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Developing an automatic attendance

register system for CPUT



Ivanilson Ganga Francisco
Cape Peninsula University of Technology
ivanilson07@hotmail.com

Boniface Kabaso
Cape Peninsula University of Technology
kabasob@cput.ac.za

Fernando Neto
Cape Peninsula University of Technology
feroxneto@gmail.com
Abstract
Attendance register is a fundamental and compulsory tool in the academic
environment. Despite the use of different mechanisms in the IT Department in CPUT to
track students attendance, problems remain because there is not a standard format for
the attendance register, what makes the manual analysis of it inconvenient, time
consuming and inaccurate. A standardised and consistent attendance register system
does not exist in CPUT. The paper presents a network based automatic attendance
register system with use of RFID technology as the solution to ensure the well being of
the institution and academic progression of students. An electronic solution is a more
effective mechanism to for collection, processing, storage and production of attendance
reports and long-term analysis.

Keywords: academic attendance, RFID, attendance registers system.


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List of Acronyms
RFID Radio frequency identification
QR Codes Quick response codes
CPUT Cape Peninsula University Technology
IT Information technology


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1. INTRODUCTION

Academic attendance register is a very important and compulsory tool in the process
of learning; it helps lecturers track students individually and measure their interest.
Academic attendance is indeed one of the key factors that determine students
performance (Durden & Ellis, 1995). Even though there is no causal relationship
between students high attendance and good academic performance; but there is a
positive correlation between them; in general students with good or excellent academic
performance have high attendance rate.

In a interview (Appendix A) Masalov CPUT IT lecturer (2012) agrees that there is
some link between students attendance and good academic performance, but not
obvious, and an electronic solution would be very useful for lecturer in the process of
gathering, processing and storing attendance information. Attendance is an indicator of
the student's attitude (discipline, responsibility, motivation, and self-organization. If all
above mentioned are in place, then it results in good academic performance (ibid.).

Automated attendance systems can use a variety of technology such as: electronic
tags, barcode badges, and magnetic stripe cards. Electronic attendance systems
enable more effective and efficient monitoring of attendance as well as allowing the
identification of longer-term trends in absence (Cymry Ifanc Young Wales, 2011).
Quality attendance data can help strategic planning and can enable CPUT IT
department to manage attendance issues more effectively.



2. RESEARCH PROBLEM

2.1 BACKGROUND TO THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
Tracking and stimulation of academic attendance are key factors to promote students
performance (Durden & Ellis, 1995). Academic attendance is such a vital instrument in
the academic environment that it is logically explicable why researchers put so much
emphasis on it and on the full use of its advantages. In order to make full use of the
advantages that attendance register provides is crucial to create an effective
mechanism to produce quality attendance data.
Without a vigorous mechanism enforcement, it is hard to ensure that individuals take
full benefit of all the offered educational opportunities by the institution; poor
attendance or absenteeism reduce the student interaction with the academic
environment and his exposure to the knowledge leading to the disruption of the
learning process (Hornback et al., 2006). When students do not attend school on a
regular basis, they are less likely to reach their full potential and frequently end up
behind with their work and poor performance.

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Johnston (2000) underlines that the aim of applying measures to control academic
attendance is not to penalize or punish students but motivate them and bring all the
necessary attributes together to achieve academic success.
Other aspects such as motivation and eagerness to gain knowledge as factors to
determine good academic performance; a lot of different factors which student
attendance itself might depend on, they are attitude and motivation of students and
their parents, conditions in the school, transportation, student health, even weather,
but these issues are out scope of the paper.
The study focus on the CPUT IT department and on the attendance problem inherent
to it.
The problems faced concerning the attendance tracking system in CPUT IT
department are:
Few lecturers check attendance register regularly because its manual, and it
simply ends up archived;
There is not a standard format for the attendance register;
The process is time consuming;
Some lecturers forget to register attendance;
Sometimes lecturers find it inconvenient to track and analyze attendance
register;

2.2 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
The manual attendance register system is inefficient and inconsistent. An electronic
solution to gather, validate, process and store attendance data is needed in order to
allow students, lecturers and the CPUT IT department to make full of its advantages.

2.3 AIM OF STUDY
The primary objective of development of an automatic attendance register system that
operates in a non-intrusive way to gather, collect, process and store attendance
information.
The research also aims to emphasize the relevance of students attendance in the
learning process.


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2.3 RESEARCH QUESTION, SUB-QUESTIONS AND
OBJECTIVES

Research question Research methods Objectives
Can an automatic
attendance register system
make it more convenient to
track students attendance
and provide quality
attendance data?

Simulation in controlled
environment
Prove the efficiency of the
artifact.


Research sub-question Research methods Objectives
What is the current use of
attendance register in the
IT Department in CPUT?

Interview
Establish a comparison of
what is supposed to be
done and what is actually
being done.
How relevant is attendance
register in the learning
process?
Literature analysis
Determine the importance
of attendance register.
Are students able to use
technology behind an
electronic attendance
register system?

Survey
Find if CPUT IT students
can get used to
technologies behind the
solution.


3. LITERATURE REVIEW

This section presents an evaluation of relevant points from studies previously done
concerning development of automatic attendance systems, and the relevance of
attendance in the learning process.

There is wide agreement that chronic school absence jeopardizes student
performance and predicts dropout (Neild & Balfanz, 2006; Allensworth & Easton, 2007
both cited in Rel West, 2011).
Even thought with the advent of E-learning and widespread of academic resources
access, "Professors and instructors have to come up with ways to ensure a healthy

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participation from the students, and make sure that the classic student-professor
interactive relationship is kept intact" (Hornback et al., 2006, p.2).
Studies in this area in general analyze students attendance and its correlation with
academic success. Moore (2006) used observational methods on undergraduate
psychology students and found a positive correlation between students high
attendance and good academic performance.

In Golding work in 2009, he describes an experiment to find attendance/performance
relationship with students divided in two groups; for control group attendance was not
compulsory, and for experimental group, all students were required to attend; in one of
the experiments both groups were taught by the same lecturer, in the same venue (at
different occasions) during one semester; positive correlation was found. Although
high attendance does not cause excellent academic performance, enforcing students
attendance by making use efficient mechanisms will get students to come to classes.
Mechanism may include: sign-in sheets, random in-class writing assignments, weekly
quizzes, etc (ibid.).

Despite the subject or students particular learning style (visual, auditory or
kinesthetic), regular attendance is a key component in the process of learning; it is
crucial to recognize other vital component, which is attention; researchers state that in
order to make proper use of their cognitive ability and make the information travel from
your short-term memory into long-term memory, students must be able to effectively
pay attention in class (Ldpride, 2008).

Attendance does matter for academic achievement (Durden & Ellis, 1995); but
attendance itself is associated with school and family factors as well, such as the
presence of an engaging learning experience, experienced and skilled teachers
(Chang & Romero, 1998 cited in Rel West, 2011).

Paredes and Ugarte (2009) provide evidence that attendance is a main factor affecting
student performance, and indicate advantages that merit policies regarding minimum
attendance.

Besides the study of the traditional attendance register method and the attendance
policy in use in CPUT, the paper presents the development of an automatic
attendance register. The development of the system intends to generate good quality
attendance data for different purposes, such as: proper attendance tracking, available
and organized students attendance information for lecturers consultation, monthly
attendance reports, etc.



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4. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The paper is fundamentally a design science research that addresses a problem
(exposed in section 2.2) and presents the development of an artifact. In design science
the research conducts to the development of an artifact supported by related theory
(Hevner et al., 2004).
The study also explains the state of attendance register use in the CPUT IT
department, its relevance, and show by means of a simulation how an automatic
attendance register system could help tracking students attendance and make
effective use of the educational opportunities offered by the institution.
The essential literature information for the implementation of the research was the
analysis on relevant books and articles related to design science, strategies to improve
academic attendance, student attendance systems, automatic control of students
attendance, and academic learning styles. Different technologies that can be used to
build electronic attendance systems such as Bluetooth, RFID and QR, have also been
studied.
Primary data was gathered by use of interviews with one CPUT IT lecturer, Mr.
Masalov (Appendix A), and one relevant member of the IT Department, Mrs. Lakay
(Appendix B); these interviews provided precise information about the state of
academic attendance in IT Department in CPUT and the inefficiency of the attendance
mechanism in place.
Additional data was collected by means of a survey among the CPUT IT department
students. Neuman (2006) states that surveys can provide accurate, reliable, and valid
data as long as serious effort thought are applied. The survey was put in place to find
information about students concerning the limitation of the technologies proposed to
address the research problem; for instance, concerning Bluetooth technology one of
the proposed solutions it was necessary to find out the percentage of students who
have Bluetooth enabled mobile phones.
Non-probability sample technique (haphazard sampling) was put in place because our
cases share the same characteristics (they all belong to CPUT Cape Town Campus
IT department), and they are easy to reach. The sample consisted of 420 students.

4.1 GUIDELINES FOR DESIGN-SCIENCE
Design science is inherently a problem solving process (Hevner et al., 2004). The
knowledge in design science field and the understanding of the research problem
allowed the researcher to breakdown the approach in seven guidelines:

4.1.1 PROBLEM RELEVANCE:
The relevance of the problem is inherent to the fact that without an effective and
efficient mechanism to enforce the attendance policy in CPUT student cannot fully

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benefit from the educational opportunities offered by the institution. In an interview
(Appendix B) Lakay (2012) CPUT IT Department responsible states that
attendance registers are important documents, which are archived and might be
retrieved for consultation by lecturers and department in determined circumstances,
such as complaint from students and confrontation with final results.

4.1.2 DESIGN AS A SEARCH PROCESS:
Design science has iterative as is main characteristic, the search for the best solution
to a problem and for the innovation is constant.
The study is particularly characterized by its search through different technologies as
solution, evaluation and the selection of the best solution.
In order to build a robust resilient to failure and reliable automatic attendance
register system, it is necessary to determine which technology should be put in place
to capture data from students when they enter and leave the venue; such data must
include student identification, check-in and check-out time. Besides being reliable and
robust the technology must be low cost, quick implementation and compliant with the
existent network.
Weiser (1991) states that the most profound technologies are those that disappear, in
the sense of becoming extremely size reduced, almost invisible, or inherent to people
everyday objectives.
Pervasive technology, which also seems to disappear, or make use of micro
technology and being integrated in the everyday objectives, such as student cards and
mobile phones, reduces the human interaction with systems to a minimum, and is
more comfortable from the users point of view.
In the context, three technologies were analyzed, namely: Bluetooth, QR codes (Quick
Response) and RFID (Radio Frequency ID). These technologies are going to be
explained and have their merits and demerit analysed. Finally, the technology which
shows itself to be more suitable for is going to be indicated.

4.1.2.1 BLUETOOTH
Bluetooth wireless technology uses a radio link that is optimized for power conscious
personal devices. Bluetooth operates at an unlicensed, 2.4-GHz industrial, scientific
and medical (ISM) band, and uses a fast frequency-hopping in order to minimize
interference, handling voice and data communications between Bluetooth devices,
with very limited range, usually less than 10 meters (Xiao, 2007). A Bluetooth enabled
devices support a synchronous communication channel for voice-type communication,
and an asynchronous channel for data communication. A Bluetooth device may be
configured to handle both types of communication channels over the same time
interval. Data traffic is transmitted unidirectionally and is limited to 723.2 kb/s, and
voice traffic is bidirectional and is limited to 64 kb/s (ibid.).

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Bluetooth enabled devices contain a chip imprinted with a globally unique 48-bit
address, the Bluetooth address.
Since humans do not deal well with 48-bit numbers like 0x000EED3D1829, Bluetooth
devices will almost always have a user-friendly name. This name is usually shown to
the user in the place of the Bluetooth address to identify a device. For many machines,
such as mobile phones and desktop computers, this name is configurable and the user
can choose an arbitrary word or phrase (Huang & Rudolph, 2005).
The proposed solution with use of Bluetooth technology consists of relying on
students personal mobile phones as the Bluetooth module to declare their presence in
class. Bluetooth enabled mobile phones are common to almost everybody since is not
considered a new technology. Another Bluetooth module (receptor) had to be
strategically placed inside the venue. That receptor would be responsible for
constantly scanning all the students Bluetooth mobile phones and send their
Bluetooth names to an attendance system server connected to it via cable.
This seems to be a simple solution with easy implementation since is been widely
used and it does not require much implementation and operational effort.
In order to make the solution work effectively, some conditions must be satisfied,
namely:
Every student in class must have a Bluetooth mobile phone;
The Bluetooth modules on the students mobile phone must remain turned on
during the entire class duration;
Every student must give a meaningful name (such as respective student
number) to his Bluetooth module.
From the necessary conditions indicated above, different issues may raise up. Does
every student have a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone? Are students willing to keep
their Bluetooth turned on for hours? What if the battery power runs out? Those
questions may definitely rise up some uncertainty and compromise the effectiveness of
the proposed solution.
A survey was conducted in the CPUT IT department with the purpose of finding the
percentage of Bluetooth enabled mobile phone users among the students and if they
agree that make use of their phone for attendance register purpose is a good idea.
A nonprobability sample technique (haphazard sampling) was put in place because
our cases share same characteristics (they all belong to CPUT IT department), and
they are easy to reach. The sample consisted of 420 students of CPUT Cape Town
campus.


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Figure 2: Representation of the percentage of student who own Bluetooth mobile
phones


Figure 3: Representation of the percentage of students who think using Bluetooth is a
good idea

The graphics above represent a major setback for the solution, since it is only suitable
for students who are Bluetooth users. The students that considered using Bluetooth
enabled mobile phone for attendance register a bad idea pointed different reasons,
such as uncertainty about the percentage of student without a Bluetooth enabled
mobile phone, quicker drawing of battery charge, and risk of invasion Bluetooth
invasion to their mobile phones.

Students
without
Bluetooth
9%
Students
with
Bluetooth
91%
Bad Idea
22%
Good Idea
78%

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4.1.2.2 QR
QR (or Quick Response) code is a two-dimensional barcode that consist of small black
dots arranged in a square pattern on a white background. It can contain any
alphanumeric information.
The QR code is detected and scanned as a 2-dimensional digital image by a
semiconductor image sensor and is then digitally analyzed by a programmed
processor; its versatility allow it to be used over a much wider range of applications.

Figure 4: QR Code image (containing: Ivanilson Francisco 209044772)
Information about students such as name and number can be translated into a QR
code by a QR generator, which can then be displayed electronically or in printed
format. Decoding the information can be done with any image sensor.
The proposed solution with use QR technology consist of generate, print and distribute
individual QR code (including name and student number) for all students. QR code can
be printed in any surface, from paper to the back of student card.
QR image sensor would have to be placed in the entrance of the venue, waiting for
students to place the QR code in front of it to declare their presence before gain
access. That QR image sensor would also be responsible for sending the collected
data to the attendance server.
Some setbacks concerning the implementation of QR technology are:
Image sensors require line of sight, which means that students would have to
place their QR code in front of the QR image sensor, properly positioned;
QR image sensor takes some time to process and translate QR code
information;
If the QR code is scratched or partially damaged it might impossible to
translate;
QR image sensor requires a certain amount of light; this can create some
inconvenient at night time, or in some relatively dark spots of the institution,
where light is reduced;

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4.1.2.3 RFID
Radio-frequency identification is the use of wireless systems that uses radio-
frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data from a tag, for the purposes of
automatic identification. RFID systems uses tags or labels attached to the objects to
be identified.
An RFID reader is a device to communicate with the RFID tag with the purpose of
reading the tags code. It broadcasts a radio signal, which is received and reflected by
the tag. Readers can either be portable handheld terminals or fixed devices that can
be positioned in strategic places such as in loading bays in shipping and receiving
facilities, under carpets, or in doorways. The flexibility and low cost of RFID
technologies conducted various researchers and developers to work previously on
attendance systems in the professional and academic environment following those
standards.
RFID is a common term used to explain technologies that involve the use of data
stored on small chips or tags which can be communicated to a reader from a distance
by means of radio transmission (Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, 2008).
The proposed solution with use of RFID technology consist of a hands-free automatic
attendance register system; the system includes a RFID gate reader, placed right next
to the door inside the venue, which is powerful enough to detect the students RFID
tags even inside their bags or packets and will detect their presence as soon as they
pass through the door.

Raheja et al. (2009) point out some important advantages of implementing RFID
technology, some of them are:
To keep the daily entry-exit record of students in centrally distributed and
networked environment;
RFID readers do not require a direct line of sight to the tags or chips; they can
be read through some materials, like books, bags, and clothes;
Students need simply pass through the gate reader, no need of taking out the
tag;
Automatic monthly report generation of an employee which includes relevant
record.
From the technologies indicated above, RFID is the most suitable for the automatic
attendance system because of its characteristics and advantages.

4.4 DESIGN AS AN ARTIFACT:
Artifacts are innovations that define the ideas, practices, technical capabilities, and
products through which the analysis, design, implementation, and use of information
systems can be effectively and efficiently accomplished (Tsichritzis 1997; Denning
1997, cited in Hevner at al., 2004).

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The study presents a network based attendance register system, which makes use of
RFID technology.

4.4.1 CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SYSTEM
This section presents the automatic attendance register system and its specification.
The system integrates low frequency RFID gate readers and passive tag at one end,
and network based application software running at the other end.
The automatic attendance register system consists of three components connected via
the CPUT network:
Passive RFID tags
RFID gate readers
The attendance system server

Figure 5: System representation (Adapted from Silva et al., 2008)

Each RFID passive tag holds a 10 characters code, which refers to a student, or a
record pre-registered in the system serves.
The system has a simple working principle: the detection of a student RFID tag by the
RFID gate reader initiates a communication with the attendance server and
establishes a link for the data transfer through TCP/IP protocol over the network
infrastructure.

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The attendance system server responsible for processing and storage of attendance
data consists of a Websocket, JavaScript server and MySQL database. The server is
also responsible to provide remote access to attendance information consultation and
production of reports. The real-time online access functionality is supported by HTML5,
JavaScript and JQuery, running on an Apache webserver.
The server stores the records of student attendance, the student number, the exact
check-in and check-out time, and the IP address of the gate readers. The attendance
system server is a most important element of the system, because it is where the
policy-based decisions about the status of students are made. The server has a
dynamic policy entry editing feature, which allows the authorized system users to
change the policy entries in the system.
The RFDI gate readers must be placed next to the door in the venues; their function
consist of reading the RFID passive tags codes and send it to attendance system
server. The RFID gate readers operate in both online and offline mode to provide
network fault tolerance. In case of temporary network failure RFID gate reader keeps
the codes captured from the tags in temporary memory until the connections can be
established again.
The RFID tag readers operate wirelessly, sending energy to the passive tags when
they are in the 1,5 meters and reading the information reflected by the tags containing
the code.
The connection between the gate readers and the system server is established via
Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), because it is connection oriented and provides a
reliable byte stream channel through. In order to have success in the connection
establishment, two conditions must be observed:
System server cannot be dormant; it must be running before the gate readers
attempt to connect;
System server must have a specified socket that welcomes some initial contact
from gate readers.
As security feature, the system had encryption added to it. A complex encryption
algorithm is used to provide a security standard.

4.5 DESIGN EVALUATION:
The automatic attendance register system presented in the study was created in
response to the problem regarding students attendance in CPUT, exposed in section
2.1. The evaluation of the artifact must reflect the research problem itself and how the
artifact solves it. A design artifact is complete and effective when it satisfies all the
requirements and constraints of the problem it was meant to solve (Hevner et al.,
2004).
Artifact evaluation must also concern about data quality, which concerns about data
fitness to the intended use in operation, decision making and planning.

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Watson et al. (2010) indicate data quality dimensions which are going to be adapted to
the attendance system:
Data accuracy: data captured must reflect the reality, the correct tag number
and correct time;
Data validity: data captures must the validated or confronted with data pre-
loaded in a attendance system database;
Interoperability: data captured must be useful and integrated across the
system;
Presentation: data collected must be presented to users in a meaningful
format and appearance.

4.6 RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION:
Design science research must provide clear contribution in the areas of the design
artifact, design construction, and design evaluation knowledge (Hevner et al., 2004).
The contribution of the research is the system itself. The system is effective in the
resolution of the research problem (section 2), and it utilizes an innovative combination
of techniques, explained in details in section 4.4.1.

4.7 RESEARCH RIGOR:
Rigor concentrates on the approach in which research is conducted; in harmony with
the aim of reaching high rigor standard, the study was closely supervised by the
experienced senior lecturer responsible.
The research model adopted for the development of the artifact is presented in the
figure below, which is an adaptation of the framework for Information Systems
research (Hevner et al., 2004).

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Figure 1: Research Model Framework (Adapted from Hevner et al., 2004)

4.8 RESEARCH COMMUNICATION
4.8.1 SIMULATION AND RESULTS
In order to show the reliability, efficiency and convenience of the system a simulation
was performed in controlled environment with a prototype.

The following equipment was used in the simulation:
Arduino Uno Board
Arduino Parallax RFID reader
RFID passive tags
A laptop computer as the server connected via LAN.


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Figure 6: Simulation Kit

The Arduino Uno is a C language based programmable microcontroller board on
the ATmega328. It has 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM
outputs), 6 analog inputs, a 16 MHz ceramic resonator, a USB connection, a power
jack, an ICSP header, and a reset button (REF).

The simulation generated positive results; the information automatically collected from
the tags by the RFID reader was sent to the server, which confronted the tag number
to a database, and if the student belongs to the class in progress, the check-in time is
recorded and a positive feedback is sent back to reader module.
The purpose of the simulation was to ensure that system is able to collect, validate and
store quality data, making if available for consultation and report.
The research will also be formally published in academic presentation in CPUT on the
26
th
, October 2012.

5. Limitations

Some limitations on the course of the research prevented it to be implemented at
CPUT IT department. The acquisition of the material (RFDI readers, tags and Ethernet
Arduino shields) was the biggest one, because it conditioned the actual
implementation of the system.


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6. Conclusion

The result of the study showed that it was possible to create a robust and efficient
system handle the process of tracking and recording students attendance in a non-
intrusive way. By mean of a simulation, the developed automatic attendance register
system generated positive results in the process of gathering, processing and storing
attendance information, and making it available for on-line consultation and reports.
The simulation showed that the system is able to produce data with the quality
dimensions expected (accuracy, validity, interoperability and presentation).
The electronic solution for the automatic attendance system based in RFID technology
presents itself to be robust and efficient addressing the problem that CPUT IT
department faces concerns attendance register.
RFID is the automated identification and data collection technology, which leads to
dynamic, accurate and timely data entry (Qaiser & Khan, 2006). Its adaptation in
academic environment produces same positive results.
The results of the study also indicate that students attendance does matter for
academic achievement. The results do not show that by increasing students
attendance academic achievement goes up too.
Attendance policy has significant important effects on educational performance
(Paredes and Ugarte, 2009).
Having a vigorous mechanism to enforce attendance will definitely get students to
come to class; although students high attendance does not cause high academic
performance, there is a link that Durden and Ellis (1995) describe as a nonlinear effect;
which becomes more evident in subjects more sensitive to small changes in
attendance rate (like Mathematics) and less in some others (Johnston, 2000; Caviglia-
Harris, 2006).


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Developing an automatic attendance register system for CPUT Page 21 of 24
Appendix A

Interview with Mr. Nikolai Masalov (CPUT IT lecturer)
Interview conducted by Ivanilson Francisco via Email (18 May 2012)
Question: In your personal opinion is attendance straight connected to academic
success, in other words, the higher the attendance frequency the higher the passing
students percentage?
Answer: There is definitely some link between student's attendance and performance,
but not that obvious. Personally for me, attendance is more an indicator of the
student's attitude (discipline, responsibility, motivation, self-organization, etc). If all
above mentioned is in place, then it results in good academic performance. However
there are some exceptions: some students come to the class just to sign attendance
register and disappear after 1st period, there are also rare cases when student with
poor attendance doing well (usually one with a capacity for self-study, as all study
materials and guiding documents are available online on BlackBoard).

Question: Do you agree that a automatic register system will be a lot more useful and
manageable than the one in use right now?
Answer: I think it would be useful for the lecturers tool (once upon a time I used
MySQL database to monitor attendance, capturing data manually (time consuming).
I also assume students would scan their tags at the beginning of each period and
lecturer would also monitor the number of students attended, as some student could
scan not one tag, but it's own and someone's else.

Developing an automatic attendance register system for CPUT Page 22 of 24
Appendix B

Interview with Mrs. Denise Lakay (CPUT IT department member)
Interview conducted by Ivanilson Francisco, in person (31 August 2012, Cape Town)

Question: According to the CPUT Academic Rules and Regulation book each
department in the institution has its particular attendance policy. What are the main
guidelines of the IT department attendance policy?
Answer: At the moment CPUT IT department does not have an attendance policy as
such, what should not be the case because attendance should be part of our exclusion
policy. Like in other departments where students must have a minimum of 80% of
attendance during the year in order to pass; they also allocate a mark for attendance,
the equivalent of 5% of students final mark. That is something that the department
should definitely work on.

Question: Since there is no attendance policy in place in our department, how do
lecturers handle issues concerning students attendance? Some lecturers take
attendance and actively use that information; some other lecturers simply choose to
not do at all, what does the department have to say about that?
Answer: The department has in actual fact instructed all the staff members to take
students attendance; however some lectures do not do so. The department has lists of
all registered students and relies on attendance information for important decision-
making. Lecturers who take attendance are able to provide more accurate information
about their classes and a better control over their students.

Question: In which circumstances lecturers and department might actual retrieve
attendance registers?
Answer: Most of the time in case of complains from students parents. Attendance
registers provides information about student attitude and interest.

Question: On yes of the IT department does it represent a problem if a lecturer does
not take attendance?
Answer: Yes, because all students sign a contract between them and the institution,
and also the lecturers. Lecturers must perform they part of the contract because
students pay the institution and the institution pay them. Attendance registers become
very important documents to verify if the parts are doing what they are supposed to.


Developing an automatic attendance register system for CPUT Page 23 of 24
Table of Contents
Developing an automatic attendance register system for CPUT ........................................ 1
1. INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................ 3
2. RESEARCH PROBLEM.................................................................................................... 3
2.1 BACKGROUND TO THE RESEARCH PROBLEM .............................................. 3
2.2 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM ................................................................. 4
2.3 AIM OF STUDY ............................................................................................................... 4
2.3 RESEARCH QUESTION, SUB-QUESTIONS AND OBJECTIVES.................... 5
3. LITERATURE REVIEW ..................................................................................................... 5
4. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ........................................................................................ 7
4.1 GUIDELINES FOR DESIGN-SCIENCE ................................................................. 7
4.1.1 PROBLEM RELEVANCE: ................................................................................ 7
4.1.2 DESIGN AS A SEARCH PROCESS: ............................................................. 8
4.4 DESIGN AS AN ARTIFACT: .................................................................................. 12
4.4.1 CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SYSTEM ..................................................... 13
4.5 DESIGN EVALUATION:.......................................................................................... 14
4.6 RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION: .............................................................................. 15
4.7 RESEARCH RIGOR: ............................................................................................... 15
4.8 RESEARCH COMMUNICATION .......................................................................... 16
4.8.1 SIMULATION AND RESULTS ....................................................................... 16
In order to show the reliability, efficiency and convenience of the system a simulation
was performed in controlled environment. ........................................................................... 16
The following equipment was used in the simulation: ........................................................ 16
Arduino Uno Board .......................................................................................................... 16
Arduino Parallax RFID reader ........................................................................................ 16
RFID passive tags ............................................................................................................ 16
A laptop computer as the server connected via LAN. ................................................ 16
The simulation generated positive results; the information automatically collected from
the tags by the RFID reader was sent to the server, which confronted the tag number
to a database, and if the student belongs to the class in progress, the check-in time is
recorded and a positive feedback is sent back to reader module. ................................... 17
The purpose of the simulation was to ensure that system is able to collect, validate and
store quality data, making if available for consultation and report. .................................. 17
5. Limitations ......................................................................................................................... 17
6. Conclusion......................................................................................................................... 18
7. References ........................................................................................................................ 19

Developing an automatic attendance register system for CPUT Page 24 of 24
Appendix A ................................................................................................................................ 21
Appendix B ................................................................................................................................ 22