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What are Student-Faculty Pedagogical Partnerships?

In contrast to more traditional models of teaching and learning, where professors bring all the knowledge and students bring minds ready to be filled with that knowledge, student-faculty pedagogical partnerships embrace a collaborative model for the design, exploration, affirmation, and revision of approaches to teaching and learning. These partnerships constitute reciprocal processes through which both faculty and students contribute equally, although not necessarily in the same ways, to curricular or pedagogical conceptualization, decision making, implementation, investigation, or analysis (Cook-Sather, Bovill, & Felten, 2014, pp. 6-7). Drawing on their deep disciplinary knowledge and expertise, faculty members have the opportunity to analyze and articulate their pedagogical rationales in dialogue with students who are not currently enrolled in their courses but who have extensive experience with a range of teaching and learning approaches. Brought together, faculty and student perspectives inform the development of more inclusive and responsive curricular and pedagogical practices. 

Students and faculty at Bryn Mawr College describe their experiences collaborating on Teaching and Learning Initiative student voice projects. The video features Sophia Abbot, Roselyn Appenteng, James Battat, Hayley Burke, Alison Cook-Sather, Huipu Li, David Ross, and Alicia Walker.

Two Examples of Partnership:

(1) At Lafayette in Spring 2016, a student sat in on all sessions of a course in algorithms in STEM. Because this transitional and core course in the curriculum has become a significant obstacle for students en route to the major, the professor took a new problem-based learning (PBL) approach and wanted to assess the strengths and weaknesses in real-time with the assistance of the student partner. Through weekly feedback (both in writing and in one-on-one meetings) and a mid-semester student-to-student assessment, the faculty member was able to make substantial adjustments to his PBL implementation and to other unrelated pedagogical choices he had made. Of particular note is the strides made to set a more inclusive atmosphere in a course that is typically unwelcoming to students who are not white males. Through these efforts, the student partner felt empowered and valued for his innate understanding of the teaching and learning enterprise and the values and motives of his classmates.

(2) At Haverford in Spring 2014, three students who had been enrolled in a first-semester organic chemistry course in Fall 2013 participated in a student-led revision of that course. In collaboration with the faculty member who taught the course, they identified seven different themes, identified “needs” within each theme, and brainstormed “actions” to meet these needs. In an essay the professor and the three students wrote about the experience (Charkoudian et al., 2014), the professor explained that she felt a newfound clarity of purpose and a deeper connection with her own students based on the collaboration she experienced with her student partners, and she “consciously created an environment of pedagogical transparency” in which students enrolled n her course could come to her with “continual feedback and suggestions to make the course stronger.” The student partners wrote about how they deepened their content knowledge, felt more connected to the discipline of chemistry itself, increased their sense of responsibility as students, and developed teaching as well as learning skills.