Teaching Undergraduate Artificial Intelligence Classes: An Experiment with an Attendance Requirement
We report on an experiment that we performed when we taught the undergraduate artificial intelligence class at the University of Southern California. We taught it – under very similar conditions – once with and once without an attendance requirement. The attendance requirement substantially increased the attendance of the students. It did not substantially affect their performance but decreased their course ratings across all categories in the official course evaluation, whose results happened to be biased toward the opinions of the students attending the lectures. For example, the overall rating of the instructor was 0.89 lower (on a 1-5 scale) with the attendance requirement and the overall rating of the class was 0.85 lower. Thus, the attendance requirement, combined with the policy for administering the course evaluation, had a large impact on the course ratings, which is a problem if the course ratings influence decisions on promotions, tenure, and salary increments for the instructors but also demonstrates the potential for the manipulation of course ratings.