First, I had voted for using electronic devices in class. Also, while I did miss some lectures, I’d guess that I would be in the upper percentile of people that attended the lecture based on the statistics provided of class size (including those that dropped) and just general observation. However, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there were days where I didn’t contribute anything to the class discussion.
In regards to attendance I actually find my behavior ironic in ways. I’ve had classes where attendance was required (albeit there may not have been any points or system in place to reinforce this) that I would routinely skip. However, I really enjoyed going to this lecture despite having the choice to completely skip lecture because attendance was not required. I thought some of the discussions in class were interesting and overall I had a respect for you, the professor, because of your experiences with business and the University and your overall knowledge of economics. The smaller classroom size probably made the lecture more appealing in that sense. However, what I think may have hurt this experience was having electronic devices in class. It’s too easy to get distracted and from a psychological standpoint we’ve been easily coerced into checking our phones when we feel a slight vibrating buzz in our pocket. For most of us, I felt that our responses were short and didn’t help in creating an engaging conversation. I think this created a sort of hive mind like behavior amongst us – when everyone has their laptops out and has short responses, the behavior is likely going to be repeated.
Now I can ask myself why I didn’t try to break the trend and well, I couldn’t really explain to you why I didn’t. I’d answer occasionally when we had discussions but when it came to the excel homework I was a bit lost so that at least explains in some part my behavior. I don’t think any of us individually want to keep talking the whole class period and that hurts the chances of having classroom dialogue. Also, in the sense of the whole class, we did vote on the policy of electronic devices so that reinforces the class setting in some manner. I think the majority of us are involved with a lot of activities beyond the class and if there’s an opportunity to take our foot off the pedal and slack it’ll likely happen. Slack might not be best word but what I’m trying to convey is that if people have an opportunity to blow something off they can. I don’t want to be pessimistic about the class but I’ve had some classes where I individually blew off for one reason or another because I had an opportunity to do so. I don’t know if everyone as a whole is just more involved and values any extra time to not work or if our intrinsic behavior is to be opportunistic. On the other hand, I’ve had classes where it was quite possible to blow them off but a majority of students didn’t. I’m not even sure how to explain these behaviors I’m just really writing this off of my initial gut feeling. Perhaps in the future to encourage more discussion we could have handouts of some sorts. I think when we physically have something in our hands it gets more of our focus. A laptop and phone have strong pull on students and that reflected on the class’ behavior in some discussions. Another thought however was that some students may have came to the lecture (despite it being optional) because we could have electronic devices. If that is taken away then I’d have to wonder if classroom attendance would become poorer than what it was currently. That’s the unfortunate reality of economics, changing one variable opens up a pandora’s box of outcomes (at least in my opinion, you’re more versed and experienced with economics so I may make a poor connection here, I hope you’ll at least appreciate the attempt).