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Open Access Open Badges Research article

To be or not to be: the importance of attendance in integrated physiology teaching using non-traditional approaches

Beatriz Gal1*, Ignacio Busturia2 and Concepción Garrido3

Author Affiliations

1 Departamento de Ciencias Biomédicas Básicas, Universidad Europea de Madrid, Villaviciosa de Odón, Madrid 28670, Spain

2 Departamento de Estadística e Investigación Operativa. Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Madrid 28034, Spain

3 Departamento de Ciencias Morfológicas y Biomedicina. Universidad Europea de Madrid, Villaviciosa de Odón, Madrid 28670, Spain

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:360  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-360

Published: 14 September 2011



There is increasing use of non-traditional methods like problem-based learning, team-working and several other active-learning techniques in Physiology teaching. While several studies have investigated the impact of class attendance on the academic performance in traditional teaching, there is limited information regarding whether the new modalities are especially sensible to this factor.


Here, we performed a comparative study between a control group receiving information through traditional methods and an experimental group submitted to new methodologies in Physiology teaching.


We found that while mean examination scores were similar in the control and the experimental groups, a different picture emerge when data are organized according to four categorical attendance levels. In the experimental group, scores were not different between the 1st and the 2nd exams (P = 0.429) nor between the 2nd and the 3rd exams (P = 0.225) for students that never or poorly attend classes, in contrast to the control group (P < 0.001). A score difference between attending students versus the absentees was maximal in the experimental versus the control group all along the different exams and in the final score.


We suggest that class attendance is critical for learning using non-traditional methods.