Missing Lectures: A Psychoanalytical Perspective

By Jim Martin Keane.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Much is known about the factors that are associated with absenteeism by students. Various studies in the US in the 1980s, and more recent work in the UK in the last few years, reveals that student absenteeism is widespread, complex and context sensitive. What is missing in all these studies, however, is an understanding of the students who are absent in terms of what this behaviour reveals about them.

The paper is based on an exploratory analysis of interviews with 37 students in five sub-groups studying at a UK university. The analysis of the interview data at first revealed some interesting ideas about the attributes of the students, lectures and contexts associated with the behaviour. However, when the data was then interpreted at a more holistic level, three broad conceptions emerged that appear to capture the attributions quite well.

The paper will argue that these three conceptions can be shown to mirror quite closely the three psychoanalytical constructs suggested by Berne (1984) known as the Parent, Child and Adult ego states. Berne’s idea is commonly known as Transactional Analysis and is based on the idea that behaviour in psychoanalytical terms is a transaction. It will be shown that the three concepts derived from the data support the view that missing lectures can be seen as a failure to transact with lectures from either a Parent, Adult or Child ego perspective.

The implications of interpreting the behaviour of missing lectures as a failure to transact effectively in this way is that it suggests some students missing lectures are struggling in psychoanalytical terms with the lectures being offered. There are a number of areas of struggle suggested in the data. The paper will make some practical suggestions about how it may be possible to encourage students to attend lectures more regularly.

Keywords: Missing Lectures, Absenteeism, Psychoanalysis, Transactional Analysis, Ego

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp.95-102. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 545.511KB).

Dr. Jim Martin Keane

Director of Studies, Business School, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK

I am a lecturer and very recently was made a course director for a large undergraduate programme in my Faculty at the University of Gloucestershire, UK. My first career was in the private sector as an Economist and my teaching has mainly been in economics over the last 12 years. However, my main scholarly interest arising from my teaching is pedagogy. I have a particular interest in understanding student behaviour with a view to improving the learning experience of students. This interest led me in my 40s towards studying for a PhD in Educational Research that was completed in 2007. My aims over the next few years are, inter alia, to continue to improve as a lecturer, to become a good course leader, and to be increasingly scholarly through my study and practice of pedagogy.

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