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Academic Participation


The U.S. Department of Education requires students to attend or participate in classes in order to be eligible for federal student aid. Ohio University assumes that any passing grade indicates academic participation in the class.

When a student officially withdraws from a class, a Withdrawal (W) grade is assigned automatically. Effective Fall Semester 2017-18, all W grades will require the instructor to add the passing (P) or failing (F) indicator and a date of last participation; or the never attended (N) indicator, to record the student never participated. Withdrawn grades do not affect the student's GPA.

At the end of the semester, if a student on your class roster never participated or participated and then stopped, but did not officially withdraw, you should assign one of the following grades:

  • FN = Failure, Never Attended
  • FS = Failure, Stopped Attending. This grade requires the last known date of attendance or participation.

If the student earned a Failing (F) grade, you must confirm that the student completed the course and earned an F. In the Faculty and Advising Center, you will be prompted to confirm the student completed the course for each F grade assigned.

The last known dates of attendance or participation are important for federal compliance reasons. Students who do not complete the course are required to have their enrollment status recalculated based on last dates of attendance and this may affect the amount of federal student aid for which the student is eligible.

A PDF copy of the Resolution on Academic Participation and Changes to "F" and "W" Grades [PDF] is available.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Am I required to take attendance in my class?

A: No. Per the Faculty Handbook, "The weight given to the class attendance in determining a student's grade is an academic matter; therefore, all instructors are responsible for their own attendance policies." (Faculty Handbook, Updated February 2017, p. 65)

Q: Will I be notified when a student withdraws from a class?

A: Yes. An email will be sent to the instructor(s) of record on a daily basis identifying the students who withdrew from class within the prior 24 hours. You will be able to record immediately the last day of attendance or participation in the Faculty & Advising Center, i.e., you will not need to wait until the end of the semester to record the withdrawn P/F/N indicator and last day of participation (for WP/WF grades).

Q: How do I determine the last date of attendance or participation for WP/WF/FS grades?

A: The U.S. Department of Education provides the following examples of what is considered academic participation or academically-related activity:

  • Physically attending a class where there is an opportunity for direct interaction between instructor and students;
  • Submitting an academic assignment;
  • Taking an exam, an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction;
  • Attending a study group assigned by the school;
  • Participating in an online discussion about academic matters; and
  • Initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course.

The following are not to be considered as academically-related activities: living in institutional housing, participating in the institution’s meal plan, logging into an online class without active participation, or participating in academic counseling or advisement.

Q: A student attended at the beginning of the semester and then did not come back until the final. Did the student complete the course?

A: If the student was at the final then the student completed the course. Please assign the appropriate grade based on your grading policy as indicated on your syllabus.

Q: If the University is audited, do I need to provide documentation for the date that I entered for the last date of attendance or participation?

A: It depends. If the audit is for the current academic year, then you may need to provide documentation per the Retention of Student Records policy in the Ohio University Faculty Handbook. However, if the semester being audited does not fall within the period indicated for the retention of records AND you have destroyed those records, then you will not need to provide documentation. However, if you retain records beyond what is required and have the records for the semester being audited then you will need to provide the documentation such as the record book indicating the last date of a quiz, homework assignment, attendance in class, submission of a paper, etc.

Per the Ohio University Faculty Handbook (Updated February 2017, p. 64):

Instructors shall retain grades, tests, and assignments as well as any other material used in determining a student's grade for at least one academic semester, and until the end of the fall semester following spring semester classes unless the instructor returns the material to the student or provides an alternative policy to the class at the beginning of the semester. Persons with grading responsibilities who leave the university should make appropriate arrangements with their department chairs or school directors on the disposition of their student records.

Q: How do I confirm that the Failing (F) grade indicates the student completed the course?

A: In the Faculty & Advising Center, you will upload or enter your grades as usual. After you click Save or Submit, you will be presented with a list of students for whom you have recorded an F grade. For each student you will confirm that the student completed the course, or you may record a different grade (to replace the F). You will need to confirm the F grade for each student only once (not each time you save).

Q: What date do I use for determining whether to assign a WP or WF, the date the student officially withdrew or the date of last attendance or participation?

A: The date of last attendance or participation should be used when determining the appropriate withdrawal grade to assign. Neither grade will impact the student’s grade point average, however, the grade will appear on the student’s official transcript.

Q: Where can I learn more about the grades available to assign?

A: Every course has an approved grade eligibility code that indicates which grades may be assigned. The Class List in the Faculty & Advising Center displays the eligible grades for the class. For more information about the University’s official grades, please review Ohio University policy 12.040: Grading.

A printable PDF of the Academic Participation Frequently Asked Questions [PDF] is available.