Engaging students as partners in learning and teaching: a guide for faculty
This book written by Alison Cook-Sather, Catherine Bovill and Peter Felten is an invaluable guide for everybody who wishes to develop student-faculty partnership in higher education institutions. Student-faculty partnership is a relatively new concept that recently has gained much popularity in the US and internationally. The authors of Engaging Students as Partners in Learning and teaching: A Guide for Faculty offer theoretical framework for developing such partnerships combined with very practical guidelines for those interested in developing small or large scale partnerships between faculty and students. The authors do an exceptional job of combining theory with practice, grounding their ideas on evidence-based pedagogy, while offering many practical examples for those who are thinking of developing small-scale partnerships with students in their courses or large-scale partnerships on the departmental and university levels.
Starting with the basic question of how faculty together with students can deepen learning, Cook-Sather, Bovill and Felten offer a compelling analysis of the nature of student-faculty partnerships, the reasons for faculty and for students to embark on such endeavor, and the essential elements for such partnership to be successful. When defining partnership, the authors maintain that there are three important principles to be taken into account: respect, reciprocity and responsibility. All of these basic characteristics of successful partnership set faculty and students up for developing trusting and respectful relationships, for sharing not only power, but also risks and responsibilities for learning.
Cook-Sather, Bovill, and Felten also recognize the challenges that this type of partnership between faculty and students faces serious challenges in the higher education system in the US and internationally. One of the most interesting claims they make is that such partnership destabilizes the consumerist model of higher education, in which students assume passive role in their process of education being on the receiving side of the expertise that faculty share with them. Unlike this model, faculty-student partnership allows students to have an active role in this process, designing not only what but also how they wish to learn. Such a change in students’ role promotes student engagement resulting in improved learning.
In various chapters of the book, the authors provide the definition, as well as guiding principles of student-faculty partnerships; answer questions and address concerns of the faculty who might wish to initiate a partnership of this kind; offer various examples of small and large-scale partnerships based on the needs, as well as resources available for individual faculty and for administrators, departments and universities; and detailed guidelines, combined with many examples, for initiating successful student-faculty partnerships on course design, curriculum development and pedagogy.