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Wishing to Track Students Better

I really wish there were an easy way to keep track of which students I’d taught in classroom situations, and what I’d taught them. With a population of just under 2000, it’s entirely possible that I’ll start seeing some of them over and over now that I’m getting invited to meet with more classes.

Now, I very rarely teach the same library session twice simply because each session is (hopefully) tailored to the needs of a specific assignment or set of assignments, and even if the same assignment comes up in future years there’s usually a new resource or something that keeps me on my toes. But there are a couple of components of these sessions that I find myself teaching over and over again in different contexts: the MLA International Bibliography, for example, or getting your hands on the actual text of an article, or the disciplinary importance and conventions of citation. Wouldn’t it be nice if I had some way of knowing if most of the students in an upcoming class had already practiced with one or more of these components and would want me to approach them in new and interesting ways? Even if I still had to cover the MLA IB because they needed something new or because a few of the students hadn’t worked with it before, wouldn’t it be nice if I knew to change things up enough that it would keep the interest of the veterans while still feeding the newbies what they needed?

I keep notes about this kind of thing for my individual appointments, and it really helps when this year’s seniors come to me for help with their senior theses and I can look back over the sessions I’ve had with them in past years to figure out what they might be expected to know already, and where I can push them to grow a little more in their research prowess.

Alas, I just can’t think of a good way to keep on top of this for the classroom situations, though. I mean, I could create a database that allowed me to describe the components of a class and link that class to all it’s enrolled students. Filtering by class could help me see what I’d included for that course number over the years. Filtering by student would show me if I’d seen individuals more than once, and what they’d supposedly learned from me. But honestly, I don’t think I’d be able to keep up with it.

Has anyone else done anything like this? How?