Use of Attendance Tracking

Hey CD,

My team was exploring the use of an attendance tracker for upcoming seasons and we were wondering what teams used them for. We could think of the obvious reasons of tracking student hours but couldn’t that just be done with a google form or a sign out sheet. Has your team used attendance tracking for other purposes?

Thanks,
James

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Without getting too techy tracking who is at a meeting is best done simply with the sheets or a google form as shared, a few options are to ask students to fill out a form beforehand and track how many hours a student is sharing to show up and can be adjusted if they stay late and such. A few things to do with the data is to help know where your time is going on the team, if you track by subteam you can grow as a team knowing where maybe too much time is being spent on a certain project in the scope of your team’s goals. It’s also fun to know how many hours of in-person time was spent on your robot, this can also help with knowing how many meetings you want to plan in the future after knowing how competitive your team is with the schedule your running now

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We use it mostly for outreach. Its great to show the distrcit and sponsors how much work we put into the program and hopefully get us more support. It’s also useful for metors/team leaders to determine who should be on travel team as it can be an (albeit rough) indicator. Google forms would work fine, but we didn’t have internet so it didn’t work for us. We had our programming team make a custom app which aggregates all the data, so we always scan our nametags to clock in and out and it keeps track of everyone.

We are imposing a 30 hour minimum to prevent students from just showing up the competition after doing no work, and a 50 hour (I think) minimum for travel competitions.

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My team uses a fingerprint scanner time clock. students scan in and out of meetings and if you fall below a certain number you don’t get excused from school for competition.

Hey James,

6328 has done some incredible things (all worth looking at), and at Spectrum, we use AdvantageTrack. I personally highly recommend it.

in a nutshell:

AdvantageTrack is an attendance system built to combine a manual sign-in interface with automated tracking of student and mentor devices. Data storage and analysis are handled using Google Sheets, updated by the local Python server. The server runs a local web app for sign-ins & status, and it monitors the active devices on the local network using intermitent flood pings. Each team member can opt-in to the automatic tracking by registering their device’s MAC address with the system.

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TLDR: used for discipline and tracking contribution to the team, as well as grades for the robotics class and varsity letter eligibility

Our school allows students to earn a varsity letter for being on the robotics team. We track attendance to track student’s progress on their “points” (number of practices) they have accumulated in order to letter. The attendance for every practice is done by each sub-team lead who submits a google form to one of our mentors who will track attendance weekly.

Our team, along with being an after school club meeting, is a class. It is mandatory for people that take the robotics class to attend a certain amount of practices in a week before their grade in the class starts to go down. People who can’t take the class (scheduling conflict, AP overload, or other elective) can still be on the team, but are encouraged not to come to competition if the minimum amount of weekly practices is egregiously disregarded.

It sounds harsh, and most of the time when people miss more practice than expected there is a valid reason for it and they are usually excused if its just one or two here or there. There have only been a couple instances of people stepping outside the lines, and it is usually set straight by a talking to from a team lead or mentor, if it isn’t solved they are free to explore other academic or athletic teams.

We use https://www.mytimestation.com/ for tracking. The data is used to support conversations about what is often obvious regarding who is showing up. Any student is welcome to attend local competitions, but the team is only takes the students to are engaged and contributing to competitions requiring overnight stays.

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We are in the process of implementing a badging system, in which both students and mentors have badges with QR codes that will scanned with a phone for checking in and out. This is only tangentially for attendance; primarily it will be for security enhancements and identification. When we are done setting this up we will share this with the community so anyone else who wants can do it as well.

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For us we use a custom app that reads the student ID using a camera on a laptop that we setup before every meeting. It uses the logo of our school that’s on the ID as a fiducial to locate the student ID numbers and uses OCR to read that. A barcode reader would’ve probably worked just fine and been less complicated though… on the upside it was fun-ish to make.

The data was used for the required contact tracing stuff last year/two years ago in our school and used currently for deciding out of state event personnel lists.

We have a pretty sweet time tracking/project tracking system.

The main use is to keep track of time, give out awards/swag based on hours. Since we are closely tied to the school, we also use it for attendance and tracking for the school. We need to make sure we know where students are at all time and this helps with that. We’ve never had to use it for that reason, but it’s there in case we need it

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I’m surprised how many teams here actually use a clocking system that, in particular, relies on physical presence to record hours.
From personal experience, there are a ton of students who provide “quality over quantity” in regards to in-person hours during meetings. Being physically present only had a minor impact on their contribution to the team.
Also, a lot of students, particularly those coding, strategy planning, research, working on training or promotional/outreach materials, or doing computer-based design work are contributing time outside their physical presence. Does this get properly logged in your system if they are otherwise required to “badge in”/fingerprint scan-in or detect cell phone proximity (AdvantageTrack)?

Suffice to say, in all the teams I’ve mentored I’ve NEVER relied on hours accumulated as a metric to determine student involvement or contribution. I evaluate the individual students’ impacts qualitatively – did they present a lot of ideas, make meaningful contributions to the design, participate and organize a lot of outreach/fundraising, did they train other students and prepare materials for such? Or at the very least, did they demonstrate an enthusiasm for learning? These traits all contribute to overall participation.

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Bit different needs here at 1884, but I will chip in with our situation. As we have to travel internationally to compete, usually to places that are 5 or more hours away, attendance and quality of work play a large impact on who gets to go. We have a tracking system that uses school ID cards to track clock-ins and clock-outs, but that is combined with qualitative observations alongside other factors to actually determine anything. Work done outside of sessions also gets noted down and used to make decisions. Attendance isn’t the end all be all for us, but it is just another datapoint.

We’ve used sheets but made time period collection easier with a custom app and RPi with scanner. Each student has a barcode tag stored near the scanner.

Time is used for the obvious reasons - encourage activities that consume time (meetings, sponsor solicitations, community activities), define minimum requirement for attending matches as a team member (use of team transportation and getting out of school) and minimum for varsity letter award.

Note that there was a recent thread similar to this and it discussed the pitfalls of using biometric data for a time-track system. (Sheets work; starting small is fine.)

Simple is good.

For all the possible methods here, the short answer is we purposefully want to make it as easy as possible for students to record their attendance, so they have no excuse not to. IE, “Forgot my phone” or “forgot my password” or “in a rush” shouldn’t be used as excuses.

This is critical because:

From our team handbook:

image

All other things being equal, attendance drives travel eligibility. While there’s plenty of wiggle room, and while mentors usually know anyway who’s been showing up and who’s just never around… the attendance system is the written record we fall back on if students get “uppity” over travel eligibility decisions.

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I know this is tangential to the topic but differences is team culture/requirements are very interesting to me. Your full time student requirement is actually higher than our Drive Team/Pit crew requirement and much higher than our standard attendance requirement:

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Yup.

So our number is driven by student request actually. It’s the threshold at which, assuming you weren’t completely goofing off while present, you can reasonably expect the team will cover your costs to go to competition.

Practically speaking, lots of students work out a “less attendance” schedule and still travel. But if students ask “what should I be shooting for?” I say 80%.

Given you could participate in a full offseason, build season, and one competition for $0 out of pocket, we push hard for students to make the time commitment.

I’ll start of by admitting our current solution is anything but high-tech. We have two distinct needs, so we actually have two separate systems.

(1) Because we are guests at the University where we work, we have several physically distinct work locations, and it is a 4H requirement (and a darn good idea) that we know where every student is, so everyone signs in (and later out), on paper, and they include the location where they are going to be working. So, in case of some sort of evacuation, a mentor can grab this sheet and know who was where, so we can do attendance at our outside “rally point” (Ok, it’s just a tree).

(2) As for keeping track of hours worked, students just edit a google sheet, which is double-checked by team leadership. We expect at least 70 hours between kickoff and our 1st regional (ie avg about 10hrs/week). Our most dedicated students put in twice that or a bit more (you stop earning additional points towards your robotics letter at 100 hours).

In theory this could be used for travel/not-travel decisions, but I’m unaware of that actually happening in my time on the team (we have an “associate” membership category for those who can’t make the time commitment, so they’re already sort of self-selected out).

[EDIT: added this section]

We make it quite clear from the outset that if you are not meaningfully contributing, we will send you home. And we say don’t take it personally, there just may not be enough work currently available for the number of people present. This has an affect of getting most people to work right away, and proactively asking what else there is to do when they have finished a task.

This is where the difference comes from. We cover meals at the competitions but nothing else so students cover their own hotel and travel expenses.

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