Appendix H

12/5/17

SENATE COMMITTEE ON UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION

Changes to Senate Policy 42-27 Class Attendance

(Legislative)

Implementation: Upon Approval by the Senate and development of procedures when applicable

Rationale

A number of Penn State students are active duty, guard, and reserve service women and men, who during their time as students are called up for duty while enrolled in classes.

The responsibilities of these students are many. In time of national or global crises (such as recent hurricane relief efforts) these individuals are often called to duty without previous notice, leaving them with limited or no time to address these absences with faculty.

The unknown duration of their absences as well as military work schedules and duty demands add a further complication, resulting in students choosing to either withdraw from a course or courses, affecting federal satisfactory academic progress requirements.  For those students using GI Bill benefits, a rushed attempt to complete the course requirements to avoid financial penalties often results in lower or failing grades which can lead to suspension, loss of use of their GI Bill benefits and/ or housing stipends.

Recommendation

The purpose of the proposed changes to the Class Attendance policy are to address short term absences by requiring that students communicate with faculty and, where possible, make arrangements to complete courses, or if necessary, to withdraw from selected courses without financial penalty. The goal is to increase student success through course completion or by eliminating potential financial hardships.

Revised Policy

Please note that the following contains bold text for additions. Added text is notated with [Add] [End Add].

42-27 Class Attendance

Regular class attendance is one of the most important ways that students learn and understand course materials. It is a critical element of student success. Accordingly, it is the policy of the University that class attendance is expected and that students should follow the attendance policy of the instructor, as outlined in the syllabus. A student should attend every scheduled class and should be held responsible for all work covered in the courses taken.

Class attendance is expected regardless of the format of the course and this expectation applies equally to students in face-to-face, online, and hybrid courses. Attendance in online courses goes beyond course login and is based on documentable participation in class activities, such as interacting with the instructor, interacting with enrolled students, completing assignments with specific due dates, and/or participating in online discussions on a regular basis. It is the student’s responsibility to complete work early, or make alternate arrangements with the course instructor, if due dates or required work will be missed because of a University-approved absence as described in this policy.

Instructors should provide, within reason, the opportunity to make up work for students who miss class for regularly scheduled, University-approved curricular and extracurricular activities (such as Martin Luther King Day of Service, field trips, debate trips, choir trips, and athletic contests). In addition, instructors should provide, within reason, the opportunity to make up work for students who miss class for post-graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to re-schedule these opportunities (such as employment and graduate school final interviews.) In both cases, students should inform instructors in advance and discuss the implications of any absence. Missing class, even for a legitimate purpose, may mean that there is work that cannot be made up, hurting the student’s grade in the class. Likewise, students should be prepared to provide documentation for participation in University-approved activities, as well as for career-related interviews, when requested by the instructor.

Instructors also should provide, within reason, the opportunity to make up work for students who miss classes for other legitimate but unavoidable reasons. Legitimate, unavoidable reasons are those such as illness, injury, military service, family emergency, or religious observance. Again, it should be recognized that not all work can be “made-up” and that absences can affect student performance in a class.

[Add] Due to the potential for academic or financial hardship for military members, for those students providing verified orders, a denial of accommodation may be appealed to the Director of Academic Affairs of the campus or the appropriate associate dean of the college (or DUS) in which the student is enrolled. When the student is unable to make arrangements with instructors for unexpected orders requiring a short term absence, or upon denial of an appeal, the Director of Academic Affairs or Associate Dean will notify the Registrar’s Office of the administrative cancellation of the course(s) and 100% of the tuition for the course(s) will be refunded to the student. For orders requiring absences lasting longer than two weeks, students may pursue a military withdrawal directly through the Registrar’s Office. [End Add]

Instructors can determine when irregular attendance negatively affects a student’s scholastic achievement, and thus grade, in the course, even to the point of failure. If class absence constitutes a danger to the student’s scholastic attainment, the instructor should make this fact known to the student. The student may appeal this decision to the head of the department in which the course is offered.

If an evaluative event will be missed due to an unavoidable absence, the student should contact the instructor as soon as the unavoidable absence is known to discuss ways to make up the work. An instructor might not consider an unavoidable absence legitimate if the student does not contact the instructor before the evaluative event. Students will be held responsible for using only legitimate, unavoidable reasons for requesting a make-up in the event of a missed class or evaluative event. (Conflicts with non-final examinations are covered in the Policy 44-35.) Requests for missing class or an evaluative event due to reasons that are based on false claims may be considered violations of the policy on Academic Integrity (Policy 49-20).

SENATE COMMITTEE ON UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION

  • Andrew Ahr
  • Jonna Belanger
  • Gretchen Casper
  • Theodore Cios
  • Delia Conti
  • Joyce A. Furfaro, Vice Chair
  • Yvonne M. Gaudelius
  • David Han
  • Peter Heaney
  • Karen Henninger
  • Vicki Hewitt
  • Peggy Johnson
  • Peter Linehan
  • Karen I. Pollack
  • Vansh Prabhu
  • Janina Safran
  • George Samuel
  • Elizabeth M. Seymour, Chair
  • Keith Shapiro
  • David R. Smith
  • Michele Stine
  • Samia Suliman