Course Attendance and Engagement (policy)

  1. Every undergraduate course syllabus shall outline any requirements for attendance, how absences affect grades and the conditions under which coursework can be made up. For courses that have engagement requirements rather than attendance requirements, such as ASYNC WEB or performance-based courses, syllabi shall outline requirements for engagement, what constitutes lack of engagement and if and how missed engagement opportunities can be made up. Instructors have discretion to determine how many absences or how much “lack of engagement” is reasonable for their course before grades are impacted and how makeup assignments count toward grades (e.g. partial or full credit?). Instructors are encouraged to develop attendance or engagement policies that give students some room for unexpected events over the course of the term.
  1. Every course syllabus shall outline how to handle work turned in after deadlines. Faculty have discretion to determine which, if any, assignments can be turned in late or made up, and what the consequences are as pedagogically appropriate for the course.
  1. University policies governing course absences supersede course-level policies. The university policies on religious accommodation and accessible education are two to be particularly aware of. These both require students to provide documentation that the student may miss class under these policies. Other university policies that touch on attendance are listed later in this document.
  1. University-sponsored events are considered verifiable, legitimate reasons for participating students to miss class. Most often this is associated with students involved in athletic events but not always. When students miss class for university-sponsored activities, faculty are strongly encouraged to make pedagogically sound and justifiable modifications that will enable the students to be successful in the course where possible. However, this request has limits and conditions:
    • Students who participate in university-sponsored activities that might cause them to miss class are responsible for providing documentation signed by a university employee verifying their participation in the activity and listing the dates that they might miss class. This should be done during week one of the term. Instructors can then determine if appropriate modifications can be made to coursework or due dates
    • In classes with substantial class participation, project or lab work, appropriate modifications may not be possible. In those instances, the student should be informed that the course is not a good fit in a term with significant absences. Under no circumstances should the instructor offer a modification that is pedagogically unsound or that would be unavailable to other students.
  1. Except for the legitimate and verifiable reasons for absences referenced in 3 and 4, instructors shall not ask for reasons for absences and shall not distinguish between “excused” and “unexcused” absences since there is no equitable way to confirm the veracity of student-provided reasons or documentation outside the university context. Course absence policies should be reason-neutral. Faculty are not required to provide make-up opportunities, but make-up opportunities need to be available to all students equally.
  1. Except for the documentation referenced in 3 and 4, instructors shall not ask students for documentation for absences.
  1. Course attendance and engagement policies are meant to address common student absences or late work over the course of a term. Instructors should be aware of how to advise students who experience extraordinary circumstances that cause extensive absences or late work. For instance:
    • Dean of Students “Emergency Academic Notification” – When students are unexpectedly absent and incapacitated due to a crisis, serious illness, or injury, and unable to contact their individual instructors directly, the Dean of Students Office can send out an emergency academic notification on their behalf. The Dean of Students does not excuse absences for students and faculty should not send students to the DOS for this purpose. The Emergency Academic Notification is only for students who cannot contact their instructors directly and is meant to provide instructors information so that they can know the student is experiencing a crisis and can work with the student within the context of their course policies.
    • Withdrawal and Grade Change dates and processes – In some cases, the best option is for a student to withdraw or change their grading option while they manage their situation. See this advising page on options for students in terms of withdrawal and grade changes
    • Incomplete – If an unexpected situation happens toward the end of the term, an Incomplete may be appropriate.
    • Student Petitions – students also have petition options after the term if they were unable to make changes during the term due to their situation.

Approved By: University Senate        Date: 04/15/2022

Motion Number: US21/22-21

Revision History: First version approved 04/15/2022

Original Source:


Office of the Provost interpretation and guidance for implementing the policy

See other university attendance policies

TEP Resources for Enacting this policy