Course Attendance

Students raising hands

Academic success is positively impacted by course attendance and participation in course activities

Existing research indicates a positive correlation between students attending class and their academic performance or grades. Specifically, Bekkering & Ward (2021) noted a significant relationship between class attendance, participation, and scores on the final exam. A meta-study by Crede, Roch, & Kieszczynka (2010) concluded that attendance is a highly accurate predictor of academic performance and is superior to high school GPA, standardized admissions tests, study habits, and study skills. 

When considering factors in creating and enforcing an inclusive attendance policy, many factors including discipline, course level, enrollment size, course modality, educational philosophy, and accreditation, legal, and University guidelines are important.  This webpage offers guidance in promoting student attendance and clearly articulating a course attendance policy to students in your course.  This is typically accomplished with a clear syllabus statement. A sample syllabus is provided by the CTLD that can be modified to meet the needs of your course.  Information on this webpage will assist you in developing an equitable attendance policy for each of your courses.

Attendance Policies and Procedures

Stockton University’s course attendance policy expects students to attend all class sessions and/or engage in online course interaction as described in applicable University procedures including Procedure 2030

Faculty members retain the right and the responsibility to clarify their specific class attendance policy in the course syllabus. The Center for Teaching & Learning Design (CTLD) offers a sample syllabus that can be modified to meet the needs of your course. CTLD staff are available to assist you in developing your attendance policy.

In summary, Stockton’s course attendance procedure states

  1. Federal and state laws require that the university and faculty members communicate attendance expectations to students, and that students follow the expectations outlined by faculty. 
  2. At the discretion of the course faculty, an absence from a class meeting or required participation in an online course may be excused for the following reasons:  
    1. Religious holidays, including travel for that purpose (it shall be the responsibility of the student to provide the instructor with reasonable notice of the dates of religious holidays on which they will be absent, ordinarily within the first ten business days of the semester). 
    2. Approved University functions (participation in activities or organizations which represent the University). 
    3. Students with a separation from campus determination under Procedure 3220 – Student Well-Being and Safety Review, may not attend class until authorized by the Dean of Students (or designee). 
    4. Death or major illness in student’s immediate family 
    5. Illness of a dependent.  
    6. Participation in any legal proceeding requiring student’s presence. 
    7. Injury or illness.   
  3. If student absence for injury or illness requires documentation, instructors should ask students to send documentation to the Stockton Cares office, who protect student privacy and tell instructors if the documentation is a) valid, and b) falls within protected legal cases or is at the instructor’s discretion to handle. Faculty should not request or receive medical records, doctor notes, or other confidential student information.
  4. Faculty have discretion at handling student absences except in two cases as prescribed by law: active military service and pregnancy/childbirth. In all other cases, faculty have full discretion about how to allow (or not allow) making up missed work and/or applying penalties in accordance with their syllabus attendance statement.
  5. Faculty and students should review grading policies and course withdrawal procedures within the first few days of every academic term.

Tracking student attendance is important to meet federal and state guidelines.  Additionally, taking attendance lets students know that attendance matters and faculty value knowing students are in class. Attendance records are useful when poor academic performance is related to absences and disengagement. 

Faculty may track student attendance using the Blackboard attendance tool or other convenient method.  To track participation in an online course, deploy Statistics Tracking on items in your Blackboard course and use Blackboard Student Activity Details.

Faculty will report student attendance early in the semester as part of the academic engagement verification program from the Office of Financial Aid. Attendance and academic progress are measured with the mid-semester progress check.  When student issues arise, attendance information may be requested.  

Students who are pregnant may not be penalized for absences. Faculty should be familiar with appropriate guidelines.

Students who are actively serving in the military may not be penalized for absences. Faculty should be familiar with appropriate guidelines

Some students with disabilities may require special consideration when enforcing attendance policies.  The Learning Access Program is available to provide guidance.

If students express circumstances impacting their attendance and academic performance, refer to appropriate student services. The Osprey Navigate platform will assist with connecting students to Stockton resources.

For students facing an extended absence, it is important to review relevant procedures to drop or withdrawal from a course, consider a leave of absence, or request an incomplete grade.

Under appropriate circumstances, faculty may choose to facilitate course participation remotely or with a modified schedule.  The Center for Teaching & Learning Design (CTLD) offers information about planning for alternate course delivery. Faculty may contact CTLD staff to discuss strategies to enable student participation during an extended absence.

Faculty will follow the attendance and leave procedure to address a faculty absence. When faculty are absent from class, it may be possible to continue student learning as discussed with the Dean.  The following document offers some suggestions to continue student learning during a faculty absence.

Inclusive and Flexible Course Attendance Practices

Past experiences informed faculty of the need to offer students flexible options to remain engaged in courses while navigating challenges related to physical health, mental wellbeing, and personal circumstances. Review the resources below for additional information.
  1. Individual faculty guided by University, school, or program guidelines determine the policy on class attendance. Faculty attendance policies are expected to hold students to a high standard of performance while being fair, consistent, compassionate, and aligned with University’s policy and procedures.
  2. Your course attendance policy must be clearly stated on the syllabus. To address any issues, the syllabus policy is used to adjudicate a problem. A sample syllabus is provided by the CTLD that can be modified to meet the needs of your course.
  3. Use your attendance policy statement to incentivize students to attend class or participate online.  The type of policy developed depends on many factors.  This document can assist you in thinking through your attendance policy and how attendance might impact the final student grade.
  4. Students should be permitted to make up examinations or class work missed because of illness, mandatory religious obligations, certain University activities, or unavoidable circumstances. An attendance policy should provide options for making up missed exams or class activities due to one of these excused absences. 
  5. There are special attendance guidelines for students who are pregnant or on active military duty. Students who are pregnant or actively serving in the military may not be penalized for absences.

Explain the importance of class attendance and participation on a regular basis. Share with students how your course activities help them learn. Explain to students what they will be doing during the course and how the personal or online interaction with faculty and their classmates offers learning opportunities that may foster deeper learning and relationships.  Make sure your planning of course activities and use of instructional time is relevant to student learning.  

Provide guidance on using PowerPoint slides, Zoom recordings, course notes, and other supplemental materials. Explain how the use of these materials is not the same as coming to class. Explain why these materials are included in your course and offer examples of how students should appropriately use available resources.

Course Design & Pedagogy

Review course design and pedagogy. Make sure it is important for student learning to attend and participate in class. Consider the use of active learning strategies to engage students with course materials. Use course mapping to make sure learning and class activities are aligned to student learning outcomes designed for your course. Be sure to explain the alignment of course activities and assessments to students. Discuss with students 

Use polling, small group discussions, or exit tickets to ask thoughtful questions and get responses from all students related to course content and/or to provide feedback on course satisfaction. 

Rather than review the text or assigned readings, engage students in discussions or problem-solving that requires them to apply the readings to real-world scenarios. 

Use a few minutes at the end of class time in a manner similar to office hours.  During this time, students can pose questions on any aspect of the material or assignments, perhaps by submitting anonymously online with a tool like Padlet or Mentimeter

Students are more likely to attend class when they experience a safe environment for learning that encourages them to check their current understanding, put things in context, and clarify any points of confusion.  Students need to appreciate the value of attending class based on the class experience.

Student Resources

Faculty may create or direct students to resources that promote course attendance. Students may refer to the Stockton FAQ document (coming soon) to learn more about attendance.

Share with students the following reasons why attending class is important:

  1. There is a direct correlation between attending class and doing well in the class.
  2. You retain more information when you attend class.  
  3. Missing one class may put you behind in your learning.
  4. Class activities explain material better than you can learn it yourself.
  5. Class attendance shows your faculty that the class is important to you.
  6. You are paying tuition and fees to be in class and learn.
  7. If your grade is borderline, points for attendance may increase your grade.
  8. If you don't go to class, you might miss opportunities for extra credit.
  9. If you miss class, your peers do not get to benefit from your contributions.

Northern Illinois University provides student information and tips regarding course attendance.