Time and Attendance Report

Students are required to complete the "Time and Attendance Report" if they miss or plan to miss class. The form begins:

If you plan to miss class and want to request the opportunity to make arrangements to submit work late or to come up with a plan to make up work missed during the time you are gone, you must complete the Time and Attendance Report and submit it to me at least one week before your absence. If you are ill or miss class for an extraordinary circumstance and want to submit a late assignment or have the opportunity to make up missed work, you must complete the Time and Attendance Report within 48 hours of the class you missed. Submitting the report does not guarantee that your request will be approved.

On the Time and Attendance Report, students are required to list the reason for their absence as well as the arrangements they made or will make to learn the material that was (will be) missed. It does not take students long to complete the report and I have found it has several advantages.

  1. A link is made between class attendance and learning course competencies.
  2. Students are taught to be pro-active in making arrangements to make up missed work.
  3. Students who are going to miss a future class are encouraged to begin making arrangements at least a week prior to their absence.
  4. Because the Time and Attendance Report is included in my syllabus, it gives me the opportunity to explain how work in class builds on itself; that a one day absence could affect a series of assignments.
  5. Because students are required to state the reason for their absence, they need to consider the true validity of their reason for missing class.
  6. If a student approaches me about making up work and has not completed the Time and Attendance Report, I can respond, "There is nothing I can do to help you until you fill out the report." The student therefore maintains accountability for their actions and cannot shift responsibility for their behavior to me.
  7. If the student had a planned absence and wants to make up work after returning, I can ask, "Why didn't you complete the Time and Attendance Report before you left?" Learning that there are consequences for actions can be unpleasant but is an important lesson.

Although there are specific timeframes spelled out in the Time and Attendance Report, I don't strictly enforce them. For example, I might have a heart to heart with a student who returns from vacation without having completed the report before she or he left. After our conversation as to how the student could have handled things differently, I will allow them to submit the report late. I don't want the rules to get in the way of the student's learning.

In order to promote conversation, I do not judge the reasons for the absence. While I do not approve of taking vacations during the semester, I would accept a report for a vacation and work with the student to make up the work to be missed. As part of the conversation, I will express my view that I don't think that the student is making a responsible decision.

Although I will generally work with any student who wants to miss class or misses a class, there are times with "No" is an appropriate answer. I have had students back me into a corner making it impossible for me to assist them. I have also had students whose schedules were too busy to find time to meet with me and, without a meeting, I was unable to help them. Some students even refuse to submit a report.

There have also been times when the absences—even legitimate absences—are so frequent that the student cannot keep up. In such as case, I always refer the student to appropriate campus services. At times, I have even advocated on such a student's behalf to get a refund or re-take credit for the course.

Since I began using the Time and Attendance Report, it has had a positive impact in holding students accountable. But, more importantly, it has given students a procedure to take responsibility for their learning even when life intrudes on their academics.

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Photo Caption: Screen capture from Fritz Lang's Metropolis

A version of this description originally appeared as "Time and Attendance and Student Accountability" which was published in Etena Sacca-vajjena on August 11, 2013.