The Blackboard Attendance Tool

WARNING: If you do not want to use the Blackboard Attendance Tool, or are unsure of whether or not you want to use it, do not click on it in the Course Tools menu. Once you have clicked on it, an Attendance column is automatically generated in the Grade Center and cannot be deleted. Please call LMS Support and Consulting if you are still unsure of whether or not you would like to use it after reading this article.

Contents

Overview
Creating an Attendance Column Step-by-Step
Marking Student Attendance
Managing Class Meetings
What to Do If You Created an Attendance Column By Accident

 

Overview

The Blackboard Attendance Tool is a new feature whereby you can track attendance at class meetings and automatically turn that data into a score in the Grade Center. This tool relies on manual instructor input, rather than having the students mark themselves as present or absent (as in Top Hat), so should only be used if the instructor is prepared to take that on. This attendance data is aggregated on an ongoing basis in a single Grade Center column, updated every time the instructor adds the attendance for a new class meeting. Attendance can be marked as Present, Late, Absent or Excused.

This tool has a limited scope of use and we highly recommend that instructors considering it read this entire article before clicking on the Attendance link found in the Course Tools menu. Clicking on that link even once will create an Attendance column in the Grade Center that cannot be deleted.

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Creating an Attendance Column Step-by-Step

These instructions must be followed carefully and in sequence. Again, the Attendance column you create cannot be deleted, and its ability to be edited is limited. Once you create the column and enter the first set of attendance data, you cannot go back and try again. Read these instructions fully once before setting it up.

  1. In the Course Tools menu, click Attendance.
  2. The first time you enter the Attendance tool, the Settings panel will display on the right. Only two settings can be changed in this area:
    • The percentage of the total score a Late student will receive
    • The grading schema used for the Attendance column (the default is Score)
  3. Click the X next to the Settings heading to close the panel.

Important: The Attendance column in the Grade Center is now set to be worth 100 points. If you want to change this point value, you must do so in the Grade Center before entering any student Attendance data. To change the point value of the Attendance column:

  1. Enter your Full Grade Center by clicking on it in your Course Management menu. (It is okay to leave the Attendance tool at this time, you can return to continue setting it up later.)
  2. Scroll all the way to the end of your Grade Center and find the column called Attendance.
  3. Click on down-arrow to open the menu for the Attendance column, and select Edit Column Information.
  4. Find the Points Possible heading and change the 100 point value to your preferred point value. (It is not recommended that this value be 0, however. If you do not wish to give your students points for attendance, don’t change the Points Possible, but do change the Include this column in Grade Center calculations radio button to No.)
  5. Click the Submit button at the bottom right of the screen.
  6. You can now return to the Attendance Tool by clicking on it in your Course Tools menu.

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Marking Student Attendance

WARNING: Once you start marking student attendance,  you cannot change the point value or grading schema of your Attendance Grade Center column.

When you enter the Attendance Tool, the display will default to today’s class meeting. Students can be marked as Present, Late, Absent, or Excused. Marking can be done in one of two ways:

  1. Students can be marked individually by clicking on one of the icons.

    If you wish to change a student’s mark, you can click on that icon again and it will return the student to an unmarked state.
  2. An entire class can be marked all at once by clicking on the header for the mark that you wish to give all students and selecting Mark all______.

    You can then unmark any students whose status is different from the rest of the class and assign them a different mark, as in step 1.
  3. To clear marks for an entire class, click on the header for Today and select Clear Marks

 

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Managing Class Meetings

When you enter the Attendance Tool, it will default to displaying the marking grid for today’s class meeting. To add a class meeting from a previous date:

  1. Click the Overall button at the top right area of the screen.
  2. Hover over the line dividing the Overall column and the Today column until you see a small plus sign appear. Click that plus sign to insert a new column to the left of the Today column.
  3. This new column will default to Yesterday but you can change the date by clicking the column header and selecting Edit Meeting from the menu. A calendar will appear where you can select a different date.
  4. New class meetings can also be added to the right of the Today column using this method as well.
  5. To delete a class meeting, click the column header for that meeting and select Delete Meeting.

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What to Do If You Created an Attendance Column By Accident

As noted above, if you click on and open the Attendance Tool even once, an Attendance column will be created in the Grade Center, worth 100 points. This column has no Delete option in its menu like other Grade Center columns do. The best thing to do with an accidental Attendance column is to remove it from grading consideration, hide it from students, and hide it from yourself. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Enter your Full Grade Center and find the Attendance column (if you just created it, it will be the last column on the right).
  2. Click on down-arrow to open the menu for the Attendance column, and select Edit Column Information.
  3. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the Edit Column page, to the Options heading.
  4. Change the following settings to No:
    • Include this column in Grade Center calculations
    • Show this column to students
  5. Click Submit at the bottom right.
  6. When you return to the Grade Center, the Attendance column should have an icon that looks like a red slash in the header. This indicates that students will not see this column when they view their grades.
  7. Again click the down-arrow to open the menu for the Attendance column, and this time select Hide from Instructor View (the final option in the menu). The Attendance column will disappear from your Grade Center view.

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