Attendance Policies

Introduction

It’s interesting to me that as an instructor there are only a few things I’m contractually obligated to to do for each class. One thing I have to do is assign each student a grade at the end of the quarter, and the other is to take attendance. I understand why instructors need to give out grades, that’s pretty obvious. But when I first heard we had to take attendance I was a little surprised. After all, this is college, not middle school.

It turns out that the Financial Aid Department needs instructors to track attendance for a reason. If they give a student money they expect them to go to class. Apparently some bad actors have scammed the college by accepting Financial Aid, but using the tuition money for something else, like a trip to Las Vegas. If a student takes the money, starts skipping class after a week or two, and ends up not passing the class the Financial Aid Department wants to know the students attendance record. They will use this information to determine whether or not to pursue legal action to retrieve any funds given to the student.

In any case, in this section you’ll learn about the attendance policies for this specific class. You’ll first learn why there are three different policies, learn how each policy works, and finally you will learn about withdrawals.

Before you proceed let me say one more thing about attendance I fully realize that being required to attend class may cause problems for some students. But please be aware that regardless of how I feel about any college policies I am required to consistently apply them to all students. If you are going to have a problem attending the scheduled lecture or hybrid class sessions please understand that I strongly sympathize with your situation but the only option I have at this time is to suggest that you take the class when it’s offered as an online class. All of the Computer Science and Cyber Security classes are offered online at least once per year. If you can’t come to class on the scheduled days you should contact your advisor as soon as possible to adjust your schedule.

Why 3 Attendance Policies?

In the distant past the only way you could take a college class was to come to the college. During those class sessions students were able to learn a lot from lectures and discussions, and from participating in hands-on exercises where they applied what they learned. While students also spent a good amount of time studying and doing hands-on assignments outside of class, the amount of learning that went on during the class sessions made attending class critical. There was so much learning going on during each class session that missing class sessions had a significant negative impact. And, as you can imagine, students that missed multiple class sessions hard a difficult time learning the material and passing the class.

Because attending class was critical to student learning and student success, I developed an attendance system that provided additional encouragement for students to show up to class.

At some point online classes started to become in vogue. Honestly, even though I’m a strong advocate for technology, I fought against the move to online learning for several years, as I believed that it was impossible to provide students with the same learning experience they get in a traditional class. I based my beliefs on student reports and class reviews, where the students said that they loved my classes because how much they were able to learn from the hands-on experiences and the discussions. And when online classes were first appearing, I thought it was impossible to replicate those same important experiences in online classes.

At some point, around 2006, I was ordered to move some classes online. Luckily I was able to adapt most of the hands-on experiences and other class materials so that students were able to get nearly the same experience in an online class as they did in a traditional lecture class. Coming up with good hands-on exercises for online classes has been difficult, but it’s been worth the effort.

But, since students aren’t required to be in class every day for hybrid classes, and not at all for online classes, I also had to adapt the attendance system. And, because there are now three class modes there are also three different attendance policies.

The first thing you need to do is ensure you know what mode your section of the class is using this quarter. That is, whether the class is scheduled to meet in the traditional lecture format where we meet in class on a daily basis, or if the class is scheduled to be a hybrid class where we meet in class twice a week, or if the class is scheduled to be fully online. If you haven’t done this already the following page provides instructions for helping determine the mode for your class section.

How to determine your class mode

When you’re certain of your class mode, jump down to the appropriate section to read about your class’s attendance policy.

Traditional Lecture Format Attendance Policy

The main portion of the attendance policy for lecture classes is that you will awarded up to 50 points for attendance, but will lose a few points for each missed class. Here are the details of the policy and how attendance points will be awarded:

  1. Everyone starts the quarter with 50 attendance points.
  2. It is possible to miss or be late for 4 classes and still receive 50 points. Starting with the 5th missed class, your attendance score will be reduced by 1.5 points per absence.
  3. You must be present at start of class when roll is taken to receive the points for that day. Or put another way, if you’re present at the start of class you will be marked as absent. If you have any issues or conflicts that will cause you to be chronically late you must discuss your situation with the instructor during the first week of class.

Since there are typically 4 classes per week, this means you can miss an entire week and still receive all 50 points. If you miss 2 full weeks your score will be reduced by 6 points, so you’ll still receive 44 points for just showing up to class on time. (Here’s the math behind the 44 points just in case it’s not obvious. If you miss 2 full weeks of classes you’ll typically miss 8 classes. You get 4 “free” absences, which leaves 4×1.5 points or a 6 point reduction. And 50-6=44.)  Missing 2 weeks of class and losing 6 points won’t have a huge direct impact on your overall grade. But it does means that you will miss quite a bit of the course content, which will probably have an impact on your learning, which will probably have a negative impact on your grade.

Hybrid Class Attendance Policy

The main portion of the attendance policy for hybrid classes is that you will awarded up to 50 points for attendance, but will lose a few points for each missed class. Here are the details of the policy and how attendance points will be awarded:

  1. Everyone starts the quarter with 50 attendance points.
  2. It is possible to miss or be late for 2 classes and still receive 50 points. Any absences or late arrivals after that reduces the attendance score by 3 points.
  3. You must be present at start of class when roll is taken to receive the points for that day. Or put another way, if you’re present at the start of class you will be marked as absent. If you have any issues or conflicts that will cause you to be chronically late you must discuss your situation with the instructor during the first week of class.

Since there are typically 2 classes per week, this means you can miss an entire week and still receive all 50 points. If you miss 2 full weeks your score will be reduced by 6 points, so you’ll still receive 44 points for just showing up to class on time. . (Here’s the math behind the 44 points just in case it’s not obvious. If you miss 2 full weeks of classes you’ll typically miss 4 classes. You get 2 “free” absences, which leaves 2×3 points or a 6 point reduction. And 50-6=44.)  Missing 2 weeks of class and losing 6 points won’t have a huge direct impact on your overall grade. But it does means that you will miss quite a bit of the course content, which will probably have an impact on your learning, which will probably have a negative impact on your grade.

Online Class Attendance Policy

If you’re in an online section of the class your attendance will not be a factor in your grade. But I do need to track your attendance because one of an instructor’s contractual obligations is to keep attendance records. This is because some students receive Financial Aid, and if one of those students stops coming to class, or never starts the class at all, they may have to repay some of the financial aid funds they received. The way your attendance is determined in this class is by checking the Canvas activity reports. If you receive a grade of 0.7 or lower, I am required to report the last day you attended class. In this case I will report your last day of attendance as the last time you accessed this class in Canvas.

Faculty Withdrawal

On a more practical note, I will be checking your progress periodically throughout the quarter. I will send out reminders of key due dates, and nag you if you start to fall behind schedule. If you fall so far behind that you are at risk of failing the class I may contact you and suggest that you drop the class.

The official college withdrawal policies allows the instructor to withdraw (drop) a student from a class ” as the result of excessive absences”. When classes were only offered in traditional lecture format this meant when they a student missed the equivalent of 5 classes. And note that the instructor is not required to inform the student or ask their permission before dropping them. When I first learned about this policy I was taken aback as it seemed harshly punitive. But when I asked about it I was told that this policy is really meant to provide a safety net for students because in most cases, excessive absence makes it very difficult to receive a passing grade. And the way your overall GPA is calculated it is better to receive a grade of “W” (for withdrawal) than to receive a 0.0 grade. If you receive a 0.0 in a class it’s calculated into your overall GPA, which will pretty much kill your GPA. If you withdraw from a class there’s no impact on your overall GPA.

But you really should stay on top of your grade(s) and make this decision for yourself. Keep in mind that you must withdraw well before the last week of the quarter. The specific date is published somewhere on the CBC calendar as something like “Last day to withdraw from a class”. Please check the CBC website or contact one of the counselors if you want more information regarding withdrawals or calculating your GPA.

I’d like to close this by telling you that in my opinion, you’re investing a lot of time and quite a bit of money in each class, so why not show up for class, do the hands-on work and get your money’s worth? You really don’t want to have to retake the class and waste all of the effort and money you’ve already put into a class. And you really don’t want to retake the class and have to listen to all of my stupid jokes again.