New Language Proposal for First Week Attendance

Faculty Council is currently considering new language for first week attendance in order to meet both federal guidelines and recognize diverse instructional needs.  Please review the proposed language as follows and share your input by leaving a reply.  (Note:  this language is only being proposed for face-to-face classes; separate language will be considered to address online and distance learning classes.)

  • Faculty must drop a student if they don’t attend once. Faculty may drop students if attendance is less than 100% in the first week. The course attendance policy will be clearly defined and communicated in the class syllabus.

13 thoughts on “New Language Proposal for First Week Attendance

  1. Russell Shitabata

    The drafted language presents a subject-verb disagreement between the singular “a student” and the plural pronoun “they.”

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  2. David Collett

    Even if the language is changed to correct the pronoun problem Russell mentions, I still find the first sentence unclear. I believe the intent is to say

    “Faculty must drop any student who misses all of the first week’s class meetings. Faculty may drop students who miss even one class meeting during the first week. The course attendance policy must be clearly defined and communicated in the class syllabus.”

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  3. Barbara Breaden

    That the onus is on faculty for a Federal Guideline is troubling to me. Ordinarily the student does not have access to a syllabus if s/he is not in class, which can in extenuating circumstances produce a catch-22. If this is a Faculty Council/Lane policy, it needs to be articulated up front through the registration system, before the syllabus has been introduced. The syllabus should be repeating, not introducing, the policy.

    And naturally this gets wobbly in the case of a student who pops in five minutes before the end of class–or leaves 10 minutes into a class (“I have to see my advisor”).

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  4. Hyla Rosenberg

    Communication with Students:
    The mechanisms through which students are notified about the policy could be strengthened and clarified.

    For example, the new policy did appear in MyLane under Announcements before classes began Fall term. MyLane tends to be a very “busy” webpage, and I am sure that not many (any?) students would necessarily read a new Announcement.

    However, when I dutifully issued No-Show drops to students who had neither logged on (OL) nor completed the required educational activity by the deadline, two students contacted me, confused about the process. When I tried to find the link to the policy via MyLane (second week) it had already been taken down. I was able to direct them to a link in COPPS, which is less accessible. I had the policy in my syllabus and my homepage, but of course, these students had not logged on, so were not privy to the guidelines.
    ______________________________________________________________________

    Communication of Policy to Faculty:
    Initially, when the policy was communicated to faculty, many division colleagues noted what seemed to be a “punitive” tone in the event that faculty members did not follow the policy. This may not have been the intention, but it was received by some faculty members as being “called in” and “trained” correctly, as may happen, for example, in a developmental evaluation where a deficit is perceived.

    Since there still are aspects of the policy which need to be articulated–for example, how it applies to OL and Hybrid class–this lack of clarity proved problematic.

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  5. Sarah Lushia

    I’d really like the ability to drop students who don’t attend all of the first week of classes. In my courses, the majority of the foundational and structural material for the course is covered in the first week of class, and students who miss a significant part of that week don’t typically have what they need to complete the course and often either drop of fail. While I communicate the expectation that students will attend all of the first week of class, since the current policy doesn’t afford me any way to mandate that they actually do, things get messy and students are often put in a position where they are allowed (and I would argue somewhat encouraged by the current policy) to set themselves up for failure by not taking their courses seriously from day one.

    I do, however, think the wording should be more specific than what’s above. Something along the lines of: “Faculty must drop a student if they don’t attend one full class period or complete one online assignment during the first week of classes. Faculty may drop students if attendance is less than 100% in the first week.”

    Reply
    1. Hyla Rosenberg

      Re: OL/Hybrid classes

      I suggested that language be added to accommodate a variety of faculty perspectives regarding the definition of the end of Week 1 to say “complete one online assignment according to instructor’s deadline”, or some similar variation. Since the language is still being crafted for OL classes, I am not sure where the process stands now.

      Some OL instructors consider Sunday of Week 2 as still falling within the Week 1 requirement.

      Others have the first Friday of the week at 5 pm as their designation.

      Still others expect a submitted assignment by Weds. of the first week.

      Reply
  6. Shelly Bosworth

    I think expecting students to be present for at least part of the first week of class is reasonable. If the college policy is non-negotiable, the onus is on the student to attend rather than on the instructor to create, communicate and grade an assignment that acts as a replacement for being in class.

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  7. Shelley Williams

    I primarily teach online classes, and the issue that I ran across is knowing when the “last session” is for online classes. If this is not defined by the college, i.e. standardized, then each faculty will choose a date and time for their course. If a student is enrolled in more than one online course, they WILL expect a standard date/time based on the first online class they log into and read the policy. This occurred for at least three students this fall, and I wound up allowing them re-enroll. A lot of work and stress.
    Suggestion: Attendance assignments for online classes must be completed by Friday, 5:00 PM college-wide. If the assignment is not completed by that deadline, the student is administratively dropped.

    Thank you for allowing us to give input.
    Shelley

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  8. Peggy Oberstaller

    I know that the idea is to keep the phrasing of the policy short & sweet, however, in doing so I think it is not clear. Here is my attempt at covering the issues discussed so far – I’m sure that others will have feedback as well.
    For online classes the end of the first week should be the end of the first week to alleviate confusion among students. Why would you specify the end of week one as Friday of week 2? At that point the student cannot get a refund for the class once they are dropped.
    As far as getting the message out – isn’t there a way to divert students registering for classes to an online statement of the no show drop policy and ask them to sign that they understand and agree to it? Maybe before they can access class registration?

    “Federal guidelines require all faculty to process a no show drop for any student who does not attend at least one session of each class they are enrolled in during the first week of the term. In addition, faculty reserve the right to set individual policies for attendance in their class during the first week and throughout the term. These individual policies are in addition to the no show drop policy. Individual policies must be clearly stated both verbally and in writing in the class syllabus, and students not meeting those requirements may also be dropped.”

    Note: If you are enrolled in an online or hybrid class, you must sign in online and complete an initial activity designated by the instructor no later than Sunday of week one at 11:59pm in order to meet the requirements of the no show drop policy.

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  9. Brian Nichols

    A few science faculty drafted the following:
    Students are responsible for the attendance policies published in individual class syllabi. Any student not attending at least one class the first week of instruction will be dropped.

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  10. Lu Warner

    To be fair and transparent, the college needs a mechanism that allows students to see the policies that will affect them, before policy is applied to their choices. If a syllabus is going to say that a student can be dropped for not attending all classes in Week 1, students need to know that could happen before Week 1 starts. I can see the benefit of requiring Week 1 attendance, or more than 1 attendance in Week 1, as long as the syllabus is online before Friday of Week 0 and students know that and can find the syllabus in a predictable place. MyLane would be the best link I think.

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  11. Christina Salter

    As a counselor, I heard from many students who were effected by the recent changes with regard to no show and waitlists. I agree with those who believe stating the attendance policy in the syllabus is too little, too late.
    I would advocate for a college-wide policy that states:
    Students must attend the first class session or risk being dropped from the class.
    Students who do not attend at least one class the first week of the term will be dropped from the class.

    In addition, I think all classes should use a waitlist, and the number of slots should be determined by the average no show rate for that class. If the waitlist could remain active through the first week, we would be able to start filling empty seats after the first class meeting based on a first listed, first served model. This would help curtail students going door-to-door looking for a class, help students that are in line get in class, and help ensure classes are enrolled to capacity.

    My two cents…for whatever it may be worth!

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  12. Sarah Ulerick

    Speaking from the view of “how will we make this work in the division office”— I have concerns with the proposed language requiring students who may not have attended the first day of class to be accountable for the attendance requirements as “stated in the syllabus.” How will new students get the syllabus to know what’s in it? They are likely to come to the division office and ask for it or phone a division office…increasing workload for staff. I don’t see how we can make them accountable for information that is not publicly available. Having different attendance policies for different classes will make it very difficult to handle student complaints if they are dropped for not meeting different standards in different classes. The “no show” or “admin withdrawal” drop procedures have been college-wide for as long as I can recall. The prior “greater than 50%” standard was difficult to interpret for some class structures, but it was the same for the entire college. Having faculty set their individual standards which students will have difficulty finding out before the term starts (especially for Fall term) will be an administrative nightmare, IMHO. Suggestion: if faculty are concerned that attending once is too low a standard, why not say “attend at least two class sessions or complete two online activities (for online or hybrid classes). For classes meeting only once during the week, students must attend that class.” The financial aid compliance side of all this is the concern for enrolling students based on an email to the faculty saying “please keep my seat, I can’t make it in this week.” This strategy has been used nationally to get Pell grants fraudulently. The college is accountable for ensuring that aid goes to real students who are attending.

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