Tips on 'how to' take attendance?

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In a required undergraduate course I grade students also on participation (and thereby also attendance) because the course is designed as highly interactive and discussion based, which would not work if only a handful of students would attend class.

So far, I have been using a seating chart for this purpose (something I picked up when I was a graduate student): students choose a seat at the beginning of the semester, I mark it on a chart modeling the classroom, and using this chart I take studentsí attendance at the beginning of class and their participation throughout and after class (and also use this to learn studentsí names). All in all, and because class sizes have steadily increased at the college I teach, this is still a fairly cumbersome way of taking attendance.

So I am looking for advise/ideas on how I may do this more efficiently and easily in practice (in particular the attendance part). I would welcome any suggestions. 

I pass around a piece of paper and they sign in...My largest class is 28 students, so it is fairly obvious when anyone is missing.

You could require your students to do a five-minute writing assignment at the beginning of class or at the end of class.

These writing assignments could answer questions about the reading for that day, or they could ask student to identify questions that they have about that day's reading, or questions that remain unanswered after that day's discussion.

You could use these brief assignments to guide discussion that day, or to kick off discussion the next day, or just as an additional spur to engage with the reading, especially if you decide to include these writing assignments in your overall grading schema.

My classes are small enough (n=25) that it's easiest for me to call roll out loud. It helps me memorize/remember names. The way I do it is this: I give all students a 4x6 index card at the beginning of the semester. They write their name and class time on the index card, and pass it back to me. I then keep the cards in a file (like this one) that comes to class with me daily. If a student is absent, I make a note of the date on their card. It takes me no more than a minute or so,and it's much easier for me to track attendance this way than it is to print out a roster every day.

How large are your classes?



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