Faculty Information on Reporting Absences

The goal of Pathfinders is to increase academic performance, retention and graduation by emphasizing the importance of regular class attendance. Pathfinders has been remarkably effective in reaching these goals. Prior to Pathfinders and the University’s commitment to increasing regular class attendance, the six-year graduation rate at MSU was 50%. Since the Pathfinders Program has been in place, the average six-year graduation rate has been 60%. This change occurred despite the freshman ACT average remaining between 23.1 and 23.9 from 1996 until 2014. Freshman ACTs and high school core GPAs have risen in recent years at MSU, however, regular class attendance is still crucial to success.

Pathfinders aim IS NOT to catch students missing classes; however, the best early indicator of freshmen with academic problems is missed classes. We use this indicator to help students. If we can intervene early in the semester with freshmen having difficulties, we can help many of them get on track. Our contact with students is intended as a “wake-up call”. The contact is “face-to-face” in their residence hall room by Residence Hall Assistants. We emphasize the need for self-motivation and personal responsibility in a college environment that is vastly different from high school. We do not function as “attendance police”. With the help of Residence Hall Academic Assistants, we will make personal contact with the students you report. In a positive manner we will make three points to students:

• Attending class regularly is virtually essential for freshmen academic success.
• A freshman missing classes is often an indicator of academic difficulties or other problems.
• Please talk to your instructor if you are having any academic problems.

Although there are a variety of other programs to assist freshmen, Pathfinders is the only program that relies on “face-to-face” contact with students. We believe that this personal contact is a major reason the program has been successful.

The usual procedure for reporting absences will be of use only for classes in which all students are supposed to attend all classes. For any classes not meeting this standard, the usual system of reporting absences in Banner will not work due to scanners not differentiating between an absence and a day which the student was taught online. The main tool that Pathfinders will use to identify freshmen who are at risk will be Canvas. What we need from teachers is a weekly quiz or other assignment so we can utilize Canvas to determine what freshmen are not engaging in class. As stated by the Provost’s office, these quizzes, assignments, etc. need not be elaborate nor time consuming. They are intended to be a sign of student engagement. For teachers who have classes in which all students are supposed to attend all classes, we ask that you continue to report absences as usual in Banner. We ask that you update your absence reports often. Pathfinders staff will be using the same face-to-face intervention (with masks) in the residence halls.

Procedure for Recording Absences in Banner:

1. Log on to Banner with NetID and Net Password.
2. Click on “Banner” from the alternatives of Main, Campus, Classroom, Office, and Banner.
3. Under Grades and Absences, click on Absence Reporting.
4. Enter subject, course number, and section number.
5. Update absences on your class roster (boxes should display cumulative absences).

With the absence reporting link in Banner you can either manually input absences or copy and paste absences from a delimited file. If you have made a mistake you can copy and paste the information again or manually make changes to the number of absences.

If you are teaching in a classroom with scanners, daily reporting to Banner is automatic once the scanner is activated at the beginning of the semester. It is essential you and your students understand that once scanners, once activated, will scan each meeting for the entire semester. You must tell students to make certain that they scan their ID at each meeting or they will be counted absent. A green light always indicates a successful scan. When students or instructors do not understand how the scanners operate, excessive false absence reporting will occur and freshmen will be contacted about classes they have not missed.

If you have questions or are having problems with scanners, please contact the ITS Service Desk (325-0631).