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Record Attendance in Moodle

Instructors and TAs can use the Attendance activity to record student attendance. Each mark is customized (e.g., Present, Late, Excused, Absent) and is assigned a point value. The aggregate score for each student appears in a single column in the Moodle gradebook. Students can also view their own attendance record and any instructor comments in the Attendance activity itself.

You can add more than one Attendance activity to a Moodle course, which offers you the opportunity to use the module creatively. For example, you could use the activity to track participation in any regularly repeating activity for which students will receive a single grade, such as weekly journal entries that will be graded only on overall participation.

Note: Attendance activities can be set to drop a specified number of the lowest-graded sessions to be excluded from the overall attendance grade for each student. See Part Two: Change Status Sets (below).

Set Up an Attendance Activity

Part One: Add and Configure the Attendance Activity

  1. On your course page, click Turn editing on (green pencil icon , top right ). Editing icons and links will appear.
  2. In the Section where you want to add the Attendance activity (the top section of the course page is recommended as a convenient location), click + Add an activity or resource. The Activity chooser will open.
  3. In the Activity chooser, select Attendance and click Add. The Adding a new Attendance page will open.
  4. Update the Name for the activity (Optional). The default name is set to Attendance. Moodle will use this name on your course page and in the Gradebook.
  5. Use the Grade drop-down menu to set the maximum points the attendance activity will be worth in the Gradebook. The default value is 100.
    Note: For more on grading attendance, see Attendance in the Moodle Gradebook (below).
  6. Click the Common module settings heading to view and adjust any group settings you may want (Optional). For more information on group settings, see Assign an Activity to a Group or Grouping in Moodle.
  7. Click Save and return to course.

Part Two: Change Status Sets

  1. On your course page, click the name of the Attendance activity. The Attendance activity page will open.
  2. Select the Status set tab. The Settings page will open.
  3. The Settings page allows you to set names and point values for attendance grades. The default Status set uses four marking options: Present, Excused, Late, and Absent. You can rename, add, or delete options to fit your own needs.
    Each variable (possible marking option) is assigned an Acronym, a Description and Points.
         •    To change Acronyms, Descriptions, or Points, edit the entries in the fields.
         •    To hide (and not use) a variable, click the Eye icon (eye icon) in the Action column (at right).
         •    To delete a variable, click the Trash bin icon (trash bin) in the Action column (at right).
         •    To create an additional variable, type into the blank fields (at bottom) and click Add.
  4. The Drop the lowest field allows you to choose a specified number of the lowest-graded sessions to be excluded from the overall attendance grade for each student. If you would like to drop sessions, click Choose... and pick the number of sessions from the drop-down menu.
  5. Click Update to save changes.
    Note: The points awarded for each class meeting will be aggregated in the Moodle gradebook as one running percentage for sessions marked to date. If you decide to drop a number of the lowest attendance sessions, the maximum grade displayed in the Attendance Report will be reduced by the value of those sessions. For more on grading attendance, see Attendance in the Moodle Gradebook (below).

Part Three: Create Sessions

The Attendance activity tracks student attendance by recording marks for each session (i.e., lecture, lab, or discussion section meeting). Until you add them, there are no Sessions in which to record attendance. If your class meets more than once a week or has multiple labs or discussions, you can add them all to the same attendance activity. You will be able to add all the sessions for each regular meeting time in one operation.

Note:  If you want to use customized Status set, you need to edit those settings before creating new sessions (see Change Status sets, above). You cannot change the variables available in sessions once they have been created. 

  1. On your course page, click the name of the Attendance page will open activity. The Attendance activity will open.
  2. Click the Add session tab (at top). The Add session page will open.
  3. To add a new session:
    • For Type, select whether this is for All students or Groups of students. If selecting Groups of students, in the Groups field, select the groups you want to include in the attendance activity.  
    • For Date, select the day and time of the first class meeting of the semester.
    • For Time, select the beginning and ending times in hours and minutes.
    • Enter a Description (Optional). This is useful if you have separate lecture and lab or discussion meetings.
  4. To set up reccuring events, under Multiple sessions:
    • Select Repeat the session above as follows
    • For Repeat on, select the days of the week the session should be repeated (multiple selections are allowed). 
    • For Repeat every, select the repeat interval for the session. 
    • For Repeat until, select the last date of sessions you want to create. 
    • For example, if a class meets Tuedays and Thursdays every week for the whole semester, you should select Tuesday and Thursday, repeating every 1 weeks, until the date of the last day of the semester. 
  5. Click Add at the bottom of the page. You will see a message that sessions were successfully generated, and you will be returned to the Session page.
  6. To add additional sessions for other meeting times, repeat Steps 2 through 6. 

Edit Sessions

Once sessions have been added to an attendance activity you can change meeting dates, times, and descriptions from the Sessions tab. For example, this can be useful for deleting or changing the date of a class impacted by holiday scheduling.

  1. On your course page, click the name of the Attendance activity. The Attendance activity will open to the Sessions page. 
  2. On the Sessions page, use the buttons at the top right to view sessions by All, All past, Months, Weeks, or Days. (Initially, the page will open to All, or to the last view used.)
  3. For each session you have created, there is a set of Actions icons (at right):
         • A play button (play button) denotes days for which you have not yet taken attendance (see Record Attendance, below)
         • A green arrow (The change attendance icon - a green back-arrow ) denotes days for which attendance has been taken.  
         • Click the Update icon (Moodle update icon) to update the settings for that particular session.
         • Click the Trash bin icon (trash bin) to delete a session.
  4. To delete or change the meeting times of multiple sessions at once, select the check box after individual sessions (or click the top checkbox to select all sessions). Then, from the Choose... drop-down menu (bottom right), select either Delete or Change duration and click OK.

Record Attendance

  1. On your course page, click the name of the Attendance activity. The Attendance activity page will open to the Sessions page.
  2. On the Sessions page, use the buttons at the top right to view sessions by Day, Weeks, Months, All past or All (initially, the page will open to All, or to the last view used).
  3. Click the play button (play button) to open an unrecorded session, or click the green arrow (The change attendance icon - a green back-arrow ) to edit a session with existing marks. The Attendance page for that session will open.
    Note: If you leave the Sessions page and return, you may need to click All or All past (top right) to see past sessions.
  4. On the Attendance page, click the radio buttons to mark attendance based on the acronyms you established in the Settings tab (see Change Status Sets, above).
    Note: If everyone is present, click the column heading P in the Set status for all users to record the entire class as present. If most students are present, you can save time by doing this to mark everyone present, then going back to change the mark for absent students.
  5. To record notes for particular students, type the comment in the Remarks column.
    Note: Both you and the student for whom you record a message will be able to view remarks.
  6. Once finished, click Save attendance (at bottom) to save your work. You will see a confirmation that Attendance has been successfully taken and then the Sessions page will open again.

View Attendance

Report view (Instructors)
The Report tab in the Attendance activity lets instructors view the attendance for an entire class. If you have a lot of sessions, the display will require you to scroll sideways. You can narrow the range by clicking Months or Weeks (top right) in the Sessions tab.

To review your entire class attendance, especially for a class with a large enrollment, you may find it more convenient to go to the Export tab and download the attendance in Excel, OpenOffice, or text format.

Individual student view (Instructors)
Instructors can view the attendance summary for individual students, including remarks recorded as part of that student's attendance. Simply click a student's name in the Report tab of the attendance activity to display that student's information.

Student view
Students can review their own attendance by clicking the attendance activity link on the Moodle course page. They will see a total count of meetings for which they were present, late, excused, etc. They will also see a list of all class sessions, and any remarks that you have entered regarding their attendance.

Attendance in the Moodle Gradebook

If not set up as recommended below, the Attendance activity may display grades differently from the Gradebook:
The student view within the attendance activity displays the Date, Description, Status, Points and Remakrs (see Change Status Sets, above). However, in the gradebook, this Attendance percent is applied to the maximum point value for the activity to calculate the score awarded to each student.

For example, if a class meets 25 times and attendance is worth 2 points per meeting, the maximum possible Attendance grade (for points awarded per class meeting) would be 50 points. In the attendance activity view, a student with two absences would see an Attendance grade of 46/50 and an Attendance percent of 92% at the end of the semester. However, this student's score in the gradebook would depend on the Grade settings for the attendance activity as a whole (see Add and Configure the Attendance Activity above). Some examples:

  • If Attendance Grade is set to 100 points: The gradebook would show a score of 92, or 92% of the possible 100 grade points for the activity.
  • If Attendance Grade is set to 25 points: The gradebook would show a score of 23, or 92% of the possible 25 grade points for the activity.
  • If Attendance Grade is set to 10 points: The gradebook would show a score of 9.2, or 92% of the possible 10 grade points for the activity.

Make Attendance scores easier for students to understand.

Because grades may display differently in the gradebook and an Attendance activity depending on settings (see above), students who note a difference in values may find it confusing. To give students a more consistent experience, we recommend using one of the following settings:

  • Set the Grade for the attendance activity to 100:
    On your course page, click the name of the Attendance activity. The Attendance activity will open. Click the Actions menu (Actions menu, top right). From the Actions drop-down menu, select Edit settings. The Updating Attendance page will open. In the Grade heading, in the Maximum grade text box, change the maximum grade to 100. Moodle will automatically recalculate the grades earned in the attendance activity as a value out of 100 in the gradebook, and the score students see when they check their Grades will match the Activity percentage they see if they go to the Attendance activity.
  • Set the gradebook to display both Percentage and Real grade for the attendance activity:
    On your course page, from the Navigation tray (on the left), select Grades. The Grader report page will open. On the Grader report page, from the navigation tab (at top), select Gradebook setup and find the Attendance activity from the lists of grade items. From its Edit drop-down menu (at right) in the Attendance activity item, select Edit settings. The Edit grade item page will open. On the Edit grade item page,  under the Grade item heading, click Show more... to see the all the options. From the Grade display type drop-down menu, change from Default (Real) to Percentage (real) or Real (percentage). Scroll down and select Save Changes. With these settings, when students will see both the "Real" score (a number based on the Grade set for the activity) and a "Percentage" that matches the Activity percentage they see if they go to the Attendance activity. 

Explain your Drop the lowest policy to students.

The Drop the lowest feature will drop the lowest value sessions for each student and replace the maximum value of all sessions with the maximum grade value for the attendance minus the maximum value of the dropped sessions. For example: an attendance with each session at a value of 1, with a maximum grade of 11 and Drop the lowest set to "1" will result in a maximum grade of n/10 in the Attendance activity report, and n/11 in the gradebook. While this might cause some confusion for students if they compare the values from their Attendance report and the gradebook, the correct grade percentage is accurately maintained. A 10/10 in the Attendance report (from Drop the lowest set to "1" will result in an 11/11 in the gradebook, or 100%.

For additional assistance, please contact the Instructional Media Lab ( or 413-545-2823).