How to Handle Attendance and Tardy Issues?

If you are not familiar with AUC's and RHET's Attendance Policy, please first read here. These are the policies that you enforce and that students need to know. What follows are ideas on how to enforce these policies and how to handle when students run into attendance problems.

Prevention
Students who are regularly absent or tardy, usually not only suffer themselves, but also adversely affect the class. Therefore, it is best, if possible, to try to proactively prevent these issues. A few ideas that can help.

  • Emphasize strongly the first few weeks of class the importance of attendance and being on time.
  • Give a graded assignment or homework each of the first few days of class (including drop and add week) to show the importance of being in class.
  • Make it very visible the first few weeks of class that you are taking attendance.
  • Usually it is fairly easy to see in the first few weeks who is going to struggle with attendance. When such a student is identified, talk to this student personally, even after just two absences or times of being tardy.
  • It is recommended that you keep your attendance record in an online format that students can access (turnitin.com, Google docs, Blackboard, etc).

Warning Emails
While AUC's attendance policy does not require that faculty send attendance warning emails, the RHET department has clearly seen that such warning emails have value. Thus, RHET strongly encourages all faculty to send warning emails to notify students when they are running into attendance problems (which would include attendance problems due to accumulating times of being tardy). To make this easy, we have template emails that can be sent via the faculty portal. RHET recommends, at a minimum, sending the following emails.

  • An initial warning email when a student reached 3-4 missed classes (with a tardy counting as a half an absence). You can use the faculty portal to send these warning emails. Personalizing the default warning email is not required, but some instructors have found it helpful.
  • A final warning email when a student is at 5.5 or 6 absences. Similarly you can use the faculty portal to send this final warning email. Again, feel free to personalize the template email before sending.

​Exceeding Absence Allowances
Students who exceed six absences, counting excused absences, begin to face consequences that directly affect their grades.

  • When a student exceeds six absences before the drop deadline, then this student automatically fails the course and should be encouraged to drop the course if eligible. This email can also be sent through the faculty portal. Most students will drop at this point, however some will not. Some will simply just stop attending and get an F.
  • When a student exceeds six absences after the drop deadline, then the student loses 1 full letter grade for each absence above six absences (or a half letter grade for each half an absence). The student should be notified with each grade reduction via email. These emails can also be sent through the faculty portal.
  • When a student has missed so many classes and/or assignments that it is no longer possible for the student to pass, then you might want to communicate with the student that it is no longer possible for them to pass. Since the student has paid for the course, they are allowed to still come to class and even do assignments if they want, and you should still give feedback on such assignments. However, most students will stop attending once they have been notified that passing is not possible.

​Other Communication Guidelines

  • Try to communicate the importance of attendance in class, out-of-class, via email, course websites, etc.
  • Please keep copies of any attendance emails you send to students. If sent through the faculty portal, email copies are automatically saved.
  • If sending outside of the faculty portal, please copy the department assistants. You can also copy the Associate Chair and can even mention in the email that you are copying the Associate Chair. This sometimes makes it feel more serious to the students.