University of Wisconsin–Madison

Automated attendance system to promote timeliness and focus

What I wanted:

Students who arrive late to class, leave early, or do not show up altogether are disruptive to the classroom environment as well as their own learning. In addition, without being held accountable for their attendance, students tend to rush through classroom activities in order to leave early.

What I tried

We implemented an automated attendance system requiring students to swipe in and out of class using their Wiscard ID. The system records timeliness, tardiness, and absence. A 5% participation grade influenced by attendance record was used to motivate policy adherence.  Attendance records are automatically compiled at the end of the semester and tallied to determine grade influence.

Next time I would…

This has been an excellent addition to the classroom environment. Students are present to work through the in class activities, and they stay focused on the tasks knowing they are required to be there the whole hour. They arrive on time, which allows for maximum use of class time with minimal distraction from late arrivals and early departures. Students have reported an appreciation for the climate it sets. There are minimal setbacks, such as students late for legitimate reasons, but dealing with those are absolutely worth the improvements the system brings.  Students also choose to stay longer in the lab portion of the course, where they often have spare time to work on their lab reports or leave. This increases the quality of their work time due to the presence of the TA to answer questions and shape their learning.

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