On Absenteeism and Due Dates

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, March 4, 2013

Last Friday, I discussed my battles with absenteeism in the classroom.  Not only do students suffer in their performance by missing class, but it creates more work for me in terms of time grading poor answers on exams.

Where absenteeism poses a particular problem beyond just missing class is when assignments are due or exams are scheduled.  Students may have legitimate reasons for being absent; as a result, my policy takes into account three situations:


Homework assignments, exams, or computer work will not be accepted after the dates and times when due except from those persons:

(1)   who must attend a required school-sanctioned event (varsity sports, concert, etc.), and have provided me, one week before the event, with a letter from the instructor, coach, etc., indicating the reason such attendance is required.

(2)   who are too ill to attend class when homework is due, or the exam is scheduled, and notify me within 6 hours of the due date (i.e., no later than 3:00 p.m.).  Further, you have provided me, within one week after the illness, with a letter from an appropriate health care professional describing the illness, and its relevance to not meeting class requirements.

(3)  who have a personal problem or confront an emergency that prohibits them from attending class, contacted me within 6 hours of the emergency (i.e., no later than 3:00 p.m.), and have provided me with a letter from a credible authority, their academic advisor, or from the Dean verifying the personal problem or emergency.

Situations arise during the course of the semester that will cause me to revisit the policy and make changes.  Take this sterling example:
  • A student commutes to class from his/her off-campus home.  On the day an exam is scheduled, he/she e-mails me that his/her car has broken down and he/she will not be able to make it to classPer the policy, I required a note from an appropriate party - in this case, the auto repair shop.  The student provides the note, and I notice the home address of the student on the receipt.  It turns out the student's "commute" was less than a mile from a campus, and he/she could have easily walked to class.
As a result, I may have to consider adding a sentence or two about commuting to campus, including a commuting range, for the next semester.

As always, the policy is a dynamic, not static, instrument, and students will find inventive ways to find loopholes.  Sigh!


One comment

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by tom cruise on March 4, 2013 at 11:21 PM. #

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