In a recent issue of the International Journal of Students as Partners (IJSaP), the editorial team argued that “valuing a wider range of genres” (Cook-Sather, Healey, and Matthews 2022) in IJSaP can draw more student authors to student-as-partners scholarship. They focus on “genres that value the unique and subjective perspective of individuals” because these genres contain “new forms of knowledge creation” (3). 

A few issues later, IJSaP offered one version of such a valuing: “The Art of Partnership: Expanding Representations and Interpretations.” 

Our perspective as student partners (Emily and Kellie) and a faculty member (Michael) supports the continued inclusion of art as a genre for pedagogical partnership output. We offer our art in this blog post. 

Art as an Output of Our Partnership 

Michael and Kellie partnered with two additional students for over a year on redesigning an English senior capstone course. Drawing from scholarship on designing and implementing capstone courses, such as Elon’s Statement on Capstone Experiences, we developed course objectives and “signature work” (Kinzie 2018). 

Michael taught this redesigned course. Kellie created art projects that showcased our partnership to internal and external audiences. Emily previously partnered with Michael on a project and, following that work, served as a consultant with future partnerships between Michael and students. 

How We Think About Art 

Art is the expression or application of creativity and/or imagination. The result of an artistic work can take many forms, but what makes something art, true artistic expression, is the beauty, emotion, or conceptual idea behind the work. 

Additionally, art sparks emotional responses or desires to act by appealing to the more abstract aspects of human consciousness. Art does not explicitly state what someone should do; however, engaging with art creates connections between the body and mind through the senses. It can make people feel, and feeling can spark new ways of thinking and even action. 

Etymologically, genre connects with gender. Both words are defined with terms like kind, sort, and style. Both are fluid, allowing innovation. Innovation demands we do not hold onto established ways of researching and “genre-ing”.   

Now, to Kellie’s art! 

Graphic with a headline of people participating in a pedagogical collaboration. Two blue and yellow message bubbles coming from two caricatures at the bottom left of the graphic.

Figure 1: Kellie developed a poster with a Spanish translation of an English quote about students-as-partners. This poster was designed to connect with the Spanish-speaking population on our campus. Translated back to English, the text’s title reads “Participate in a Pedagogical Partnership.” The body text reads, “Partnerships between teachers and students have ‘the potential . . . to affirm and empower all those involved and to support their development into versions of the selves they want to be’” (Cook-Sather, Bahti, and Ntem 2019). 

In addition to this poster, which Kellie created in Spanish and English, Kellie designed a one-page brochure that introduces our audience to pedagogical partnerships at our university, intentionally seeking to advertise for more student and faculty involvement. See figure 2, below. 

Graphic with six boxes containing University of North Georgia's logo, advertising to be a part of a pedagogical partnership. Graphic also includes a photo of six students walking away from a college building talking amongst themselves.

Figure 2: Kellie created a digital brochure with visual and alphabetic text to communicate our work to internal audiences. (Cook-Sather, Bahti, and Ntem 2019). 

These pieces use visual and textual elements to convey complex information to various audiences. Like a linear, alphabetic argument, Kellie rhetorically shaped her art through her choice of color scheme, medium, layout, and the inclusion of alphabetic text to accompany the visuals. 

Kellie explains her decisions behind figure 2: 

The purpose of [this work] is to express the conceptual ideals of my team with the hope that our ideas in curriculum redesign and pedagogical partnerships created a response in our readers—not one of beauty or emotion but one sparking a conversation about the need for change in higher education and new ways to achieve education goals . . . We wanted a visual way of expressing our ideas, hoping to encourage action.

The Continued Inclusion of Art in Pedagogical Partnership Scholarship 

We celebrate our colleagues who create art as an output of partnership. For example, Lucy Mercer-Mapstone and Sophia Abbot’s (2020) open access collection provides “glorious graphic illustration” (11), which, according to Mercer-Mapstone and Abbot, responds to their “call to bend or break traditional academic molds” (11). 

Using existing work like this as a platform, let’s continue the beautiful work of expanding genres for more readers, more authors, and more capacity building. 

Questions for Next Steps 

These questions pair reflection and action and point toward the next steps: 

  • How might art help you engage more deeply with the visceral feelings you experienced while in partnership? We change through partnerships. We invite you to reflect, in whatever genre works for you, on how art might capture that change in a meaningfully different way than linear alphabetic print.       
  • How might you describe to your community that art is a legitimate form of knowledge making and capacity building? Do you need to add a written artistic statement to quell potential concerns about the rigors of art? We invite you to consider how your various audiences might approach your art. 

By pairing reflection and action, we can open more space for more voices and more art on pedagogical partnerships.   


Center for Engaged Learning. 2020. Elon Statement on Capstone Experiences. Retrieved from

Cook-Sather, Alison, Melanie Bahti, and Anita Ntem. 2019. Pedagogical Partnerships: A How-To Guide for Faculty, Students, and Academic Developers in Higher Education. Elon, NC: Elon University Center for Engaged Learning.

Cook-Sather, Alison, Mick Healey, and Kelly E. Matthews. 2021. “Recognizing Students’ Expertise and Insights in Expanding Forms of Academic Writing and Publishing about Learning and Teaching.” International Journal for Students As Partners 5 (1):1-7.

Cook-Sather, Alison, Sarah Elizabeth Slates, Nandeeta Bala, Adan Amer, Holly Anthony, Chris Cachia, Alice Cassidy, et al. 2022. “The Art of Partnership: Expanding Representations and Interpretations”. International Journal for Students As Partners 6 (2):135-52.

Kinzie, Jillian. 2018. “Assessing Quality and Equity: Observations about the State of Signature Work.” Peer Review 20 (2): 29-31. 

Mercer-Mapstone, Lucy, and Sophia Abbot. 2020. The Power of Partnership: Students, Staff, and Faculty Revolutionizing Higher Education. Elon, NC: Elon University Center for Engaged Learning.

Emily Pridgen is an alumna of the University of North Georgia.

Kellie Keeling is alumna of the University of North Georgia.

J. Michael Rifenburg is a professor of English at the University of North Georgia.

How to Cite This Post

Pridgen, Emily, Kellie Keeling, and J. Michael Rifenburg. 2023. “Art in Pedagogical Partnership Scholarship.” Center for Engaged Learning (blog), Elon University. March 28, 2023.