The “conventional wisdom” is that grades are related to class attendance, i.e., students who attend classes more frequently obtain better grades and class attendance dramatically contributes to enhanced learning. However, the influence of sex (female vs. male) on this relationship is understudied. Furthermore, there have been several studies examining the impact of attendance on course grades that challenge the conventional wisdom. To address these issues, we determined the effect of class attendance on examination scores for female and male students enrolled in our undergraduate exercise physiology class of 51 students (20 female students and 31 male students). The experiment was designed not to interfere with the normal conduct of the course. Attendance was recorded in each class, and, although regular attendance was encouraged, it was not required and did not factor into the final grades. The final grade reflected the average days of attendance for female students only. Specifically, female students earning a grade above the class average attended 89 ± 4% of the classes; however, female students earning a grade below the class average attended only 64 ± 6% of the classes. In sharp contrast, there was no difference in the number of classes attended for male students earning grades above or below the class average (84 ± 3% vs. 79 ± 5%). Accordingly, some male students were absent frequently but scored above the class average, whereas other male students attended many classes but scored below the class average. Thus, the influence of regular attendance on examination performance is more important for female students than male students.
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