1. What are some tried and true ways of increasing student attendance?
The best way to increase attendance is for students to see that there are benefits to coming to class. Give points for class participation and/or regular short quizzes to test preparation for class. These approaches need to be appropriate for the learning goals and class size. A lecture that expands upon the textbook, activities that engage the students in the curriculum, and a focused plan where students clearly understand what each class period will deliver are ways to create a classroom environment where students want to attend.
2. Can I institute a mandatory class attendance policy in my class?
Yes, this is within your authority. However, it needs to be clearly specified in the syllabus.
3. What is the generally agreed upon guideline for the amount of time that students should expect to devote to each of their classes (outside of class time)?
Typically it is two hours of study time per credit (6 hours for a 3 credit class) for students who are dedicated to learning the material and performing well. This will be more in some weeks and less in others.
4. Can I forbid the use of cell phones and non-class use of personal computers during class time? What are effective ways of enforcing this policy?
Yes, you can have such a policy which is generally motivated by respect for fellow students. Enforcement has to be on a case-by-case basis, but consistently asking offenders to cease the activity will reinforce the policy to the entire class.
5. How can I find out if students understand the material before a formal quiz or exam? Are there different types of real-time, in-class assessments that have worked for other faculty?
It is very useful to have in-class assessments. It helps student see whether they understand the lectures and it helps the faculty understand where there are gaps in knowledge. There are a number of simple, in-class assessment techniques. The best source is Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers by Thomas A. Angelo and K. Patricia Cross (ISBN-13: 978-1555425005). The Library has several copies that can be checked out to faculty.
6. Can/should I prohibit certain internet sites as sources for student research papers?
One of the goals of educating students in the information age is to teach them how to discriminate regarding the source and value of knowledge/information. Some classes, particularly those that emphasize academic research skills, may wish to teach students about the process of peer review and instruct them in the use of library databases appropriate for specific kinds of knowledge. Therefore, it may be appropriate to prohibit students from using public internet sources for particular assignments or across-the-board in a particular class and to state this policy clearly in the class syllabus.