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Canvas - How do I use the attendance feature?

Canvas has a built-in attendance feature that instructors can choose to add to their Canvas course. To add Roll Call Attendance to your Canvas course:In Course Navigation, click the Settings link. Click the Navigation tab. Click the Roll Call Attendance link and drag to the top section of available course links. Click the save button at the bottom. When you activate Roll Call Attendance and take roll for the first time, an assignment named “Roll Call Attendance” worth 100 points will automatically be created and displayed in the grade area.To avoid Attendance calculation errors, never delete, rename, or unpublish the Roll Call Attendance assignment.

NOTE: There are reported technical difficulties in changing the point value of the Roll Call Attendance assignment. We discourage changing point values if the course has already begun.

If you plan to utilize the Attendance (Roll Call) feature, please (1) review existing Canvas documentation on Attendance (Roll Call) as the tips in this document are supplemental, and (2) read through the following tips prior to the start of the course.

Activate Attendance in your Canvas course

Within the Navigation tab of the course Settings, activate Attendance by dragging it from the hidden features in Canvas to the active features. Then click Save at the bottom of the page.

adding to navigation

Use Attendance (Roll Call) as part of your course grade

When you activate Attendance (Roll Call) and take roll for the first time, an assignment named “Roll Call Attendance” worth 100 points will automatically be created and displayed in the grade area. NOTE: There are reported technical difficulties in changing this point value.

If you wish to use a points-based grading system and want to adjust the points for the generated Roll Call Attendance assignment to be other than the Canvas default of 100 points, the following steps must be done before the term starts and prior to the course being published in Canvas.

  1. Select Attendance from the side Navigation menu. In the upper corner of the Roll Call window select any date before the term has started. Then mark all students as present. Next go to Grades and verify that the Roll Call Attendance assignment now shows up as a column. Roll Call Attendance in the gradebook will always display as a current percentage, so at this point all students should show a score of 100%.

    marking as present

  2. Go to Assignments. Roll Call Attendance will now be listed as an assignment worth 100 points. This assignment can be moved to any assignment group but should not be removed or renamed. To change the point value on the Roll Call Attendance assignment, you can edit the assignment and enter the point value you would like for the total amount that Roll Call Attendance is worth for the entire term. Here it has been adjusted to be worth 280 points.

    editing points

  3. Go back to Attendance from the side Navigation menu and again select the date used in Step 1. Unmark All to remove the attendance for all students. The Attendance (Roll Call) tool is now ready to use beginning at the start of the term. The total will be out of 280 for the entire duration of the term. This tool will display as a percentage and not, for example, assign 10 points per day. This means if a student misses one of the first two days of class, they would have a 50% out of 280 points at that point of the term. The percentage a student has for Roll Call Attendance will update each day attendance is taken.

Using Attendance (Roll Call) but not having it count towards the grade

Roll Call Attendance will automatically be created as an Assignment once you enable it and mark a student’s attendance. This assignment cannot be deleted because it will repopulate in Canvas each time attendance is taken. If an instructor would like to use Attendance (Roll Call) but does not want it graded, simply change it to not count toward the final grade, instead of having a point value of 0. This can be done by editing the Roll Call Attendance assignment and checking the box next to “Do not count this assignment towards the final grade”.

Note: Once you have changed the assignment type, you cannot change it back to a graded assignment. Please ensure you do not want to grade Attendance before changing the assignment type.

check box do not count

Combined sections

If your Canvas course has multiple sections combined, the sections will appear separately in the Attendance (Roll Call) feature. The drop down in the upper left corner will show the different sections. Instructors will need to mark attendance for each section.

separating sections


Tips & Tricks

  • Create a weighted grade category for the Roll Call Attendance assignment to allow the point value to stay at 100 but the weight as any desired percentage of the final grade. Instructions for weighting grades based on assignments groups are given here
24/7/365 Canvas Support is available through the help icon in Canvas, by calling the phone support for faculty, staff and students or email us directly at

Keywordsroll call, participation, absent, present, excuse   Doc ID105075
OwnerStephanie S.GroupUW-La Crosse
Created2020-08-19 08:46 CDTUpdated2022-01-04 13:00 CDT
SitesUW Platteville, UW-La Crosse
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