What is it about?

Student’s academic performance is the point of interest for both the student and the academic institution in higher education. This performance can be affected by several factors and one of them is student absences. This is mainly due to the missed lectures and other class activities. Studies related to university timetabling investigate the different techniques and algorithms to design course timetables without analyzing the relationship between student attendance behavior and timetable design. This article first aimed at demonstrating the impact of absences and timetabling design on student’s academic performance. Secondly, this study showed that the number of absences can be caused by three main timetable design factors: namely, (1) the number of courses per semester, (2) the average number of lectures per day and (3) the average number of free timeslots per day.

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Why is it important?

Academic performance is an important element for the students in the accomplishment of the high education. It is also the achievement level the institutions need to meet in order to reach the educational goals. This knowledge can be used to identify susceptible students at risk of falling or in need of further consideration. Therefore, students’ academic performance is becoming an interesting topic leading to explore two main research directions 1) predicting the academic success and 2) investigating the factors affecting the students’ academic performance. The performance of students might be influenced by numerous factors. However, the absenteeism is another main factor affecting students’ performance. This is because the missed classes are problematic for a student to overtake the work missed, not mentioning the lectures and other activities in class. So, what triggers student absenteeism? This study looked at demonstrating that the design of the course timetable is one of the main causes of absences, and thus one of the factors affecting student academic performance. To the best of our knowledge, the impact of timetabling design on student absenteeism has not been explored. This study successfully proved that student GPA is moderately affected by the average number of absences. Also, GPA can be predicted based on the absences and other important attributes, including previous semester GPA. The study also demonstrated that the absences can be triggered by the number of courses assigned to students during one semester, the average number of lectures per day, the average number of breaks per day. However, the number of off days per week is not a significant factor. The study also demonstrated that previous semester GPA has a strong influence on enhancing the prediction performance.


Writing this article was a great pleasure as it has co-authors with whom I have had long standing collaborations. This article also presented a study of a non-investigated topic. I hope this article will direct the educational institutions to enhance their timetabling in order to improve the students' performance. More than anything else, and if nothing else, I hope you find this article thought-provoking.

Souad Larabi-Marie-Sainte
Prince Sultan University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The impact of timetable on student’s absences and performance, PLoS ONE, June 2021, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0253256.
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