Faculty determine course attendance policies. Because attendance may be integral to the pedagogic process, these policies are set by faculty at the college, departmental, or individual level.
In some cases, attendance is fundamental to course objectives; for example, students may be required to interact with other in the class, to demonstrate the ability to think and argue critically, or to participate in group projects. In other instances, faculty may determine that students can master course content despite some or many absences. Rarely, faculty may decide that students do not need to attend classes at all.
Similarly, faculty also determine policies regarding make-up work and missed quizzes and exams. Faculty are not required to lower or affect substantial modifications of standards for accommodation purposes. The United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights which enforces disability law in higher education, has provided the following guidance questions to be used when determining if attendance is essential to a course participation:
- Are there regular classroom interactions between the instructor and students and among students?
- Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
- Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon 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 is the method by which the final course grade is calculated?
- What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance and are they noted in the course syllabus?
What Disability Services Can Do for Students
DS can provide students with written disability verification memos, based on appropriate medical and/or psychological documentation. DS carefully screens which students receive these memos. The memos address the potential impact of the student’s medical condition and/or disability. For face to face classes, these verification memos are given to the student, who is then responsible for giving them to each instructor and for initiating discussion about attendance and related issues. For online courses, the DS office emails memos to the professor and copies the student. Faculty should make their policies clear so that students can make informed choices about which courses to take.