A note on grading attendance

If you are teaching an in-person class and would like to count attendance as part of the course grade, there are several ways to do this. None of them are inherently better or worse, you just need to find what works best for you and your class. Three common ways to do this are using the Attendance tool in Canvas, making separate assignments for each class meeting, or tracking attendance outside of Canvas and posting attendance grades regularly, but not every class.

Using the Attendance tool in Canvas

The Attendance tool in Canvas (also called Roll Call Attendance) allows you to easily mark students present, absent, or late for each class meeting.

For instructions on setting up and using the Roll Call Attendance tool, see the Canvas guide “What is the Roll Call Attendance Tool?” Please especially note the View Gradebook Scores section, as that can generate questions from students.

For more help, see Tips for using the Canvas Attendance tool in the IU Knowledge Base

Making separate assignments

Making separate assignments for each class meeting works better when the class meets once a week or less. A class meeting twice a week would generate around 30 assignments in your gradebook which can make it difficult to find your other assignments.

If you choose to go this route, even if you’re not using Assignment Groups for weighting grades, make an assignment group for attendance separate from the general group where all your other assignments are. This allows you to filter in the Grades tool to only see attendance assignments or only see other assignments.

Tracking attendance outside of Canvas

Many instructors prefer to track attendance in a notebook or spreadsheet outside of Canvas. While this a convenience for the instructor, if attendance is counted toward the final grade, students will not be able to see a true picture of where they stand in the Canvas Grades tool.

If you choose to track attendance outside of Canvas, please make regular assignments where you can enter student attendance points before the end of the semester. Some faculty prefer to enter attendance points monthly, others once before midterm and once before finals.

Questions? Talk to your campus teaching and learning center!


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