Attendance Overhaul

Right now attendance in Canvas isn't that useful/effective. Below are the ways it could be improved:
  • When viewing a specific student's information allow faculty to see a snapshot of the whole semester, including the specific date that a student was present, absent, late, etc. Knowing the number of days a student has been absent is useful, but for financial aid and other state regulated things we have to provide the specific date of last attendance. Right now this is very clumsy and time consuming.
  • Allow for additional states other than present, late, absent - ex: excused
  • Allow students to view their own attendance report. Right now students can't see their attendance information at all. Make it an option for faculty to allow students to view their own attendance for a semester by date. It would also be useful if there was an option to let students mark their own attendance - ex: they enter in the code for the day to show that they are in class.
  • Provide a print/save option for the entire roster that shows the attendance information by student and date.
  • Provide a more user-friendly data file of the attendance information. As it is right now it is quite messy and unless faculty are comfortable and familiar with excel they have a difficult time doing anything with the data file.
  • Make it an option whether or not attendance information is automatically added to the gradebook. Yes, I know the Roll call attendance assignment can be turned off, but it is confusing and many new faculty don't realize why it's there or what to do with it.

Hi All,

Just to let you know, we are aware of the comments in this thread and we know that Roll Call, as it exists today, doesn’t meet the needs of many users.  We want to scope an improvement project for attendance but that won’t happen until after we finish a few other large projects that are currently in development.  In the meantime please continue adding specific needs and use cases in this thread.


"We want to scope an improvement project for attendance"

 @scottdennis , thanks for the update! This made me so unbelievably happy! I have long said that attendance was one of the forgotten areas of Canvas, and even a few basic improvements could make a HUGE difference in the usability and functionality! Thank you to Canvas for recognizing this need!! Smiley Happy

Community Novice

Not being able to do this is the primary element that makes Roll Call worthless to me at this time.  I look forward to the updates.

Community Novice

I take attendance at beginning of class and add students who are tardy. But this is a binary choice. 

I would like a field to enter either the minutes tardy or the time of arrival. There is a significant difference in someone who arrive 5 minute or 10 minutes late and one who arrives 30 minutes ltre (to my 2 hour lab)

Reading prior suggestion/comments I "vote" for the same minute leaving Early option as minutes late.

Community Novice

I'd like to suggest that Canvas revise the attendance function to include an "excused absence" option. An option that does not count down from the 100 points, the way absences and tardies to, but still keeps track of how many times a student misses class, even if the absences are excused. Under the new option, an instructor could mark a student as absent, and would indicate that the absence is excused so no points are lost.

Community Participant

We would like to have an Attendance Pin.

Currently, we are transitioning from ANGEL to Canvas.  The addition of an Attendance Pin tool in Canvas would help our instructors transition from ANGEL to Canvas.  Many Face-to-Face classes (we call them Resident Instruction classes) currently use an Attendance Pin in ANGEL as an easy way to take attendance in class.  In ANGEL, there is an Attendance Pin Tool (Attendance Component | IT Knowledge Base that many of our instructors are looking for in Canvas as we transition from ANGEL to Canvas.

In ANGEL, the Attendance Pin Tool posts a random code (generated by the LMS) that students enter into the LMS while they are in class.  This verifies that they attended the class. It ties to the gradebook.  Instructors want the Attendance tool to be quick and easy to use.  Using the seating chart is not a good solution for them due to the time it takes for large classes.  A few instructors say that the seating chart is very K-12-ish.

The Attendance Pin feature should tie to the Grade book so a participation grade can be easily calculated and weighted.

A great feature would be if the instructor is able to lock it down by IP Addresses.

The attendance tool should also allow manual entry by instructors or TAs for changes, excused absences, late arrivals, etc.

The addition of an Attendance Pin tool in Canvas would help many of our instructors transition more easily to Canvas.

Community Novice

Please add additional columns to the report for badges—even just the standard ones! If I can't assign value to 'participation', 'homework' and 'excused absence' badges, at least if they were included in the report I could calculate them manually. At this point, I have to go back and search each week to see who gets participation points and who didn't have their homework complete.

Community Participant

We would like to see an attendance sheet with the various cross-listed sections all visible in either the list or the seating chart.  The seating chart is especially annoying because there are "empty seats" shown in the seating chart when in actuality the empty seat is actually filled in the other section tab.  I suppose Canvas didn't expect that various sections would be in the same classroom at the same time but it happens here.

Community Novice

All great points. I agree that attendance needs a serious overhaul.

Community Novice

I like the idea of being able to export a CSV but would prefer a layout closer to a traditional grade book. That is

Student First name

Student Last name

Student emaiil or institution ID (NOT the Canvas numeric ID)

Dates in columns from earliest to latest

Status (including "unmarked) in each cell

Community Novice

One seating chart for merged class sections would be great. 

Community Novice

This! This right here--this needs to be a thing. Much like the Gradebook has the ability to distinguish betwixt section rosters, as well as having the ability view All Sections, Roll Call Attendance should have these features as well. Pretty please. :smileygrin:


For anyone interested in attendance reporting in Canvas, I recently learned that our partners over at Alliance Partner - AspirEDU​ will soon be rolling out additional reporting that integrates with roll call and provides functionality similar to what I've seen people asking for from time to time in the community.  If this interests you maybe head over to their community space for more info.


As  @scottdennis ​ mentioned just above, Alliance Partner - AspirEDU​ has just released some additional automation involving Roll Call data.  It won't address everyone's needs but if you are interested, I would urge you to visit this page on our web site for a description of what we're doing to make your lives easier.

Thank you!

Community Novice

The ability to see a grid / calendar view with all students on it is essential (think of the old-school attendance records or an excel sheet). Clicking through day to day is time consuming and doesn't give an accurate, real-time picture of overall attendance for the whole class.

Community Member

I would appreciate being able to limit the attendance tool to the days my class actually meets, instead of having every day listed. It would also be helpful to be able to see an attendance grid, like in Excel so that I can easily see what dates a student has missed.

This feature needs a lot of work!

Community Champion

The Attendance tool needs to comply with Title IV Federal Financial Aid. That requires that actual minutes of tardiness be recorded so that the percentage of attendance can be calculated in order to assess whether a student meets Satisfactory Academic Progress. There is no way to record the amount of tardiness right now. You can make adjustments in the Gradebook, but that requires a teacher go to two screens to take attendance, and that is asking too much. The adjustments and notes should be on the attendance screen and then reflected in the gradebook screen. Make this easy for teacher to do.

Also, we do not use an SIS system, so we are going to have to figure out a way to assign an SIS number to every student to print the attendance report by student - another requirement of TItle IV. We think we have a solution, but there should be a way to print attendance reports - by student and by full class time period - without having to work with an SIS system to fulfill government requirements.

Community Novice

yes -- please add the possibility of creating other types of attendance such as Excused, Unexcused, etc.  Also I definitely want my students to be able to see their attendance either in the gradebook or elsewhere on Canvas.  It would make sense to put it in the gradebook -- at least for the way I use attendance, since it is mandatory for my class and affects grading overall.

Community Member

I agree that an attendance grid would be helpful. The .csv file is not easy to use.

Community Novice

Yes, these things. Please make attendance easier for instructors and add more options.:smileyplus: