Engaging Students as Partners

'Much of the rhetoric about the value of a higher education market treats students as purchasers, customers or consumers. These terms are anathema to much of higher education… because teaching and learning are seen as symbiotic. Students do not consume knowledge but construct it… they are co-producers and collaborators.’

Gibbs, G (2012) Implications of ‘Dimensions of Quality’ in a market environment. HEA research series.

Why is Student Partnership important?

In order to get the most from higher education, students are encouraged to think of themselves not as passive consumers but as active and productive participants in a collaborative venture of learning. Participation in this venture involves students being willing and able to: challenge established ways of thinking and doing; undertake independent, self-directed research; and develop new and critical ways of understanding their discipline(s) and, indeed, the world at large.

Engaging Students as Partners provides a space for students and staff to work together to develop and enrich their learning and teaching experiences and to move away from inappropriate and unhelpful purchaser/provider distinctions.

In what ways can we engage students as partners?

Partnership projects can involve a number of different activities, including:

  • working with students to design and develop curricula
  • collaborating with students in research activities
  • developing and deepening collaborative decision-making and problem solving processes

If you engage in a staff-student partnership project with us, we can help to secure HEAR or Leicester Award accreditation for your student participants (students can find out more about the initiative here.)

Partnership projects can also include engaging students as agents in supporting and developing the learning of their peers (peer assisted learning), see our PAL Introduction and Departmental Guide.

Crucially, genuine partnership looks beyond a limited, and limiting, ‘customer demand/satisfaction’ model, and towards a more challenging and rewarding relationship based on mutual trust, robust discussion and genuine co-operation.

Examples of some of the ways in which we are supporting student-staff partnerships are available on our Teaching Resources and Case Studies page.

If you are considering undertaking a staff-studentship partnership project, and would like to speak to us or obtain more information, please contact us on studyhelp@le.ac.uk.


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