Roll Call, the attendance-tracking tool within Canvas, is unable to track attendance across multiple sections within a Canvas course shell. Large courses may be impacted.
How Roll Call works
- An instructor can open Roll Call every day that class is held.
- Roll Call creates a new attendance page for that day.
- The instructor can mark every student as "Present", "Absent", or "Late".
- If desired, the instructor can use this attendance as a point-generating assignment in the course.
- Roll Call manages the math: x-number "Present" markings vs. x-number "Absent" markings gives an attendance score.
Multiple Section Issue:
Many UW-Madison courses possess a lecture-discussion, or lecture-lab structure. That is, all students meet in one large lecture one or two times a week. Then, those students are distributed across several smaller-enrollment discussion groups or lab groups that meet throughout the week.
In Canvas, this structure is replicated by using multiple sections. Every student is enrolled in both the one large lecture section, and one of the smaller discussion or lab sections.
Roll Call unfortunately is not designed to track attendance across these sections. Technically, the tool will allow instructors and TAs to track attendance throughout the week. It will track a student's attendance at the lectures. And, it will track a student's attendance at the discussions or labs. However, it will not generate a cumulative attendance score across both sections.
This causes confusion in the Gradebook. The Canvas Gradebook will present the attendance score of whichever section was most-recently updated: either the lecture attendance, or the discussion/lab attendance. In large courses, this is seldom what the instructor wants.
At this time, there is no work around, nor are there any approved alternative attendance-tracking tools.