Texas Tech University

Attendance Policies

Creating a successful attendance policy can be difficult.  Numerous factors contribute to the establishment of the final policy including: university policy, departmental policy, individual beliefs or expectations, class size, course content.  The list goes on.  There is no "perfect" attendance policy.  There is not one right way.  A successful attendance policy is reflective of the course objectives and expectations, leaving no questions about what is required of the students. 

Your Policy

 When composing an attendance policy it is critical that the language is clear and concise.  One of the first things to determine and to state is how students will be affected by their attendance.  If attendance, or lack thereof, will directly influence students' grades, the attendance policy should reflect accordingly.  In addition examples and/or explanations can be very helpful as they provide students with a fool-proof guide to the policy's application.  It is best not to make any assumptions, spell everything out including explanations of excused and unexcused absences and make-up policies.

A general observation: don't get wordy — be articulate and concise. Clarity is key!

TTU Policy (OP 34.04)

Responsibility for class attendance rests with the student. Regular and punctual attendance at all scheduled classes is expected, and the university reserves the right to deal at any time with individual cases of non-attendance.

The instructor determines the effect of absences on grades consistent with university policy for excused and unexcused absences. When absences jeopardize a student's standing in a class, it is the responsibility of the instructor to report that fact to the student's dean. Excessive absences constitute cause for dropping a student from class. The drop may be initiated by the instructor but must be formally executed by the academic dean. If the drop occurs before the 45th class day of a long semester or the 15th class day of a summer term, the Office of the Registrar will assign a grade of DG. If the drop occurs after those times, the student will receive an F. In extreme cases, the academic dean may suspend the student from the university.

Department chairpersons, directors, or others responsible for a student representing the university on officially approved trips must notify the student's instructors of the departure and return schedules.
The instructor so notified must not penalize the student, although the student is responsible for material missed. Any student absent because of university business must be allowed to make up missed work within a reasonable span of time or have alternate grades substituted for work due to an excused absence. Students absent because of university business must be given the same privileges as other students; e.g., if other students are given the choice of dropping one of four tests, then students with excused absences must be given the same privilege.

In case of an illness that will require an absence from class for more than one week, the student should notify her/his academic dean. The dean's office will inform the student's instructors through the departmental office. In case of class absences because of a brief illness, the student should inform the instructor directly.

Refer to OP 34.19, Student Absence for Observance of Religious Holy Days, for information regarding an absence to observe a religious holy day.

TTU Operating Policy and Procedure Manual

Examples of Institutional Policies

Links Descriptions

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University offers logical and reasonable suggestions for absences and absence documentation for their instructors to follow in creating their own attendance policies.  The language is good as it is broad enough to allow for extenuating circumstances, but still clear enough to rule out unjustifiable claims

Kent State

This brochure from Kent State in Ohio is geared to new teachers and teaching assistants who are establishing a syllabi and preparing a course.  Although the statement is brief, it clearly delineates information that needs to be included in the attendance policy

Marquette University

Marquette University provides a complete list of attendance regulations for the University and individual Colleges or Departments.  This information is provided for students on the Marquette website and students are apparently responsible for learning this information.  While each departmental policy includes a statement that individual instructors can develop his/her own attendance policy, instructors' policies are clearly influenced by the general policy of his/her department.  These are great examples of policies across the board at one University

Michigan State University

Michigan State University provides detailed information on absences that the University recommends as excused (field trips, athletes, religious observances, etc.), but ultimately gives individual instructors the responsibility of creating his/her own attendance policy. For more information from MSU on what to include in policiesclick here


Faculty Policy Examples

Links Descriptions

Locke Carter - English 3369: Information Design, Spring 2007, TTU

Dr. Carter includes a detailed attendance policy that begins with a brief statement regarding the benefits of attending class.  His policy continues with a quotation from the TTU Undergraduate Catalog which illustrates the instructor's right to establish his/her own policy.  The policy is strict but clear and expectations are stated for documentation and make-up work

Ed Check - Art 4362: Art Instruction in Secondary Education, Spring 1998, TTU

Dr. Check's policy is that attendance is mandatory.  His policy includes examples of how a student's grade would be affected by absences so there should be no confusion over the policy.  Dr. Check also includes a policy for being tardy and/or leaving early, as well as a statement on assignments.  This policy leaves no doubts about what is expected of the students

Christopher Smith - Honors 3304: Music, Folklore, and Traditional Culture in Irish History, TTU

Dr. Smith's attendance statement is very brief, saying only that attendance is mandatory and absences will be penalized.  There is no clarification of how the grade will be affected.  Attendance is re-addressed later in the syllabus with a statement regarding students' responsibility for all material covered or completed in class.  Perhaps a section devoted specifically to attendance that provided students with all expectations in one location could be included

Charles J. Stewart and William B. Cash - Interviewing: Principles and Practices, MSU

This site from Moorhead State University provides a guide for constructing a syllabus by offering suggestions of topics to consider including in your own syllabus.  For a sample syllabus click here. The sample syllabus includes a statement on the instructor's right to excuse absences on a case by case basis. Statements such as these can soften otherwise strict policies, allowing the instructor options for extenuating circumstances

Debby Keen - CS 101: Introduction to Computers, Spring 2007, UK

This is an attendance policy from a Computer Science course at the University of Kentucky.  These instructors chose to individually address many of the issues faced in an attendance policy.  Their policy is clearly defined and explicitly outlines how various situations should be handled

Teaching, Learning, & Professional Development Center