In a recent blog post, the three inaugural Center for Engaged Learning (CEL) Student Scholars responded to an invitation to document their experiences engaging in CEL’s 2021-2023 research seminar, Re-Examining Conditions for Meaningful Learning Experiences. During their preparation for the seminar, students identified research topics that they were interested in exploring in greater depth alongside seminar participants and subsequently read and reviewed articles pertaining to their specific topics to gain some level of understanding about the topic prior to beginning work with their assigned group. The students were then embedded with a research group during the seminar to help give a student perspective to the research topics explored during the seminar and to learn more about their topics.

A common theme that emerged from the Student Scholars’ blog post was a feeling of imposter syndrome. However, as we learned when we asked for feedback on the seminar, the participants in the seminar found great value in the student voice on projects. One participant wrote, “I found it very useful to have a student scholar available to guide, question, and push our team.”  A participant from another group shared, “Our group’s conversations with the student scholars proved to be pivotal in the development of our research project. …  I find it remarkable that student scholars were able to play such a significant role in the development of our research project, given the many constraints in our current situation.”

In addition to helping directly with the research projects, the student voice was also helpful for faculty and staff to better understand their research from the student perspective (which wasn’t always the same as the faculty perception). For example, one participant wrote, “She really helped us to think about how students might think about and value the topic of reflection, how students may perceive institution values/messaging (sometimes not as intended!), and more.” Similarly, another research participant said, “Her insights were very mature and grew more confident and insightful over time. I appreciated her honesty, her reflection of how students hear messages vs. how we think we are communicating.”

From the seminar participants, one concern that was identified was that some did not know what to expect from the student scholars and had little experience in working with undergraduate students in this capacity. However, for some it was consistent with their previous work. One participant wrote, “It was similar in that in those experiences I try to create situations in which students are involved not just in the mechanics of the research (data collection, for instance), but where they are also included in discussions and decisions about research design, to the extent possible.” Even those who had little to no experience found the benefits of working with the student scholars, as one participant commented, “I’ve done some research and writing with graduate students, but I haven’t really worked with undergraduate students in this way. Since I don’t teach undergraduate students, I hadn’t thought about working with them (but now I will!).”

Therefore, for future work with student scholars or for those thinking about beginning student partnership it might be useful to talk with students and seminar participants about what is known in student-partnership and is thought to lead to best outcomes. For example, in the seminal book on partnership written by Cook-Sather et al. (2014), they identified three guiding principles of respect, reciprocity, and responsibility as being important. This lens could be crucial to building these relationships, which have a short time to form. Several of the supplemental resources from Pedagogical Partnerships: A How-To Guide for Faculty, Students, and Academic Developers in Higher Education also could be adapted to facilitate partner introductions and to prepare both students and faculty/staff partners for these collaborations.

A final note that a participant wrote couldn’t better sum up the opportunity to work with students: “Really view the student scholars as scholars, just like we are. They have important perspectives, and are clearly well-trained/oriented to the mission of the work.”


Cook-Sather, Alison, Cathy Bovill, and Peter Felten. 2014. Engaging Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching: A Guide for Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Eric Hall is a professor of exercise science at Elon University and served as the inaugural CEL Senior Scholar.

Buffie Longmire-Avital, associate professor of psychology and coordinator of African and African-American studies at Elon University, was the 2018-2020 Center for Engaged Learning Scholar.

Jessie L. Moore directs the Center for Engaged Learning and is a professor of professional writing & rhetoric. Drs. Hall, Longmire-Avital, and Moore co-lead the 2020-2023 research seminar on (Re)Examining Conditions for Meaningful Learning Experiences.

How to Cite this Post

Hall, Eric, Buffie Longmire-Avital, and Jessie L. Moore. (2021, September 7). Including Students in Multi-Institutional Scholarship of Teaching and Learning [Blog Post]. Retrieved from