Attendance and participation in online courses is covered in AP 4110.
Attendance and Participation
(AP 4110 #8)
Students in distance education courses are required to attend class and participate just as if they were in a face-to-face course. Per federal guidelines, attendance in an online course is determined by participation in completing course activities in the LMS such as assignments, assessments, posting in discussion forums, etc. Simply logging into the course does not count as attendance.
To determine initial attendance for online courses, instructors must have a check-in assignment, due the first week of the course, that students must complete in order to remain enrolled. Students must be informed of this check-in assignment.
For online courses, instructors must establish an excessive absenteeism policy. “Excessive absenteeism” in an online course is defined as not participating in the course for an adequate amount of time to successfully pass the course or adequately complete the course. At this point, instructors may drop a student from the course. Participation in the course involves completing course activities – simply logging in does not count as participation.
Measuring the Last Date of Attendance in Distance Education Courses
(AP 4110 #9)
Effective July 2011, the U.S. Department of Education has defined “Last Date of Attendance” as an academically-related activity that is documented. Title 34 CFR 668.22(c)(3)(i).
For distance education courses, an “academically-related activity” includes but is not limited to: a quiz, test or assignment submission, meaningful participation in an online discussion, and student initiation of contact with the instructor to as a course-related question via email or chat. Title 34 C.F.R. 668.22(c)(3)(ii).
The Last Date of Attendance is not defined as the last date of course log in, and is not the same as the drop date.
How to Address AP 4110 in Your Course
There are two parts of the AP 4110 language that you need to address in your course syllabus:
1. The Course Check-In Assignment
Instructors must drop “no show” students by the census date per Title 5 (58004). Simply logging in is not sufficient to mark this initial attendance in the course so instructors must have a short course check-in assignment that students will complete within the first week of the class. This helps instructors determine who is attending and who needs to be dropped so that wait list students can be accommodated. Students need to be alerted to this check-in assignment – it is recommended that this assignment be highlighted in pre-course communication and on the home page of the course. Emailing the students a reminder during the first week is also helpful.
Examples of Check-In Assignments
- Ice-breaker discussion to allow students to introduce themselves to the class
- Syllabus quiz
- Pre-test – short quiz testing students on base knowledge of subject
2. “Excessive Absenteeism” Policy
Online instructors are required to have an excessive absenteeism policy in their syllabus. Students need to be informed about how they might be dropped from a course. The AP language is flexible for a reason – each instructor has a good idea how much material a student can miss before their chances of success in the course are seriously compromised. For some courses, there are key assignments that must be completed to pass the course and/or meet regulatory requirements. For some courses, missing one week of assignments is too much especially during the shorter summer sessions.
In AP 4110, it reads, “Excessive absenteeism” in an online course is defined as not participating in the course for an adequate amount of time to successfully pass the course or adequately complete the course. Participation in the course involves completing course activities – simply logging in does not count as participation.
Example of Excessive Absenteeism syllabus statements
- If student does not complete a minimum of 60% of assignments by the drop date, they may be dropped from the course for excessive absenteeism.
- If a student does not submit ________________________ (key assignment(s) that is/are a requirement for success in the course), they may be dropped from the course for excessive absenteeism.
- If a student does not submit assignments during (set amount of time – for a week/ten days, etc.), the student runs the risk of being dropped from the course for excessive absenteeism.
- Whatever you decide your excessive absenteeism policy will be, remember to focus on lack of student participation as the key factor for dropping a student from the class. A student may log in consistently but that is not participation in the course.