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Attendance Overhaul

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.
Community Member

I recently posted a request regarding the attendance (roll call) feature and was notified about this thread that appears to have been archived back in November 2015.
I'm adding my request here and hoping that there is some revitalized interest in beginning work on this feature. Even a few small updates at a time would be helpful/appreciated.

My request can be found here:

I am currently using the Attendance feature in Canvas. However, additional choices beyond the current selections of present, absent, and late would be extremely helpful. In order to be a more useful feature, I would like to see the addition of absent - excused (illness), absent - excused (other), absent - excused (religious holiday), and absent - excused (weather).

For example, when approving an absence so that a set of students are able to attend an educational conference. With these choices, we would be able to enter this information when the approval occurred. This would allow instructors to keep the information in one place rather than tracking it separately on a piece of paper, on email, or in a computer file.

In another example, when a student is excused from class for an illness, they are allowed to make up activities, quizzes, exams, etc that occurred during that class. Being able to note the absence as excused allows easy tracking to ensure that the make-up opportunities are provided to the student, again without separate paper, email, or computer files.

This would also allow for better student tracking and reporting to identify and intervene if a student is struggling in a class where multiple absences might be a contributing factor.

Community Participant


I need your help.

Please vote for Include badges in the Roll Call Attendance Report !

Without badges in the report Roll Call Report does not make sense.

Thank you for support!!! Smiley Happy

Community Team
Community Team
  Idea is currently in Product Radar Learn more about this stage...
Community Member

I want to stress the value of developing a comment field in attendance--not just in grades. There should be a daily comment field. Thanks!

Community Participant

I would like to see an option for a rule to be added for number of absences. Many of our faculty have indications in their syllabi that a student can miss up to x number of classes without penalty. Would like to see the option to award full points until that limit has been reached and then start deducting (or have the option to drop to zero) after the limit. Right now, the only option is percentage of attendance, which means theres a deduction for each individual absence. 

Community Team
Community Team

If you're following this feature idea, then attendance must be a topic of interest for you--so be sure to RSVP to the CanvasLIVE event A Simple Attendance LTI, which is coming up today: Monday, December 12, 2016. RSVP “yes” if you will be there--and if you’re interested, but your schedule doesn’t allow you to attend in real time, RSVP "no" or "maybe" to receive all event updates. Your RSVP ensures that you will receive a notification should the event be cancelled or changed. 

Community Participant

Great point, Kelly! We need an attendance tool that can model our attendance policies.

My organization has a standardized attendance policy across all of our programs.

Percentage of Total Course Hours MissedMinimum Penalty
Up to 10%No academic penalty
10-20%Reduction of final grade
More than 20% Automatic course failure, and possible expulsion
*excessive tardiness to class may be considered absenteeism.

"A student can miss up to x number of classes without penalty" still wouldn't be a perfect fit with our policies above, but it would be a dramatic improvement and maybe we'd even adjust our policies to match it.

Community Participant

My IT department is not supporting or integrated with Canvas, so I have no way to create a report for an individual student without an SIS.  There needs to be a way to create a report for individual students without the SIS information.

Community Member

I thought I would add my current workaround. (I continue to like Canvas more than any other LMS that I have tried or have to use, including Moogle, Blackboard, and a couple of others -- but the attendance feature is, I think, inexcusably lame and unhelpful for an otherwise excellent program.)

This semester, I am keeping my attendance in an Excel spreadsheet. I have students in rows and a double column for each week: one for the score, and one for comments (late, really late, excused, sick, sick but made up, etc.). I can quickly and easily see, at a glance, who has come, who has not, and why, for the entire semester, and I can easily change scores when I need to.

Of course, that requires an extra step -- adding the attendance to Canvas. I have one assignment called "Attendance" that will eventually be worth 15 points (one point per week). After 4 weeks, I assigned a value of 4 points, updated the scores to reflect student attendance, and put in a comment about the individual attendance. After 7 weeks, I did a similar update, and will do it a couple of other times during the semester. It's overly complex and extra work that I shouldn't have to do, but it's the only way I have figured out to give me the basic information and flexibility that I need.

So, c'mon, Canvas. Can you fix this? (I really think it's a broken feature.)

Community Participant

OK, I'm a little late to the discussion, which has been going on for a while. There have been some really good improvements to the tool in the meantime (really nice reporting for students, and sections available within the tool are two of the big ones.)

Here's an additional idea to add to the mix (this was originally a separate request, that's why it's formatted this way). Hope this is helpful!

As a teacher, I want to have access to the nicely formatted roll call report for each student, so I can more easily interpret attendance data and communicate accurately with the student.


When a student access the Roll Call Attendance assignment within Canvas, they are presented with a very nicely formatted report.


See How do I view my Roll Call Attendance report as a student?  for more info


When an instructor creates a report within the Attendance tool, they are presented with a CSV download of data that can be difficult for instructors to interpret without more advanced tools. It would be fantastic if, when the instructor opened SpeedGrader on the Roll Call Attendance assignment, they were presented with the same report. It would help the instructor quickly and easily access and interpret the data that's put into the Attendance tool.

Community Champion

 @caryn ‌ -- Within Dropout Detective from Alliance Partner - AspirEDU‌, we've added an Attendance screen that pulls data from Roll Call every night and formats it like this.  It isn't available in a pretty report, but the UI is easy to use.  And an instructor could use the "Previous" and "Next" buttons at the bottom to quickly flip through a class roster.


Community Participant

The badges in Attendance should tie to an action. There is an excused badge, so it should excuse the student for that day. But it doesn't you have to leave the student as unmarked to not affect their score.  I would like to see a way to add a badge and have it do something. There be choices like an excuse badge excuses. Another page "boosts" their score. I don't know all the options that would be effective. Also, there can be an option for no action to occur. 

Community Participant

You can only enter Rollcall attendance on a day-to-day basis. But some courses are attended a couple of times a day. E.g. (hour 1-2: Theory, hour 4-5 Practice, hour 7-8: Quiz testing). We would like to have several times a day to put a student on present/absent/late. 

Community Member

I would really like it if there was a way to add an editable field to the roll call list that would allow for instructor information to be included to help us take roll more effectively. Being able to include phonetic spellings or preferred names, for instance, would be helpful. Also, sometimes I get a Google translate pronunciation link, other times not. It would be nice to always have this option (might just be a Chrome thing).

Having that ability to ADD a new entry to the list would be helpful. I realize it's linked to the school's roster, but it creates a problem for some students. It's disadvantageous to students who will later add the class, even though they may physically show up on the first day of class, their attendance can easily go unrecorded. There's no way for an instructor to add a person to this list, even as a temporary entry for record keeping.

I use my roster to help me connect faces to names. The roster could go a long way to helping me remember my students' names as a sign of respect and dignity to them. I have not yet used it, but being able to drag a student into the seating chart would be most helpful if the picture and name of the student populates the chart. (I'll try it today to see how it goes on my first day of summer class.)

How about regularly sending all students, who don't already have a selfie photograph, an encouraging email from Canvas asking them to consider adding a good selfie to their Canvas account???

Community Member

 @kona  Nice Work I think these are some great ideas to improve the attendance on Canvas. 

Community Coach
Community Coach

Thanks! Attendance definitely could use some love!

Community Member

I have another wish list item:

I would like to see the image for students enlarge SIGNFICANTLY when moused-over. Right now it's nearly impossible even at VGA resolution to see faces on pictures students have used on their Canvas accounts, especially when they include not just a head-shot! Having it automatically enlarge when mousing over, to like four times its current size, would be really nice.


 @rthornton ‌ and  @jayde_colquhoun  I would love your feedback on this Attendance Overhaul feature idea if you have any ideas. This feature has the potential to provide us better reporting mechanisms to meet the needs of an ASQA Audit model when it comes to tracking face to face/ live online engagement levels with students. 

An #up vote‌ or #comment‌ will help us better understand industry needs and where you see value add. 

Community Contributor

Hi Chris,

I'm wondering if your teachers are still taking attendance in your SIS, or if you have found a better solution?  

Community Member

Need EXCUSED as an option, PLEASE!

We are required to keep attendance as students are expected to attend every class unless they are granted an EXCUSED absence. EXCUSED absences are given for a variety of reasons including representing the college at events (ex. athlete traveling to an away game), and should not penalize the student's grade.We just switched to CANVAS...and overall... I love it, but our college is going to have issues handling attendance without EXCUSED as an option.

I am curious...

  1. Has anyone heard from CANVAS recently about plans to implement EXCUSED as an option anytime in the near future?
  2. Has anyone found a workaround or 3rd-party Attendance tool that integrates with CANVAS (preferably that doesn't cost that much)?

Thank you!!! Smiley Happy