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Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in STEM
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in STEM

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1.3.2 Establishing the partnership

Staff-student partnerships confront long-established academic norms and the traditional image of higher education. Students need to be aware of the partnership agenda and prepared, trained and carefully guided to develop their participative roles in higher education research on teaching and learning (McConnell and Wisker, 2016).

There may be an initial discomfort and uncertainty when a partnership is formed due to the power or authority relationship between a student and an educator. It is vital to persist and promote integration and inclusion rather than marginalisation and exclusion of the student voice (Felten et al., 2013).

Werder et al. (2016) propose the use of a set of simple ground rules for the partnership or ‘conversational agreement’ to flatten the usual academic hierarchy, such as:

  • be respectful – listen patiently with the primary goal of understanding
  • be open – work to understand differences, not to erase them
  • be direct – say clearly what you expect from others and ask questions when you don’t understand
  • be present – resist technology; engage actively and contribute, but know that silence sometimes is all right too
  • be ethical – respect the human rights of all.

In the next section, you will learn about maintaining and sustaining the partnership with students.