the teachers were asked about the students’ attendance towards the end of the academic year, and whether they felt that the students reconsidered when it came to attending school at this time. Thirdly, both the learners and the students were asked if there were any specific things that they thought would affect school attendance towards the end of the year. The reason for posing this query was to identify any trends in the influencing factors that led to change of school attending towards the end of the academic year. Finally, both the students and the teachers were asked if there were any changes in performance and differences between those students who attended school towards the end of the academic year and those who did not. The questionnaires were kept for analysis.

Secondary sources were used to collect information that has already been documented by other researchers. The research referred to statistics about school attendance in Al Aaisma School. This information is available online and in the libraries. At the same time, the school’s publications have valuable information that was used to study school attendance records. In this light, an important online source, a report called Performance Insights: School Attendance was used. This source is an online paper that was prepared by the department of education, training and employment. It provides comprehensive information about school attending trends and issues at Al Aaisma School. The information provided in this source addressed the questions as to why school attendance is important, patterns of school attendance and factors that are associated with school attendance.

Observations were made to study the patterns of school attendance at the schools. This involved going around the school and studying the student’s behavior towards the end of the academic year. At the same time, activities indicating rigorous school schedules were observed, such as the number of students that were being served at the school’s administration offices and other points, such us the canteens and field. These observations are important for the purposes of interpreting the student’s morale and attitude towards school attendance when the academic year is about to end.

Interviews were very helpful in collecting raw primary information about school attendance towards the end of the academic year at Al Aaisma School. The interviews were conducted through phone. In this, the researcher called two students and asked them a number of questions, all related with the research questions. Specifically, the students were asked if they observed any difference in school attendance towards the end of the academic year. Equally, they were asked to say whether they thought lack of attendance affected the students learners. They were also asked to say whether there were factors that affected school attendance during the specified period, and if the school administrations were doing the same.

Stage 4 – Data Analysis

The information from the questionnaires was kept and analyzed by use of excel. This was to obtain graphical representations for easy interpretation by the researcher and other interested parties. From the research exercises, the research established that there were three major factors that were related with low attendance towards the end of the academic year. The first one was school mobility. Most of the government school students move between schools, due to personal or social factors. The students who are about to move to another school have a reduced interest in attending their present schools towards the end of the academic year. According to Lutz &amp Samir (2011), there is a relationship between school changing and attendance, mainly controlled social factors. However, there is a possibility that the nature of relocation of families affects the student’s school attendance. As most families are most likely to move when some learners are about to finish their academic years. The second major reason for low school attendance towards the end of the academic year is student dissatisfaction. Al Aaisma School takes surveys to collect information from the students every year, and from the secondary research that was conducted, it was found that there was a slight relationship between student satisfaction and school attendance, especially towards the end of the academic year. There was also a significant relationship between school attendance in Al Aaisma School and the student’s socio-economic status. A good explanation for this observation is that the poor students find it hard to attend most classes. The findings from the research suggest that the students were most likely to attend the whole year of the academic program were they not to find themselves having to indulge in other activities.

The data collected from the research indicated that reading scale scores and general academic performance was affected by non-attendance. 50% of the respondents said that they observed a difference in school attendance towards the end of the academic year, as a significant number of students opted not to attend school during this period. 80% of the respondents thought that student performance was affected by low attendance towards the end of the academic year. Generally, every day absent from the school had an effect on reading and arithmetic performance of the students. Secondary information indicated that more students from the higher learning grades are absent from school towards the end of the academic year. 70% of the teachers thought that the system was doing enough to keep the students at school throughout the academic year, while only 20% of the learners thought that the system was doing enough to keep them at school throughout the academic year. Literature suggested that low-level school attendance towards the end of the year was associated with three major factors. The first one was low intervention from the system, difference in socio-economic status, and school dissatisfaction amongst the students.

Stage 5– Reflecting &amp sharing

The research has established a number of things. First, there is a strong connection between poor performance and low school attendance towards the end of the semester. Each day that the students miss from school has a significant effect on their performance in schoolwork. At the same time, the study has established that the trend is most likely to persist, regardless of the fact that there is a considerable drop in the number of students who miss school towards the end of the academic year in Al Aaisma School. Regardless, it is important to note that the statistical correlation between school attendance and performance trends may be influenced by other external factors that are out of the scope of the study. However, the fact that students, parents and other stakeholders all need to find ways of improving the statistics, as they are all involved in the phenomena. It is acknowledged that there have been a number of interventions, both from the government and the schools themselves, to keep the students in school throughout the academic year. These interventions have been successful to a certain extent, and at the same time, failed in certain aspects. As such, there is need for the action research to make recommendations for interventions to ensure that the number of school attendance amongst the students towards the end of the academic year does not go down.

In order to improve school attendance towards the end of the academic year, the stakeholders in the education sector, including the students, teachers and the government, all have to be involved. The first step is realizing that there are certain categories of reasons behind low attendance towards the end of the academic year, which are school, family the society and the economy. While there are factors that directly influence the declining attendance towards the end of the year, some have indirect influence. The school and economy have more direct impacts as compared to family and society. As such, the research recommends a total revision of policies and procedures that are associated with school attendance, especially toward the end of the academic year. In this regard, the system will be in a position of influencing, besides encouraging, the students to attend school, regardless of the barriers and challenges. Additionally, it is recommended that regular programs and workshops be put into effect to help improve the student’s attitudes and behaviors. In all levels, the learners will be able to be given moral and ethical support. For instance, social, family and school conflicts will be solved by positively engaging the students and improving their morale. From the research, it was established that poor relationship with the system influenced a large number of students not to fully attend the school schedule throughout the year. Therefore, improving the student’s perception about the system and how it operates would help them to have a positive attitude towards school attendance.

Appendix B – ObservationTemplate

Day

Week 1 (in School) – Notes about my observations

One

On the first day, I was keen to study the school’s operational routine. I was specifically interested in observing how the lessons were conducted, and how active every one (the teachers and the students) were in the classes. I was also interested in monitoring the movement of the students and the teachers during lesson time. The aim for doing this was to note if everybody was committed to the school schedule, and if there was anything disturbing the students. Towards the end of the day, I noted that the students were less dedicated to the schoolwork, and that some teachers left earlier than time.

Two

On the second day, I was keener with observing how the students and the teachers interacted outside class. As such, I hang around the administration block to see if there were any students who were following up about their classwork, or seeking more guidance from the teachers. I observed that less than 30 students interacted with their teachers after class hours, a trend which I found quite worrying. Additionally, teachers’ availability for consultation seemed quite low, as many looked more engaged in personal matters after lessons.

Three

On this day, I wanted to know how the students spent their free time. Approximately half of the students went to the schoolyard and engaged in group talks, while a significantly large number spent time alone with their electronic gadgets. A few of the students went to the school gym, as others went to play games. At the same me, a few went to the library to follow up on their class work and do personal research.

Four

I went around the school notice board to see what activities were going on. Most of the administration block notice boards had official letters and communications pinned on them, addressing issues such as lectures, opening and closing dates and so on. As for the students’ notice boards, most of the activities were school based parties and hangouts, most, which were scheduled towards the end of the academic year.

Five

On the last day, I went from class to class, beginning from the lower levels and going up. The reason for this was to observe the differences in attendance. I noticed that the lower levels had a higher attendance than the senior levels. AT the same time, at the end of the day, the upper level students left school earlier than their juniors did.

Specific problem or topic

One specific problem that I noted was that there was missing link between the students and the system. It seems that most students perceived school to be a place of just being taught schoolwork, in class, and nothing more after that. As such, the students did not create closer links with the system, including the teachers and the school environment. This greatly contributes to the tendency of avoiding attending school towards the end of the academic year.

Appendix C – Action PlanTemplate

Research question and Key findings – Be concise

Research questions

  1. How do the students perceive the system

  2. Does their perception affect their school attendance records, especially towards the end of the academic year?

  3. Do the teachers feel like they have done enough to help the students adapt to the school environment more?

  4. Are there any strategies that have been adapted by the administration to help bolster student-system relationship?

Actions (Interventions or strategies suggested to solve the problem )

The administration needs to set up meetings so that the students can interact amongst themselves and with the teachers. During these meetings, motivational speeches can be given, and at the same time, counselling sessions be given to students who may be having problems with adapting to the school system.

Who is responsible to implement the interventions? (e.g., who will conduct the next research cycle?)

The school administration is responsible for the implementation of the interventions, alongside the department of education. Given that this is a collaborative effort, the school administration can seek for funding from the government, especially in hiring professional researchers to evaluate the strategies and execute the plans.

What data collection will be planned?

Data will be collected from both the students and the teachers, especially the administration, by use of selected research tools. First, there will be use of structured and unstructured questionnaires, which will be distributed to a selected size of sample. The information collected will be treated with high confidentiality, given the nature of the research. The second research tool that will be used will be interviews. Students and teachers will be interviewed on matters relating to the theme of the research. The interviews will be conducted on phone, and if possible, face-to-face technique will be used.

Time line (dates/when?)

The questionnaires will be distributed and collected within a week’s time. The interviews will be carried out after the questionnaires have been collected The interviews, however, will take two days to be completed.

Resources needed

Three researchers for data collection, a vehicle, three computers, printer and office space.

References

Carr, W., &amp Kemmis, S.(2003).&nbspBecomingcritical: education knowledge and action research. Routledge.

Creswell,J. W., &amp Clark, V. L. P. (2007). Designing and conducting mixedmethods research.

Deta.qld.gov.au.(2015). Students’wellbeing. Retrievedon 11 June 2015 from:http://deta.qld.gov.au/publications/annual-reports/08-09/performance-reports/foundations/wellbeing.html

Joy,M. (2007).&nbspResearchmethods in education&nbsp(No.10). Innovation Way, York Science Park, Heslington, York YO10 5BR:The Higher Education Academy.

Lutz,W., &amp Samir, K. C. (2011). Global human capital: Integratingeducation and population.&nbspScience,&nbsp333(6042),587-592.

Mills,G. E. (2000).&nbspActionresearch: A guide for the teacher researcher.Prentice-Hall, Inc., One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey07458.