Data Visualization: Attendance vs. GPA

Above is a plot of students’ attendance versus their grade point averages (GPAs).  See any trends?  Obviously, students with higher attendance tend to have higher GPAs.  While this is not particularly surprising, it’s nice to be able to support this notion with actual data.

(I should say that this “actual data” is not actual data, but it is based on actual data.  I’ve taken the actual “actual data” and randomly added or subtracted up to 5% so that the general trends remain, but none of the actual data points are the same, except by chance.)

In addition to the general trend that GPAs correlate positively with attendance, I can say that no student who had 100% attendance got less than a C+ (2.85 GPA) and that no student who got a 4.0 GPA (straight As) attended less than 96% (at least in the “actual” data).

Can I claim causality?  Not exactly.  I don’t know that higher attendance causes higher grades, or vice versa, but I think it could be claimed that low attendance causes low grades — if you aren’t in class, you can’t get an A.

Admittedly, this isn’t the most cutting edge visualization — it’s just a graph I made using Microsoft Excel — but I think it represents a relatively simple set of data effectively.

I plan to show this graph to all of our students at our program-wide meeting at the beginning of the academic year.  If nothing else, it should get them thinking a bit about the importance of attending class if they want to be successful.  This isn’t a big issue for most of our students but, as you can see, it is an issue for some.  And if it helps them to have me connect the dots, I gladly will (see below, click to enlarge).


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