Undergraduate Education at Penn State Printer friendly version of the Undergraduate Education at Penn State mark.
Topical Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

E-11: CLASS ATTENDANCE

Class attendance is one of the most important ways students learn and understand course materials. It is a critical element of student success. Class attendance recognizes on exceptional occasions, students may miss a class meeting to participate in a regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activity (such as Martin Luther King’s Day of Service, field trips, debate trips, choir trips, and athletic contests), or due to unavoidable or other legitimate circumstances such as illness, injury, military service, family emergency, religious observance or post-graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to re-schedule these opportunities (such as employment and graduate school final interviews.)

In all cases, students should inform instructors in advance, where possible, and discuss the implications of any absence. Missing class, even for a legitimate purpose, may mean there is work that cannot be made up, hurting the student’s grade in the class. Likewise, students should be prepared to provide documentation for participation in University-approved activities, as well as for career-related interviews, when requested by the instructor.

Procedure:

  1. Faculty should clearly communicate their class attendance policy in the syllabus or in writing to students at the beginning of the semester. To be successful in all courses, students must follow the attendance policy outlined in the syllabus of each course in its entirety.  Class attendance is expected regardless of the format of the class and this expectation applies equally to students in face-to-face, online, and hybrid courses. Attendance in online courses goes beyond course login and is based on documentable participation in class activities, such as interacting with the instructor, interacting with enrolled students, completing assignments with specific due dates, and/or participating in online discussions on a regular basis.

  2. Students who will miss a class in accordance with Senate Policy 42-27, should present a class absence form to the faculty member as soon as possible and, except in unavoidable situations, at least one week in advance of a planned absence. In the case of illness, students are not required to secure the signature of medical personnel. It is the student’s responsibility to complete work in advance, or to make alternate arrangements with the course instructor, if an evaluative event will be missed because of a University-approved absence as described in this policy.
  3. When work cannot be completed in advance, the instructor should provide students, within reason, the opportunity to make up missed work. It should be recognized that not all work can be made-up and absences can ultimately affect student performance in a class. Instructors can determine when irregular attendance negatively affects a student’s scholastic achievement, and thus grade, in the course, even to the point of failure. If class absences constitute a danger to the student’s scholastic attainment, the instructor should make this fact known to the student. The student may appeal this decision to the department in which the course is offered if the student feels they have been unfairly denied a make-up opportunity.

    Ordinarily, it is inappropriate to substitute for the missed assignment the weighting of a semester's work that does not include the missed assignment. Completion of all assignments assures the greatest chance for students to develop heightened understanding and content mastery that is unavailable through the weighting process. The opportunity to complete all assignments supports the university's desire to enable students to make responsible situational decisions without endangering their academic work.

  4. If the problem is not resolved, the student should contact the sponsoring agency or university department (in some instances, this may be the student's college assistant/associate dean for undergraduate programs or the student's campus academic officer) and provide documentation describing the unresolved make-up opportunity. The sponsoring agency or university department should attempt to resolve the problem.
  5. If the problem is still unresolved, the sponsoring agency or university department should forward the documentation to the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education for resolution.
  6. False claims of legitimate or unavoidable absence may be considered academic integrity violations (Senate Policy 49-20, AAPP G-9).

Note: As of Fall 2002, University Health Services (UHS) no longer provides verification of illness forms for minor illnesses or injuries. Verification will be provided only for serious illnesses for which UHS clinicians provided services, or when UHS has received such documentation from outside providers.

Senate Policy: 42-27, Class Attendance

Procedure: R-4, Religious Observances

Undergraduate Advising Handbook: Class Attendance

September 1998: Taken from the 1997/98 Student Guide to University Policies and Rules
Revised: ACUE (9-5-02)
Revised: ACUE (8-7-08)
Revised: ACUE (6-2-16); Effective Fall 2016

Previous Version of E-11