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Taking Attendance Using Canvas Roll Call

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This article is for Faculty who would like to record daily attendance in Canvas.

Article Overview

Attendance report CSV files from Roll Call Attendance do not include excused absences.  

The Canvas Roll Call Attendance feature will create an attendance column in the course gradebook after attendance has been taken for the first time. This column will update each time attendance is recorded. This tool should only be added to a course one time.

1. Adding Roll Call Attendance to Your Canvas Course

Navigate to Settings for your course. This is the last link in the Course Navigation Menu.

Image of Course Navigation Menu with Settings link highlighted

Select the Navigation tab.

Image of settings page with navigation tab highlighted

Scroll to down and find Attendance. It will be in the lower list if it is not already enabled.

Image of Navigation settings with attendance in the lower hidden group highlighted

(1) Select the three-dot kebab menu and (2) choose Enable.

Image of three dot menu for attendance opened and + enable selected

Scroll down and select Save.

Image of bottom of navigation page with the save button highlighted

The Attendance link will now appear to faculty in the Course Navigation Menu. It will not appear to students, but they will see an attendance grade on their Grades page after you take attendance for the first time.  

Image of Course Navigation Menu with Attendance link highlighted

2. Taking Attendance and Accessing the Attendance Report

2.1. Using the Roll Call Attendance Tool

To access the attendance tool, select the Attendance link from the Course Navigation Menu.

Image of Course Navigation Menu with the Attendance link highlighted

(1) Make sure you are in List view. The date is displayed below the gray title menu bar; by default, the current date is displayed. (2) Use the calendar to take attendance for a different day.

Image of Roll Call page in list view with roster of test students

For small classes, select the gray and white circles to mark a student present, absent, or late.

Image of Roll Call page with top student's circle marked present

In a large class with good attendance, use the Mark All Present button.

Image of Roll Call with the button to mark all present highlighted and green checkmarks for all students

Then mark any absent students by selecting the circle by their names until a red x appears.

Image of Roll Call with one student marked absent with red x

To mark a student late, select the circle by his or her name multiple times until an orange clock appears.

Image of Roll Call with one student marked late with an orange clock

By default, the Roll Call Attendance tool counts a late as 80% of one day present.  To adjust the credit students get for being marked late, (1) select the settings gear and (2) choose Roll Call Settings.

Image of roll call with settings gear selected and roll call settings highlighted

Drag the slider to make the percentage higher or lower.

Image of settings with option to not count toward final grade and slider for a lateness counts for what percent of presence

If you select the checkbox for Do not count attendance toward final grade, students will still see their attendance score, but they will see a note that it will not be part of their final grade.

For an excused absence, leave the circle next to a student's name gray or, if using the Mark All Present button, select the circle until it turns gray again. This will be recorded in Roll Call Attendance as "unmarked."

Image of Roll Call with one student Priscilla marked excused with a gray not circle

The attendance score for a student who has an excused absence will be out of a fewer number or course meetings. Excused course meetings will not count against him or her, and the days that are counted will have a greater effect on his or her attendance grade.

Roll Call Attendance allows faculty to create "badges" and it is possible to create an "excused absence" badge; steps are available in the Instructure Community article: "How do I use Roll Call Attendance badges in a course." This badge will not appear to students or in CSV attendance reports.

2.2. Viewing a Student's Overall Attendance

To view a student's overall attendance, select More. This will display his or her overall attendance in a list and today's attendance to the right.

Image of Roll Call page with the more button highlighted for a student

A summary of the student's present, late, and absent days will be displayed, along with the current day's attendance status and attendance percentage.

Image of attendance summary for a student with days present, late, and absent. Also status

In the image below, Ronny has been present six days. In contrast, Priscilla has been present three days, late one day, and absent one day. Her excused day does not count against her.  

Image of Ronny's attendance with 6 present and Priscilla's attendance with 3 present 1 late and 1 absent

The image below shows the attendance score for a student who has been late one day and has not been marked absent for any days. The attendance score is 80%.

Image of Roll Call with more selected for a student and a summary for today and number of present absent late days

Now that attendance has been marked for one day, the Roll Call Attendance assignment will appear in the Canvas gradebook (shown below); it will also appear on the Assignments page.

Image of Canvas gradebook with the Roll Call Attendance column highlighted and percentages for students

2.3. Accessing the Attendance Report

To view a spreadsheet with attendance data, (1) select the settings gear icon and (2) choose Attendance Report.

Image of Roll Call page with 1 settings gear icon and 2 attendance report options selected

To get a report for the entire class, enter your email address and, if necessary, enter the dates that you would like the report to include. Select the Run Report button.

Image of Roll Call attendance report export data page with area to filter data and an email address to send and run report button to request report

If you need attendance data for a specific student, enter his or her SIS Student ID (NetID). Then select Run Report.

Go to your email inbox and find the email titled Roll Call Attendance Report.

Image of email inbox with email from Roll Call subject heading Roll Call Attendance Report

This email will include a temporary link to a downloadable spreadsheet.

Image of email from Roll Call with the message You can download your report for next 6 hours and link

Select the downloaded CSV file from your browser or your computer's downloads folder.

Image of icon in browser for downloaded CSV file

Columns A through J show basic course information. Columns K through M will show attendance data.

Image of spreadsheet with columns for course information sutdent infomration teacher and attendance data

These later columns will display student names, attendance status, and the timestamp from when attendance was recorded.

Image of CSV file with Column K student name Column L class date M attendance N timestamp

If a student is initially marked absent and then switched to excused, he or she will no longer have an entry for that date in the attendance report.

Attendance data is organized by when attendance was taken (Column O: Timestamp). In the example below, data for the August 1st class date appears below the data for the August 2nd class date because it was recorded later.

Image of Class Date column with August 2nd entries above August 1st entries

3. Viewing Attendance Grades

3.1. Finding Roll Call Attendance in the Gradebook

To view attendance grades in Canvas, select Grades from the Course Navigation Menu.  

Image of Course Navigation Menu with Grades link highlighted

Find the column for Roll Call Attendance or search for it in the Assignment Names field.

Image of Gradebook page with Roll Call Attendance in the Assignment Names search field

A column for Roll Call Attendance will only appear after attendance has been taken at least once. Do not rename this assignment.

By default, attendance grades are displayed as a percentage out of 100. Each student's percentage will be updated after attendance is taken each course meeting.

Image of Gradebook with Roll Call Attendance column with attendance percentages for students

The following image shows the same course later in the term. Kacy and Kendall's grades are lower due to subsequent absences. One of Priscilla's absences was changed to "unmarked" because it was an excused absence, increasing her attendance grade.

Image of Gradebook with Roll Call Attendance column with updated new percentages for students after attendance is taken again

To adjust assignment settings, select the assignment's name: Roll Call Attendance.

Image of Gradebook with the title for the Roll Call Attendance column highlighted

The Roll Call Attendance page will display the option to Edit Assignment Settings on the right.

Image of Roll Call Attendance Assignment Page with Edit Assignment Settings button highlighted

Do not delete, unpublish, or rename the Roll Call Attendance assignment or it will not function correctly.

Do not change the assignment name. It is possible to add information about how attendance will be graded below in the Rich Content Editor.

Image of Assignment Name with a not symbol and the Content Editor below with the text Attendance will make up 5% of your total grade

By default, Roll Call Attendance is out of 100 points and students see their attendance grades as a percentage. Additionally, attendance is counted toward the final grade. It is possible to change (1) the points, (2) assignment group, (3) display method, and (4) impact on the final grade.

Image of Roll Call Attendance Assignment Settings for 1 points 2 assignment group 3 display grade as percentages 4 unchecked do not count this assignment towards the final grade

Editing the points and display options may cause calculation errors, especially if these are changed multiple times.

If you notice attendance grade errors, re-synchronize the attendance tool to the gradebook: (1) Select a day when students do not have class from the calendar, (2) select Mark all present, and then (3) select Unmark all. (4) Verify attendance scores are correct by going to the gradebook.

Image of Roll Call Attendance 1 calendar 2 mark all present button 3 unmark all button and grades course navigation link highlighted

Please make an appointment with one of our course designers (elearning specialists) if you plan to adjust how many points the attendance assignment is worth or if the gradebook is displaying incorrect values in the Roll Call Attendance column and you would like the settings to be reset. Do not delete or unpublish the Roll Call Attendance assignment.

3.2. Finding Roll Call Attendance in Student View

After attendance has been taken, students will be able to view their attendance percentage. They will go to Grades in the Course Navigation Menu.

Image of Course Navigation Menu with Grades link highlighted

On the Grades page, they should find the row for Roll Call Attendance. (1) This will show their percentage. (2) To view details, they will select the link Roll Call Attendance.

Image of Grades Page Attendance row with 1 percentage and 2 link for Roll Call Attendance highlighted

Students will have access to a summary of their attendance; this includes the number of days they were present, absent, and late.

Image of student's view of an attendance report with late, absent, and present days and table with date day status and % points


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