When students miss time from class, they usually depend on the instructor to fill them in on what they missed.  I wanted to create a way to put the responsibility back on students to catch up on anything they missed when absent. The idea I developed also encourages teamwork and the idea of looking out for your peers, great for building an interdependent community of learners.

At the beginning of my courses, I ask students to identify a “buddy” who will be responsible for picking up handouts, assignments and other relevant information in case one of them misses a class.  This buddy system can be set up in groups of two or three.  When handing out items or setting due dates in the first couple of weeks, I say, “If your buddy is not here, make sure you get the information for them.”  I offer the same reminder when discussing due dates for assignments, class outings, etc.

The absent student is responsible for picking up information from the attending buddy.  When absentees come to me to ask what they missed (or “Did I miss anything?”), I refer them back to their buddies.  I tell them to get information from their buddy first. Then, if they still have questions, they can come back to me for clarification.

This approach has worked wonderfully for me.  Students see that it is their responsibility to make sure that they catch up on missed classes.  I no longer have to hold onto extra copies of materials for students who missed a previous class or make sure that they are delivered. I don’t have to return to my office to get extra copies of information from a previous session.  Students are looking out for one another, developing responsibility and interdependence in their effort. 

–Sue Davis, Continuing Education Dept, New Brunswick Community College, CN

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