VCU RAM Attend
Ram Attend Pilot results
Student success remains at the heart of VCU's mission. And one of the best indicators of student success is regular class attendance. RAM Attend was piloted in three courses (UNIV 111, UNIV 112, UNIV 200) in fall 2019 to determine its feasibility as an automated Wi-Fi connectivity-based attendance recording tool.
The RAM Attend Pilot is now complete. As a result of the pilot, we have concluded that automated Wi-Fi connectivity-based attendance recording is not the best tool for VCU at this time.
The conversation, however, should not stop there. We will continue to pursue strategies aimed at supporting student success and we hope that you will join us in that pursuit. A series of listening sessions with the VCU community are being planned for later this spring to garner input on additional strategies for engaging students and faculty in the process of student success.
In fall 2019, VCU piloted RAM Attend, an automated Wi-Fi connectivity-based attendance recording tool, in three courses — UNIV 111, UNIV 112 and UNIV 200.
In each of these three courses, the instructors already record attendance manually. As part of the pilot, these manual attendance records were compared with participating students’ Wi-Fi connectivity at the time and location of the participating course in which that student was enrolled.
Students in these courses were given the opportunity to opt-out of having their fall 2019 Wi-Fi connectivity data analyzed as part of the pilot. The Wi-Fi connectivity data for those students who remained in the pilot was analyzed in early spring 2020.
- Through this pilot, VCU learned that approximately 15% of participating students did not regularly connect to the VCU SafeNet Wi-Fi network.
- Attendance for courses with small enrollment, high opt-out rates, and class sessions that occurred outside of the classroom did not yield Wi-Fi connectivity data that could be used to inform our understanding of classroom attendance.
- Campus stakeholders, including students and faculty, offered feedback that encourages the administration to explore alternative methods of capturing and promoting both class attendance and student-faculty engagement.
- As a result of the pilot, VCU has concluded that automated Wi-Fi connectivity-based attendance recording is not the best tool for VCU at this time.
In the fall 2019 pilot, students enrolled in any of the three courses involved (UNIV 111, UNIV 112 and UNIV 200) were given a link to easily opt-out of having their Wi-Fi connectivity data analyzed.
Of the 4,047 students enrolled in the three courses in the pilot, 2,414 chose to opt out. The Wi-Fi connectivity data for the remaining 1,633 students enrolled in those courses in fall 2019 was included in the pilot.
While VCU did not move forward with the piloted tool, valuable insight was gained. Student success remains at the heart of VCU’s mission. We want to continue a campus discussion on student success, the behaviors that contribute to student success, how to deploy university support services to assist students when needed, and to identify useful ways that technology can be a resource to promote engagement.
The pilot raised an important conversation around the balance of promoting student success and engagement while maintaining transparency and privacy. Listening sessions are being planned for later this spring to explore these issues.
To see previously reported updates and frequently asked questions about VCU Ram Attend, please visit the VCU Ram Attend archive page.