Attendance is a very important element of my course. I enforce a strict policy, but with so many students per section, it can be time-consuming.

I see that I can record attendance in Canvas.  Alternatively, I was thinking of creating an assignment for each class which is only available during class.

Unfortunately, I always get a few students who try to game my process, so I want to limit the potential for fraud.

Can you recommend something for my situation?

-Trouble Keeping Track


Dear Trouble Keeping Track,

There are several strategies to gather attendance. Following are a few recommendations from Faculty Commons to consider.

The biggest question is why students might feel the urge to game the attendance component of a course. If each class period delivers value that progresses towards course success, then the desire to actively participate could outweigh the propensity to skip class.

Think of ways to keep the morale high in your course.  Learn students names, create a sense of classroom community where students feel that they are an integral part of a learning group. For follow-up to questions like this, we recommend faculty schedule a one-on-one consultation with Faculty Commons.


  1. Clickers are primarily intended to promote learning, but attendance is a by-product since responses indicate which students participated during class. Using clickers throughout a course is a proven strategy for engaging students and resetting attention spans. Faculty have a specially designated clicker to run the polling process, show the result, and advance PowerPoint so they can circulate around the classroom while administering polls.
  2. Have students submit something at the end of every class with their name. Prompts could be: biggest take-away, muddiest point, a question that wasn’t answered, or ideas for class activities.
  3. Use an entry ticket system. Create a short question or prompt that is connected to the assigned reading. Students bring these to class with them and they are collected. This also is a way to motivate students to do the reading.
  4. Rick Sheridan in the June 25th, 2012 Faculty Focus online publication suggests a number of tips. One simple one is to provide handouts in class that are not posted in your course website. Those students who miss them, can get them during office hours.

Not recommended:

  1. Canvas Attendance tool: students stop by the instructor station and check in on the way to their seats, or you use a few minutes during class for an old-fashioned roll-call as you update the daily attendance.
  2. Canvas ungraded Assignment: instructor manually maintains roll-book and updates a column in Canvas after class to illustrate absences.
  3. Limiting access by web address (IP number) isn’t feasible in a classroom setting because student devices can have an unpredictable range of roaming web addresses. Although it’s an option in Canvas Quizzes, it is only applicable in a secure testing center with computers that have static web addresses.
  4. Timed forms or surveys that are online usually don’t prevent students from texting links to classmates who aren’t present.

-Faculty Commons


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