I work in the Computing and Mathematics School at my university (UK). This year the School has adopted a fairly aggressive policy regarding student attendance. If a student has a poor – or zero – attendance rate, the student is contacted and a dialogue opened. This has many benefits including identifying those students who have possible undiscovered or undeclared learning difficulties.
If a student’s attendance rate remains poor following a first intervention, a process of issuing formal warnings commences, culminating with the withdrawal of the student if the student does not start to engage with their course.
Attendance is presently monitored at all laboratory and tutorial sessions. Attendance is not presently monitored for lectures.
Our current system comprises a series of shared Google spreadsheets which contains the details of all students for all classes. Staff members enter attendance manually into the spreadsheet for their class.
The difficulty with this system is that there is presently no automatic link between the existing official university student record database and the attendance register spreadsheets. This means if students change groups, enrol late, withdraw, change course or units, all this information must be dealt with in a robust manner. Currently, such changes are implemented manually. This means errors are likely to be introduced into the attendance register.
I notice that there are a number of commercial attendance monitoring solutions available which are based on hardware, e.g. Telepen. I would be interested in anyone’s experience with such systems, however I don’t forsee these to be ultimately workable in my case owing to the large cost.
I am interested in software solutions. If your institution monitors student attendance, do you use any specialist software? If so, what do you use?
Another option – a preferable one – is to work within the existing university data systems. All the necessary information regarding student details and activities is available. The problem arises when we try to ensure our ad hoc attendance register contains up to date student information. Ideally we’d use our Virtual Learning Environment to enter attendance data. Our VLE is Moodle. Are there any Moodle users out there who use Moodle to record attendance?