On attendance requirement

FSP talks about a rather tricky issue:

Department Seminars: Should attendance be required of graduate students?

As a matter of principle, I had always abhorred any form of compulsory attendance. However, some of my colleagues who have better teaching experience tell me that there are some benefits in making attendance compulsory; and, I find that FSP’s conclusion is not very different either:

I wish that seminars need not be required and that attendance would be high without the requirement. Decades of experience, however, tell me that this is never the case, so I think it is fine to require at least the 1st-2nd year grad students to attend a certain (high) % of each term’s seminars.

If you attend seminars regularly, you will realize that although many are in fact not so exciting, over time you learn some useful and possibly important things you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to learn, you meet (or at least see) new people, you get ideas (about research, about how to give/not give a talk), and you are occasionally surprised by something extraordinarily interesting.

In any case, I heve no reservations about that last paragraph quoted above! Take a look!

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