Students must prove forum attendance in a new way

by Kimberly Kurimski

Professors have to come up with a new idea to take attendance at forum events now that forum cards are only being used for students enrolled in the forum course.

“If you are enrolled in the forum class you still get the card, and they’ll still track it,” said Julie Summers, assistant professor of communication and media studies.

However, students who attend forum events for classes other than the forum course must prove their attendance in other ways.

“The volume of the number of events and students participating is just such that there isn’t enough staffing to follow through on collecting those and tracking them,” Registrar Jody Ragan said.

Because of the limited staffing and large number of students and forum cards being filled out, the registrar’s office has decided to do away with forum cards.

“My understanding is, the resources to collect forum cards and copy the forum cards just spread them (the registrar’s office) too thin,” Summers said.

It took a lot of time for the registrar’s office to complete all of the different aspects of the forum cards. Not only did the registrar’s office need a person at the forum event, but the cards then had to be collected from the students and redistributed to the professors.

The time it took to organize everything for the forum events was growing due to the large amount of students attending the events.

Scanner technology has been brought up multiple times to solve this issue.

However, Simpson isn’t sure this is the route to go at this time.

“I believe that there was some discussion about doing some scanning,” Ragan said. “There are some drawbacks on that, with having somebody that would be able to run the scanners and use the software.”

Having someone to run the scanner would defeat the purpose of having the scanner since the issue is finding the staff to help out with forum events.

Summers gives students in her classes credit for attending forum events.

Even before this change had been made she had her students reflect about their experiences at the forum event on Scholar.

“How I tracked it was I did get the forum cards in most cases, but I didn’t necessarily use that as my tracking device,” Summers said. “My tracking device was their journal on Scholar.”

Having students journal their experiences on Scholar seems to be a positive experience for Summers. She then knows that the student attended the forum event and learned something related to class.

Summers isn’t the only professor doing this.

Brian Steffen, Simpson forum director and professor and chair of communications studies, has created a form to have students fill out about the forum events. He has also passed this form along to the rest of the faculty.

“I kind of adapted it for how I use it in class,” Steffen said. “Basically the same stuff you always fill out on the card other than it’s on a sheet of paper.”

To prove the student went, the form leaves space for the student to reflect about the forum event. This is a chance for the student to tell what he or she learned and how it can be related to class.

At the bottom of the form is a place for the student to sign to show that they are being honest.

“I am using his form because I liked that his form said, ‘If you tell me you went and you didn’t, the academic honesty policy applies.’ Meaning, don’t tell me you went and you didn’t go, because if I find out, this is going to the dean’s office,” Summers said.

One of the few concerns is if faculty will still ask students to attend forum events whether it’s required for the class or for extra credit.

“My point as an instructor is to give students incentives to go to these events, which are for their good, and give them a chance to interact with some interesting, provocative people,” Steffen said. “If it takes me giving them extra credit in classes to go, then it takes me giving them extra credit.”