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Flexible Attendance and Deadlines

When is attendance essential?

Consider the following.

  • Do students interact with each other and with the instructor?
  • Do student contributions in class constitute a significant component of the learning process?
  • Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method for learning?
  • To what degree does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
  • What do the course description and syllabus say?
  • What method is used to calculate the final grade?
  • What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?

When are deadlines essential?

Consider the following.

  • To what degree does a student’s failure to submit work timely constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
  • Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on meeting deadlines as an essential component for learning?
  • What do the course description and syllabus say?
  • What method is used to calculate the final grade?
  • What are the classroom practices and policies regarding deadlines?
Process
  • The Disability Center determines whether the accommodation(s) are reasonable. We explain to students that this does not mean that they can miss as many classes as they want or that they never have to submit work by the established deadline. Also, students are responsible for completing all course work. Finally, we explain that students are responsible for discussing their accommodation(s) with their instructors.
  • Students are responsible for initiating the conversation about their accommodations early in the semester. Accommodations cannot be provided without discussion between instructors and students. In the event students register late in the semester or delay in delivering their accommodation memos, their instructors are not expected to provide any retroactive accommodations. This information may nonetheless prove useful, even late in the semester.
  • Instructors should assess the impact of attendance and deadlines on the class and determine what accommodations can be made. Flexible attendance and deadlines are not necessarily appropriate for classes in which student learning is assessed in the classroom or where absences place undue burdens on instructors. Instructors and students can use the discussion points at the end of this guide to address all aspects of courses, including how to accommodate attendance and deadlines when students miss homework, projects, papers or exams. Instructors and students also should discuss instructors’ expectations in the event students miss classes or deadlines. Successful implementation of these accommodations requires instructors to be very clear about their expectations.
  • We are available to provide support for instructors and students regarding these accommodations. Feel free to contact the Disability Center at any point in the process.
Students’ responsibilities
  • Students should initiate a conversation about accommodations with their instructors early in the semester. Students should understand that not all classes are can offer flexible attendance or deadlines. Students cannot simply hand their memos to their instructor and expect to receive accommodations.
  • Students are required to complete all course work. In the event students miss class or realize they will not be able to meet a deadline, they should notify their instructors immediately. The accommodation of flexible attendance does not mean that students will automatically receive extensions for work that is due on days they are absent. Students should make every attempt to submit their work via email. If students are not be able to submit assignments, or if they miss quizzes or exams, they are responsible for contacting their instructors to ask to be allowed to make up the work. If students miss deadlines, they are responsible for contacting their instructors to request extensions.
  • Students must inform the Disability Center access adviser or coordinator if they are missing classes or deadlines. The Disability Center will not contact instructors on behalf of students.
Instructors’ responsibilities
  • Instructors should make time to discuss accommodations with students.
  • Instructors should determine how essential attendance and deadlines are to their courses.
  • Instructors should be very clear when communicating expectations to students. To this end, the discussion points at the end of this guide may be helpful. Instructors may contact the Disability Center for assistance with these discussions.
  • In the event student absences become excessive, instructors should first address the student directly. Afterwards, instructors are welcome to contact the Disability Center with concerns.
The Disability Center’s responsibilities
  • The Disability Center will approve accommodations of flexible attendance or deadlines only when appropriate.
  • The Disability Center will provide students with guidelines and information about their rights and responsibilities.
  • The Disability Center will assist instructors in determining how to implement these accommodation in their classes.
  • The Disability Center will provide students and instructors with support if questions or difficulties arise due to these accommodations.
Scenarios

Consider these scenarios and whether the solutions provided would be suitable for your classes.

An instructor allows three absences. Upon the fourth absence, students’ grades drop by a letter.
Solution: The instructor permits a student with an accommodation for flexible attendance six absences and 24 hours to make up any work missed.

A foreign language course does not allow flexibility regarding attendance, as learning depends on classroom interactions.
Solution: A student is hospitalized and cannot complete a presentation. The instructor allows the student to make up the presentation.

An instructor gives clicker points for attendance.
Solution: The instructor allows a student with an accommodation for flexible attendance to respond to questions via email. However, the student must contact the instructor and answer questions within 24 hours of class.

An instructor agrees that a student with an accommodation for flexible attendance is permitted to miss class more often than classmates as long as all of the work is completed. However, it is nearing the end of the semester and student has not turned in assignments, has not been in contact with the instructor, and has not attended class.
Solution: In this case, the instructor would not be expected to extend deadlines as student has not taken responsibility for maintaining communication and is not completing course work.

Discussion

These discussion points can serve as a resource for instructors and students in outlining how classroom attendance, exams and quizzes, assignment due dates, and instructor notification are to be handled in the event of absences or missed deadlines.

Classroom attendance

Is there an attendance policy? Is there room for flexibility? Are there a maximum number of absences allowed?

Exams and quizzes

Will students be allowed make-ups? Is there a timeframe within which make-ups must be completed?

Assignment deadlines

Can students submit work electronically? Are students allowed flexibility if they are absent when an assignment is due? How much is appropriate? Consider potential pitfalls in extending deadlines if extension is given throughout the semester.

Instructor notification

Do students need to notify instructors in advance of absences or missed deadlines? How do instructors prefer to be notified?