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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 agree that the attendance feature is very clumsy.  I am extremely comfortable with Excel and yet I still find it a grueling task to sort through the attendance report for my 200+ students because the names are displayed in First Middle Last order, making it impossible to sort by last name.  This same problem exists in the Student Analysis feature on quizzes.

Community Member

This thread was started way back in 2015 and Canvas has yet to address the lack of an even remotely usable Attendance feature. We are told by Canvas support to suggest and upvote, but here you can see that a very reasonable  feature request--a usable Attendance / Participation app--has gone ignored since 2015. What clearly needs to be overhauled is the means by which Canvas addresses developing software to meet teachers' needs. In my case, my university rammed Canvas down our throats rather than continue to provide in-house support for the vastly more usable Moodle. It has been constant frustration ever since trying to get Canvas to do the basic functions that were so easy to do on Moodle. 

What I need is to be able to make my own categories of attendance / participation and assign values and have those automatically populated to the grade book. This took 1 minute in Moodle. Also, to create sessions so that only those days the class meets are recorded, took 1 minute in Moodle. Not sure why Canvas can't look at what basic features other LMSs offer, features that teachers actually need, and just develop those, rather than ignoring a thread since 2015 because the votes haven't crossed some arbitrary threshold. 

Community Participant

Makes me wonder who's running the show at canvas and if, for example, they

are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, so they can afford to only hire

one computer programmer. Or if all their programmers only work an hour a

day because they're on social media or worse --goofing off all day? I don't

want to be mean but after 4 years of inaction on a no-brainer problem (and

similar non- action on quizzes next), what else are we supposed to think?

They're worse than the DMV! I'd get fired with this level of productivity.

On Sun, Sep 8, 2019, 10:10 PM <>

Community Participant

I wholeheartedly agree with this. Attendance is used for so many purposes, most notably for intervention purposes. Because of the lack of functionality Canvas provides, we have spent numerous hours on workarounds to get where we want to be. It definitely would be nice if this were a priority for Canvas.

Community Member

I agree the attendance tool needs an overhaul. The most annoying thing about it, in my opinion, is that the attendance report is not sortable by last name. I have the same issue with the Student Analysis option in quizzes. I have 236 students and any report that is not sortable by last name is pretty much useless to me.

Jennifer Newton

Lecturer/ Coordinator of Multi-variable Business Calculus

School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences

Martin Hall O-319

Clemson University

Community Member

How about making the badges in Roll Call show up on the printed Attendance Report.  That way I could make badges for Excused Absence and School Activity and it could show up on the report.  That way someone does not have to click the more box for every student to see if there was a badge for attendance for every student.

Community Member

It seems we keep talking about this, and talking about it, but Canvas is not paying attention.  We have to take attendance by federal mandate.  Is that not compelling enough?  How often do we have to Like or post so that someone will take notice?  I would rather spend my time preparing and teaching my classes, not commenting and Liking.

Community Member

I find roll call to be generally useful. There are times, however, when I am not able to enter the attendance in during the class session due to the course time. That means I have to input the information the next day. Since my course is cross-listed between three departments, I have to record attendance by selecting each section individually. When I move from one section to the next, it automatically switches the date to the current date, rather than the date I am entering attendance for.


For example, I am recording attendance for 9/24 but today is 9/25. After adjusting the calendar for 9/24 and inputting the attendance and go to the next section, it defaults back to 9/25. Is there a way to get around this/modify it? I hadn't realized this was happening until I had already inputted information for all three sections. I had to go back and correct it. While a minor inconvenience, it took up more time than I would have liked. 


Any insight is appreciated.

Community Champion

Yes Daniel Schaeffer we need badges to be included in the report.

Community Champion

Agree Eva Shay, DO and Aaron Bergeson. For classes that have lab and lecture on the same day, it's essential to allow more than one session time per day to be created and recorded separately. Kona has a great hack for using "late" as meaning only attending one session, although that's not a good solution for those who track tardiness.  Using badges to define which session was attended is also good but badges are not part of the report.  We need something official.

Community Contributor

Have Roll Call track attendance across multiple sections

Currently, Roll Call only tracks a student's attendance within one section within a Canvas course.


Many of our courses have a more complex structure: all students are enrolled in one large Lecture section, and they are enrolled in one of several smaller Discussion sections, all within the same Canvas course.


Thus, within a given week, one student may attend two lectures, (on, say, Mondays and Wednesdays), then one discussion (on, say, Thursday). That is a total of three attendance "events".


Roll Call, currently, cannot handle this set up. It does permit the instructor to capture all the attendances, for each of these three-dates-per-week. But, Roll Call does not combine them for a total attendance count across both sections. Instead, it will only pass to the gradebook the attendance grade for whichever section was most-recently edited... either the Lecture attendance record, or the Discussion attendance record.


We request Roll Call to be enabled to track and report to the gradebook ALL attendance events which get recorded for a student across multiple sections.


Community Member

Does anyone get the feeling Canvas grew way faster than they thought they would and, therefore, they are incapable of keeping up with customer support in general? The fact that this is still an issue blows my mind. Canvas attendance is inconvenient and it would seem needlessly so. In my position of student support officer, I have to check attendance across the semester. I can't do that with any type of convenience.

Community Participant

You may be right. Or else, on the opposite end of the spectrum, Canvas is not growing fast enough to have enough revenue, and therefore hasn’t hired enough software engineers. Either way, my mind is blown too.

Community Member

I would add an option for the teacher to put up a temporary code so that the students can mark themselves present so we dont have to manually add every day.

Community Participant

Agreed! Ability to make excused absences is needed.

Community Member

I and many of my colleagues would especially like to be able to see the number of absences and tardies each student has for the semester (one of the suggestions in the proposal above). Many of us have policies where we give extra credit if they've only missed one or drop students if they've missed a certain number. Moreover, this is a major predictor of success in a class, so it's important to be able to see how many classes each student has missed so that we can address it and provide support. Please add this feature. It's too time-consuming to use the Roll Call feature AND use a paper attendance sheet as well. Thank you!

Community Member

Excused absence:  provide comment section so we can enter reason why. Sometimes it's medical and it would help faculty has this record to remind students to get those medical records submitted to us for grade audits. 

NO CLASS - allow this feature. With unforseen school closures or holidays, we currently just have to skip taking attendance, which looks more like we forgot to take it when in fact class was not held that day. 

Attendance is still not visible to students under "attendance" left menu link. Student grades are sometimes linked to attendance and it's best for them to keep track of their own attendance to hold themselves accountable. 

Thanks for listening. 

Community Participant

I would like to have a comments section so you can make notes each day about why a student is absent, late, etc....  You would also be able to put this note for a future date so, if they tell you in 2 weeks they'll be absent, you can write that for that date and not wonder where they are absent.  I would also like to be able to put a nick name or alternative name in for each student.

Community Member

Would  like to add a suggestion that attendance should have a option to Session wise. we have many days faculty takes 2 or more sessions in a day for same course.



Community Member

Hello Everyone,

I am new here, and I would like to be a little more specific with an addition of items to the Attendance - Roll Call: 

After speaking with Canvas Customer Service today, January 25, 2020, I have learned how if we want to add an additional items to the list of items to click on, such as the Check Mark for being in attendance (√), Absent (X), or Late (336370_pastedImage_2.png), I need to have other users, teachers, agree with adding new items to the list.  So, I am highly recommending, the adding of a "Sick" (S) item, and a "Military" (M) item to the list. 

Any ideas?? Suggestions?

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