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Conceptions of students as partners

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Abstract and Figures

Engaging students as partners (SaP) in teaching and learning is an emerging yet contested topic in higher education. This study interviewed 16 students and staff working in partnership across 11 Australian universities to understand how they conceptualised SaP and the opportunities they believed SaP afforded their universities. Thematic analysis revealed three overlapping conceptions of partnership: SaP as counter-narrative, SaP as values-based practice, and SaP as cultural change. The findings are first interpreted through the lens of liminality and an ethic of care. This is followed by a discussion of inclusivity of involvement, resistance, and reinforcement of neoliberal agendas despite good intentions. Finally, implications for cautious enactment of both practice and research are offered.
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Conceptions of students as partners
Kelly E Matthews
1
&Alexander Dwyer
1
&Lorelei Hine
1
&
Jarred Turner
1
Published online: 3 March 2018
#Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018
Abstract Engaging students as partners (SaP) in teaching and learning is an emerging yet
contested topic in higher education. This study interviewed 16 students and staff working in
partnership across 11 Australian universities to understand how they conceptualised SaP and
the opportunities they believed SaP afforded their universities. Thematic analysis revealed
three overlapping conceptions of partnership: SaP as counter-narrative,SaP as values-based
practice,andSaP as cultural change. The findings are first interpreted through the lens of
liminality and an ethic of care. This is followed by a discussion of inclusivity of involvement,
resistance, and reinforcement of neoliberal agendas despite good intentions. Finally, implica-
tions for cautious enactment of both practice and research are offered.
Keywords Students as partners .Higher education .Reciprocity .Neoliberal .Liminality .Ethic
of care
Introduction
Students as partners (SaP) is fundamentally about meaningful relationships between students
and staff members at a university. Cook-Sather et al. (2014) see partnership as a collaborative,
reciprocal process through which all participants have the opportunity to contribute equally,
although not necessarily in the same ways, to curricular or pedagogical conceptualization,
decision-making, implementation, investigation, or analysis(p. 67). This view of partnership
recognises that students and staff possess different but comparable forms of expertise. Healey
et al. (2014) suggest that partnership teams may work to enhance teaching, learning, and
assessment; design curricula and evaluate pedagogy; engage in subject-based research; or
participate in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Matthews et al. (2018) argue for
partnership in the context of developing broader institutional cultures that value egalitarian
High Educ (2018) 76:957971
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-018-0257-y
*Kelly E Matthews
k.matthews1@uq.edu.au
1
Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
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