Blackboard has recently introduced an attendance module for instructors who track attendance and utilize it as a component of grading. The tool allows instructors to mark the student as present, late, absent or excused and implementation will add a column to the Grade Center and include the associated points in the overall grade for the course just as an assignment score is included.
Setup of Attendance Module
To access Attendance for your course, open up Course Tools and select Attendance as shown in Figure 1. The first time that the Attendance module is accessed, instructors will be provided with settings to select their grade schema for Present, Late and Absent attendance types. The default is 100% points for present, 50% for late and 0% for an absence and only late can be edited. It is recommended that instructors go with the default “Points” setting for Grade using and select to save. These settings may be edited in the future by returning to Course Tools > Attendance and selecting the gear icon.
Further Attendance Configuration
The Attendance module can be configured further to fit the instructor’s needs. Accessing the Attendance module for the first time causes the automatic addition of an Attendance column to the grade book. Visiting the Full Grade Center and selecting the chevron button allows the selection of Edit Column Information. In these settings, an instructor can configure the number of points to award for attendance to the overall student grade. Default points possible is 100 points but this can be adjusted here to fine tune the weighting of this item in the overall grade. An instructor may also elect to override the default settings which include the attendance grade in the Grade Center Calculations if they do not want attendance to effect student grades and whether to show the attendance grade to students in their grade view.
Using the Attendance Feature
Instructors can quickly document attendance for each class session by visiting Course Tools > Attendance to bring up the Attendance module where attendance can be entered and a view of the class attendance to date can be viewed.
Record Attendance in Meeting View
In the Meeting view, instructors simply select from the available Present, Late, Absence or Excused choices by clicking in the appropriate column for each student to record attendance for the session taking place that day.
View and Edit Course Attendance in Overall View
In the Overall view, instructors can see and edit attendance for their class to the present date. The top section of this view provides some highlight statistics concerning total class attendance. This includes the number and percentage of students with perfect attendance and also statistics for the number and percentage of students with above and below average attendance.
The Overall column provides the instructor with the cumulative score to-date for each student of the total possible attendance points. The remaining columns are for each session of the class where attendance has been recorded and the status for each student in those sessions.
Instructors may edit any existing attendance record by clicking on that record which will open up selections to change to another attendance state. For example, if a student provides documentation at the next class session that would excuse their absence, the instructor can return to the overall view to change their absence to Excused which will then exempt that session from the overall score.
To insert an additional column for a missing or past attendance date, the instructor can hover their mouse in the date section of the line separating the columns where they would like the new column to appear. This will reveal a plus (+) symbol which can be clicked to enter a new attendance column (see Figure 4). The default for the new column will be the date following the column immediately to the left. This can be edited after the new column has been created by clicking on the date and then Edit Column.
The Blackboard Instructor mobile app (available for Apple and Android devices through their app stores) allows for an instructor to easily record attendance on a mobile device at the front of a class without accessing a desktop computer. Additionally, editing of attendance for a different session can be completed in the app by navigating with the arrows pointing left or right around Today in the app. Students can also view a summary of their attendance in the app or on a desktop computer if the instructor has made their attendance visible.
Blackboard Support is available to assist instructors who have questions about setting up this useful feature. Please feel free to contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 531-622-2834 (8:00AM – 6:00PM Central, Monday through Friday).