Policies You Might Want on Your Syllabus
A collection of ideas from other Penn faculty
Creating an attendance policy helps students know what your expectations are for them attending class. You may also want to detail how you want students to handle absences on mid term, quiz, and exam days as well as days when they need to turn in work.
Penn has no official policy on excused or unexcused abscenes. Many faculty allow students to miss a certain set number of days without question; the instructor does not want to know why or to hear anything about it. Once that number of days have past, they set a grade penalty. Other faculty do not take attendance at all so that students may miss as many classes as they want. Still other faculty require attendance but allow students to be absent in cases where the student is sick or has had a death in the family. In this case, the instructor is the judge of what is excused or not.
However, Penn does not require students who are observing religious and secular holidays to attend class on those days as long as they contact instructors within the first two weeks of class to make arrangements. In addition, instructors are asked not to assign work or schedule exams on religious holidays that affect large numbers of students, including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the first two days of Passover, and Good Friday. Exams scheduled immediately after those holidays should not include material introduced on that day.
Faculty should be aware that the College of Arts and Sciences has created the Course Absence Report System to facilitate communication between instructors and students when a student misses class. The system allows students to inform instructors about absences of five days or less. The College Office and Student Health will no longer provide students with evidence of medical illness or reasons for missing less than 5 days of class.
You may choose to use the CAR system or not. Students are aware of it and will want to know what you expect them to do when they miss class.
SAMPLE ATTENDENCE POLICIES
• Attendance is an important part of your performance in this course. Any absences should be reported through the Course Absence Report system. Students are permitted 5 absences for any reason, after which their grade will be dropped one half grade for each additional absence (i.e. on the fifth absence your grade would be moved from a B+ to a B, after the 6th from a B to B-). There are no “excused absences” –if you miss class, you are responsible for making up any work and for knowing the material covered. The Course Absence Report system should not be used for days on which exams are scheduled as you will need to make other arrangements for completing the exam.
• Attendance is required in this course. Students are permitted to miss class for legitimate medical reasons only (sickness on the day of class). Excessive or unexplained absences may result in a reduction in your course participation grade. There are no “excused absences” – if you miss class, you are you are responsible for making up any work and for knowing the material covered.
• Regular attendance is expected. Failure to attend may affect your final grade. Please speak to me directly about absences. The Course Absence Report system will
not be used for this course.
• I will not take attendance for this class but students who regularly fail to attend class will find that they have trouble keeping up with the lectures they do attend and with the homework. I strongly suggest that you make class as often as you can as that will improve your grade and allow you to work more efficiently on the course materials.