First-Year Writing Program

Attendance

Regular attendance in your writing class is vital to your growth as a writer. Regular attendance equals success. You should, therefore, strive to attend every class meeting. It is in class, after all, that you will learn the habits of good writers, as you will have ample opportunities for conversation, collaboration, questioning, revising, writing, etc.

Occasionally, however, you may have to miss class. The First-year Writing Program Attendance Policy makes reasonable allowances for such absences. Please review the following information carefully:

• You should not miss more than six class meetings for classes meeting three times a week, or four class meetings for classes meeting twice a week. You are considered absent any time you are not in class-no matter what the reason.
• If you miss more classes, you will receive a course grade of NC (“No Credit”) for excessive absences. Your instructor is required to assign this grade, except in rare cases warranting a policy waiver. However, you may appeal an attendance-related NC grade to the Director of First-year Writing after grades have been submitted.

What You Can Make Up 

• Making up missed work does not erase absences. Again, you should strive to attend every class meeting.
• You may make up major-grade work (such as papers or tests) if class was missed due to legitimate circumstances beyond your control (i.e., documented illness or medical emergency; a family funeral; activities at which you officially represent the University of Alabama). If such circumstances should arise, please promptly communicate them to and document them for your instructor.
• You may make up major-grade work missed due to absences for other reasons only with the consent of your instructor.
• You may arrange to turn in major-grade work in advance or online only if allowed by your instructor.

What You Can’t Make Up

• Class discussions, group work, in-class writing, or other daily class work in a writing class cannot be reconstructed. Therefore, daily work missed due to absence or tardiness cannot be made up. Missed daily class work will have a negative impact on your grade!

  • See Tardies for important guidelines.
  • Do not mark students absent because of inattention, cell phone use, sleeping, etc. Only mark students absent if they are physically not there.
  • The NC policy applies to students who miss MORE than SIX MWF meetings or MORE than FOUR TR or MW meetings.
  • See also, Summer Attendance Policy
  • This is a GENEROUS attendance policy. Because of this, it is important that you enforce the rule that missed daily work cannot be made up. The appeals process is complicated when a student has missed numerous classes but still has a high grade in the class.

If a conscientious student contacts you in advance about an upcoming absence, you may make arrangements with that student to turn in work in advance or by e-mail, if you like; otherwise, students who are absent or tardy should receive zeros for all missed daily work.

Major-grade work may only be made up when a student’s absence is for reasons beyond his or her control (car accident, hospitalization, death in family, documented illness, etc.). Work should be made up within a reasonable time frame (usually up to about a week late, depending on the circumstances). It is advisable to form a specific (and, perhaps, written) plan with the student for getting allowable make-up work done in a timely fashion. If you ask a student to provide documentation for medical emergencies or illness, be sure that you do NOT ask about the diagnosis. The diagnosis is confidential medical information and should not be requested. It is fine to verify when the student was seen by a doctor and when the student is able to return to class, but you must avoid requesting confidential information.

How to deal with students who are approaching the absence threshold: Consider giving students a grade and absence update (either on paper or by Blackboard Learn email) at mid-term. You might also consider sending them a friendly Blackboard-email reminder of the attendance policy and their absences when they approach the absence limit.

When students reach the absence threshold, please do not tell them to stop attending your class. At orientation, incoming students are told not to withdraw from or stop attending EN 101 or 102 even if they cannot pass the class. There are several reasons:

  1. the class is ABC-NC and it does not affect GPA if they make an NC;
  2. they are encouraged to continue attending, even if not passing, so that they are better prepared for their next attempt;
  3. they have to pay a fee for withdrawing so it’s cheaper if they remain on the course roster and get the NC; and
  4. withdrawing might put them below 12 hours, which might have loan and insurance implications.

Also see Waivers and Appeals


When asking for verification of a medical absence, do not ask students to document a diagnosis. The diagnosis is confidential medical information and should not be requested. It is fine to verify when the student was seen by a doctor and when the student is able to return to class, but we need to avoid requesting confidential information.

The attendance policy does not allow for the creation of formulas in which a certain number of tardies equals as absence. Tardies, leaving class early, sleeping, etc. cannot be counted as absences.  Sleeping or tardy students should not be allowed to make up work missed during their naps or absence and should receive zeros on missed work, which will affect their daily grade. Ideally, they will respond by staying awake and arriving on time or suffer the consequences.

Please also do not devise mathematical formulas where missing a specified percentage of a class meeting equals an absence.

Instead, take roll at the beginning of every class meeting. If students are not there, mark them absent. If students arrives late and make you aware that they are there, they should be marked tardy, not absent.

If tardies become a problem, talk with the offending students as soon as possible and make them aware that tardiness is unacceptable.

You might also plan to take up homework or to give quick class work assignments to be due within the first few minutes of class. A student who is not there to turn in homework when you take it up or to do the class assignment should receive zeros on this work.

3 absences allowed maximum. A grade of NC should be assigned after 3 absences.

The reasoning for the policy is that six hours of summer class = two weeks of class in a regular semester.


A student who is deployed or called to active military duty during the semester needs to send a copy of his/her deployment orders (either mail a photocopy or e-mail a pdf) to the Registrar’s office (registrar@ua.edu). The student also needs to give them instructions on what she or he would like to do regarding the course. The options are in the Undergraduate catalog the student registered under (catalogs.ua.edu or page 21). The section is called “Withdrawal when called to active military duty.” The student should also be advised not to miss classes unnecessarily before the deployment and to stay current with coursework before the deployment.

According to University policy, students should be given the opportunity to make up major work missed due to legitimate circumstances beyond the students’ control (such as documented participation in athletic events, documented participation in other university-sanctioned events like conferences, or religious holidays). Methods for making up missed assignments should be the same from student to student within the same course.

Communicate to your students a clear and reasonable plan for making up their missed course work. For instance, students might be able to turn in some daily assignments early or by e-mail. Major-grade work (graded papers and tests) should be made up as soon as reasonably possible (generally within a week of the original due date, if possible).

Typically you should receive documentation from student athletes and students officially participating in UA club teams, along with their participation schedule, early in the semester. The attendance policy applies to athletes, as to any other student. They should not miss more than the allowed number of classes. However, sometimes official participation does occasionally require that they miss one or two extra classes. If an athlete will miss several classes because of participation in their sport, please encourage them NOT to miss class for other reasons. Also, please contact the FWP director EARLY in the semester if it appears that a student will miss a large number of classes due to athletic activities. The first-year writing program works with the Athletic Academics office on a case-by-case to find a reasonable plan for these athletes.

You can find a list of official UA athletic programs at RollTide.com ( i.e., football, baseball, softball, basketball, etc.). Students officially participating in sport clubs and intramural teams (who do travel and sometimes compete nationally) should be afforded the same consideration as student athletes who participate in official athletic programs. The attendance policy applies to all of them.

Likewise, students who are excused to attend conferences or honors programs should also supply you with an official letter documenting their participation and should be allowed to make up major-grade work, as explained in the attendance policy.


There is no formal policy governing student absences for religious occurrences. We expect faculty members to be respectful and accommodating of people’s beliefs. Students, in turn, have the responsibility to work with faculty members well in advance, when they must miss class, for a religious holiday or any other reason. As with any absence, students are expected to make up work or compensate for missed class time in another fashion determined by the faculty member.  Instructors should make their expectations clear to students who miss class for any approved reason. It is helpful to include these expectations in the course syllabus.

Waivers

If a student has missed only 1 or 2 classes over the limit because of legitimate circumstances beyond their control, AND if you are willing to intercede on their behalf, then you may contact the FWP director by e-mail about two weeks before the end of the semester. Explain the situation and ask if an attendance policy waiver can be granted. The director will reply by e-mail and usually grants such requests made by instructors.

Appeals
Otherwise, give students who miss over the allowed absences an NC and let them appeal to the FWP director after the end of the semester, if they wish. The director will contact you to supply attendance information from your grade book if an appeal request is received from one of your students.