I have always taken attendance – whether I was teaching fifth grade, ninth grade, undergraduates, graduate students, or professors who were taking a class. Taking attendance can be an onerous task, requiring tons of time and bookkeeping (neither of which you can afford) or it can be relatively painless. Here are five tips for you to CHOOSE from in order to acknowledge your students’ presence (or lack thereof) in your class.
- Require students to turn in notecards at each class period.These cards have students’ names and other pertinent info on them. You can use the same cards week in and week out or you can hand out notecards, which students then turn in with a response to something from the class or another learning-centered activity.
- Expect students to pick up their graded assignments and the day’s handouts. Then, judging by whatever is left over, you will know who is absent. Make it clear to students that you expect integrity, that is, you want students to gather up their own assignments and handouts, but not anyone else’s. It worked for me.
- Look around the class room and check off who is present, either using a seating chart or just because you know all of your students. You can do this at the beginning of class or during a class activity. This works in classes of 50 or fewer but can become cumbersome if there are many more than that. If you have a graduate (or undergraduate) assistant, you can have him/her take care of this task.
- Call the roll. Ugh (in terms of the amount of time that it takes), but it is one of the options. At the beginning of the semester, I would sometimes do this as a way of helping me to learn the students’ names.
- Make your class a must-see event. No matter how magnificent our teaching is, most of us do not create “must-attend” events given that today’s students have an enormous number of competing demands. However, some weeks you areable to do this. Then, you do not need to worry about whether students are there. They will be – and they will have brought friends.
When you have classes of 200, 400, or more, then it is essentially impossible to take roll using any of the ideas in this list. If you teach such huge numbers, I hope you will write an article with suggestions for how to take roll quickly and easily. I would certainly read it!