How-To: Document Attendance During Remote Delivery

How-To: Document Attendance During Remote Delivery

Student attendance is a critical data point, especially as related to data reporting and the use of federal aid funds. For these reasons, “taking attendance” is a routine practice at Miami University Regionals. Attendance during ‘remote delivery of instruction’ becomes less clear and requires the employment of different strategies for monitoring and encouraging attendance.

Remote delivery acceptable indications of attendance:

Turning to the Federal Student Aid Handbook for guidance, acceptable indications of a student’s last day of attendance during remote delivery may include:

  1. Student submission of an academic assignment
  2. Student submission of an exam, quiz, or test
  3. Documented participation in an interactive tutorial or computer-assisted instruction
  4. A posting by the student showing the student's participation in an online study group that is assigned by the instructor, institution
  5. A posting by the student in a discussion forum showing the student's participation in an online discussion about academic topics
  6. An email from the student or other documentation showing that the student-initiated contact with a faculty member to ask a question about an academic subject studied in the course

Unacceptable indications of attendance:

According to the handbook, "in a distance education context, documenting that a student has logged into an online class is not sufficient, by itself, to demonstrate academic attendance by the student" (Federal Student Aid Handbook, 2016, p. 886). In other words, a student must do more than "login" to be counted as having attended the course.

Implications for Remote Delivery Instructors:

Knowing that it’s critical for Miami to report accurate and well-documented data on a student’s last day of attendance, Regionals E-Campus recommends the following best practices:

  1. Inclusion of at least one (1) academic-related learning activity each week
  2. Administering academic-related course learning activities as Canvas Assignments (e.g. assignments, quizzes, discussions)
  3. Advanced notice of upcoming assignments and due dates, especially given the current state of affairs
  4. The flexibility of “due dates,” given the current state of affairs (e.g. assignment assigned on 3/23 and due on 3/27) OR more generous acceptance of “late” work

Monitoring and Recording Student Engagement in Canvas:

Canvas offers several tools to help you monitor and record “attendance” and participation. You have options to track student activity via Course Analytics, Course Statistics, Student Analytics, and the new Analytics Beta tool. You can also record “Attendance” via Roll Call Attendance. You can view your own interactions with a student, and view a summary of all student interactions in your site. At this time Canvas analytics do not measure activity on mobile devices, with the exception of Analytics Beta which does measure activity across devices.


Federal Student Aid Handbook, Section 5-60, p. 886.

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