Canvas - Attendance: Recording, Viewing and Setup

Attendance in Canvas

The attendance tool in Canvas is very simple to use, however it does not return easily usable data nor does it sum up absences. However it does keep a record of all absences, and students can see a record of their absences. Below are instructions for taking attendance and setting up attendance that will allow you to use the attendance feature to help you and students track attendance. An overhaul to the attendance features is on the Canvas radar, but they are currently focusing their work on other features. When it will improve is unknown.  

Taking Attendance in Canvas

  1. Click on Attendance in the course menu.
  2. Choose your section.
  3. Choose the date.
  4. Click each student multiple times to move through the attendance options for that student. (Mark all present may also be useful.)
    • ⊘ = not yet marked
    • √ = Present
    • X = Absent
    •  🕙 = Tardy
  5. Navigating away from the page saves the attendance.
  6. Put a note on the roll call attendance grade with the date of the absence. That will allow you to track when and how many absences a student has without having to generate a report.

Note: You can create badges to track excused/unexcused or other information, but badges are not shown on reports.

Viewing Attendance

Instructors should not attempt to review existing attendance using the main attendance page.  Instead download an attendance report which provides a CSV of all the present, absent and tardy marks for each student.  You will need to sort and filter to see the number of absences for each student.

  1. Click Attendance.
  2. Once it loads, click on the gear in the upper right corner of the attendance window.
  3. Choose attendance report.
  4. Choose the options for your report.
  5. Type in your email address for where to send the report.
  6.  Click run the report.

Once you open the file we recommend you set a filter to show  "absent", which should allow you to see which students have excessive absences.There is also a Google sheet with built in pivot tables that can allow you to more quickly review attendance.  Check out the community post Easy to Use Google Sheet for Interpreting Your Roll Call Attendance Report.

Setting Up Attendance - For Instructors

Instructors should set up attendance before class begins. Untouched, Attendance will count as 100 points in your gradebook. If you do not want it to count towards the final grade, you have two setup options explained below.

Important Notes!

Canvas attendance will not count absences for you. What it will do is create an assignment in the gradebook called "Roll Call Attendance" worth 100 points.  

  • Never change the name.
  • Never unpublish attendance.
  • Never change the assignment type.
  • It counts as 100 points - don't change that unless you have to as it requires extra work (not recommended)
  • It displays as a percentage of attendance so far. don't change that unless you have to as it requires extra work (not recommended) 
  • Students see the roll call attendance percentage and a table with the absence dates.
  •  Attendance and all its setup imports to the next semester course and requires no setup.

Setup Attendance Grading

  1. Click on Attendance and for one student click through the attendance options (present, absent, tardy, unmarked) being sure to end on unmarked. This creates the "Roll Cal Attendance" assignment. 
  2. Now go to Assignments and find the Roll Call Attendance (in the first assignment group).
    1. Option 1: removed from gradebook and NOT visible to students.
      1. Click on the three dots to the right of the name and choose Edit.
      2.  Click More Options.
      3. Change the Display grade as to Not Graded.
      4. Save.  Note: You CANNOT restore the Roll Call Attendance assignment once you do this.
    2. Option 2: students see attendance but it does NOT count towards grades:
      1. Return to Attendance.
      2. Click the settings and choose Roll call settings.
      3. Check the box  for Do not count attendance toward final grade.
      4. Close the window.
      5. To verify you can go to Assignments, click the three dots to the right of "Roll Call Attendance" and choose Edit > More options. The "Do not count this assignment towards the final grade" box should be checked.  

Set the meaning of Tardy

This is only necessary if tardies affect grading or absence counts.
    1.    Go to Attendance.
    2.    Click on the gear in the upper right and choose Roll Call Settings.
    3.    Choose A lateness counts as want percent of a presence?  If you set it to zero, tardy = absent. If you set it to 100, Tardy = present.


Guide with images

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