Options for Recording/Viewing Attendance in Canvas

This article describes four methods for recording attendance in Canvas.  If keeping attendance in your course is not necessary, but you are interested in viewing a students’ participation/activity in a course, see How to view student activity.

 

Recording Attendance

Attendance (Roll Call)

The built in attendance tool in Canvas, Roll Call, is easy to use and includes reporting functionality.  For a full list of Roll Call functionality as well as instructions on how to use it, see the Canvas Attendance (Roll Call) Instructor Guide (https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-10460#jive_content_id_Attendance_Roll_Call).

Pros
  • Fully developed attendance tool with features specific to recording and tracking attendance.
  • Roll Call works in the Canvas app, so using it with a table makes it a viable option for on campus classes.
  • Everything is recorded in Canvas.
Cons
  • Only one grade and comment can be given for each student, does not have a daily grade breakdown.
  • Attendance must be entered manually by the instructor.

No Submit Assignment Method

A disadvantage to using the Roll Call tool is that it only allows a single grade and comment per student.  To provide an individual score or comment per day, you can create a grade column for each day attendance is recorded or use the Rubric Method below.  Each of the grade columns is an Assignment with the Submission Type set to No Submission, instructions here.

Pros
  • If a student stops attending your course you can leave a comment about last activity in their last attended date; helpful if asked to provide that information at end of semester.
  • Very easy to determine the last date of attendance for any student directly from the Gradebook without running a report or viewing individual activity logs.
  • Everything is recorded in Canvas.
Cons
  • If this is a regular 16 week course that meets twice a week you will have 32 additional columns in the Gradebook. These extra columns can make navigating the Gradebook much more difficult and because of that, we recommend this method for courses that do not have many graded items.
  • Attendance must be manually recorded

Rubric Method

A compact way of keeping a separate score (and comment field) for each day is to record attendance using a Rubric.  The Rubric is created so that rows are class days and columns are attendance for each student (on-time, late, and absent).  A no submission assignment is created and the rubric applied to it.  In the Gradebook you have a single grade column and to enter attendance, you open it in the SpeedGrader and update the rubric as necessary.

Pros
  • A single grade column for all attendance grading.
  • Easy to determine the last day attended for students.
  • If a student stops attending your course you can leave a comment about last activity in their last attended date; helpful if asked to provide that information at end of semester.
  • Everything is recorded in Canvas.
Cons
  • The rubric cannot be modified once it has been used for grading. No changes to the rubric can be made after the first day’s attendance is recorded, so it is important the rubric is complete and accurate before the classes begins.
  • May artificially lower students’ grades at the start of the semester. Since only one row is recorded at a time the students will only receive partial credit until the very last day of attendance when all possible points are accounted for.  To mitigate this problem you can select the option in the assignment setup to not count towards the final score and revert it at the end of semester for final grading.

Excel Method

Similar to the Rubric Method described above, attendance can be tracked in Excel and the grades can either be imported or manually entered into the Canvas Gradebook.  The spreadsheet is created so that students are rows and class days are columns.  A score is given for days attended and a attendance total can be calculated various ways.  In Canvas a no submission assignment is created for the purpose of adding an attendance column in the gradebook and you can decide on manually entering the grades in Canvas or exporting/importing the grade book with the grade data.

Pros
  • A single grade column for all attendance grading.
  • Simple Canvas setup
Cons
  • Requires you to grade and retain grade information outside of Canvas
  • Students cannot see their attendance information until it is uploaded into Canvas
  • Potential difficulty in locating attendance information if required to provide last day attended at end of semester.

For assistance with setting up any of these attendance options please contact CIRT at 620-3927 or cirtlab@unf.edu.  For in person assistance schedule a one-on-one Canvas consultation here.

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