Especially in these stressful times, students are uniquely positioned to help their fellow students succeed. However, the work that goes into supporting one’s peers is rarely recognized or rewarded in traditional metrics, like class participation or graded exams.

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently highlighted a tool that Guy Schaffer, a lecturer in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, developed to give credit to students who make the effort. He calls it his “unseen work recognition portal.”

“It's been helpful for me to recognize the types of support students offer one another, and the kinds of gratitude they have for one another,” Schaffer explained in a popular post to a faculty Facebook group called Teaching in the Time of Corona. “It's been particularly useful this year, as students have been super supportive of one another.”

Schaffer provides his students with a link to a Google form, through which they can submit examples of how a classmate has helped them in the course and if they believe that unseen work is worth one or two extra credit points.

“Actions that can be recognized include, but are not limited to: offering feedback on your work, sharing notes, posing good questions, making helpful jokes, offering emotional support, or otherwise helping out,” Schaffer said.

Schaffer is available to discuss his teaching strategy, as well as the importance of fostering supportive environments for both students and faculty.