As an instructor, you may have less overt ways of taking attendance than simply calling roll and marking it down on a piece of paper (quizzes, clickers, or exit slips come to mind). However, you gather the data, this sort of information is exceedingly useful to have, whether to illustrate the general relationship between attendance and success or discuss performance issues with particular students.
If you’re not using one of the methods above (or perhaps in conjunction with them), there’s a new app for i-devices, Attendance2, that can help you keep track of classroom attendance – and easily communicate an individual student’s records with him/her. Designed by a computer science professor, the app is getting some good press. It’s easy to create classes (using contacts or a .csv upload), track customized fields of information (beyond present/absent), and use the app to randomly select students who are present in order to insure equitable classroom participation.
I’m also mulling over some other (less spiffy, perhaps) ways to track attendance. Stay tuned!