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The traditional definition of “attendance” is being physically present at a place. With the advent of online elements and hybrid approaches, the conception of “classroom attendance” has evolved. Consider these diverse examples:

  • Student is physically present in the classroom
  • Student participates in a live online session via Zoom
  • Student logs in from home and views a session that is taking place in the classroom
  • Student watches a recording of a classroom session and participates in an online activity to demonstrate that they have watched the recording
  • Student actively participates in an online discussion throughout the week. Appropriate engagement is an analogue to “attendance.”

All of the above examples share one thing in common: the student is taking some kind of action to show that they are indeed “there,” regardless of the environment in which they are present. However, some methods of attendance facilitate learning of the course objectives better than others. Consider utilizing various attendance modalities where possible as doing so supports students in a variety of ways.

Developing an Attendance Policy

Guide students to make informed decisions about their level of participation in your class by providing clear communication of expectations. When developing an attendance policy, ask yourself:

  • What does “attendance” look like in my class?
    • Sample: “You are encouraged to attend the classroom sessions in person because I find the back-and-forth interactions valuable; however, I will also record the classroom sessions if you are unable to attend in person. You may choose to watch the recording and answer the question that is embedded in order to receive credit.”
  • Is there a logical connection between my attendance policy and the learning objectives of the course? 
    • Sample: “I highly encourage you to attend the sessions, as we will discuss concepts that you will need to critique in the exams.”
  • How will my students be impacted in terms of learning course content if they do not attend routinely? What number of absences is truly too many to satisfy the learning objectives and to be an active part of in-class activities? 
    • Sample: “This course includes in-class discussion and other activities that are vital to your course learning and that cannot be made up through text reading or other independent learning. Test and assignment grades may be impacted for students who miss too many classes.”
  • Why should students attend this class? What benefit will they get?
    • Sample: “One of the major assignments in this course is a group project. I highly encourage attending the sessions in person because in the past, students have reported it is easier to work together during scheduled class time.”
    • Sample: “Students who routinely attend this course tend to stay more engaged with the course content and perform better on tests and course assignments.”
  • Does my attendance policy and/or my make-up exam/work policy unintentionally encourage a potentially sick person to come to class? Pay close attention to linking attendance with a grade. Ideally, the link is tied to course learning objectives and the nature of the in-class experience.
    • Sample: “Attendance is important to your success in this course. However, if you are sick or unable to participate meaningfully in class, stay home. Contact me as soon as possible regarding any absences.”

Technology Considerations

Streaming and/or Recording Sessions

When teaching in-person (“P”) courses, you may choose to live stream or record your class sessions via tools like Panopto or Zoom. (Note: other course modalities may require (“V”) or allow for (“RS” and “M”) recording/streaming of class sessions. If teaching in these modalities, contact CDL’s Instructional Design Team for design guidance at idesign@ucf.edu.) Check out the self-paced BlendFlex faculty training course in Webcourses@UCF which was designed to support faculty who wish to incorporate this approach in their face-to-face courses. In addition, consider enrolling in the online, self-paced Zoom Essentials or Panopto Essentials, which should take 2–4 hours to complete. To receive one-on-one support about these tools, schedule a virtual session with a Faculty Multimedia Center (FMC) specialist or attend one of the FMC’s training sessions.

Accessible Attendance Practices: Student Accessibility Services has seen a significant increase in students with chronic health conditions.These chronic health conditions can make it very difficult to attend class and to take tests or submit assignments at specific times.Rigid attendance policies pose significant barriers to students in these situations. Flexible attendance policies, including recording lectures for future viewing for students and reasonable make-up exam/assignment options, benefit all students. If you do plan to stream and/or record class sessions for access for all students, captioning may be necessary for accessibility.

Consider discussing your plans with Student Accessibility Services to ensure that you are creating an equitable learning space for all your students.

UCF Here

UCF Here is an attendance app for iOS and Android devices developed by the Division of Digital Learning. Students can use their smartphone to check into a class, and faculty can manage and take attendance directly through Webcourses@UCF. Even though UCF Here is designed to be used in a classroom environment, faculty can take attendance in live online sessions as well. For instructions on its use, see https://cdl.ucf.edu/support/webcourses/guides/ucf-here-faculty-guide/.

Sample Syllabus Statement

Please refer to our Syllabus Statements page for a sample statement regarding attendance.