book cover for Promoting Equity and Justice through Pedagogical Partnership

As I have transitioned out of my undergraduate institution and into an elite graduate school, I have increasingly seen and experienced first-hand the confidence-building and harm-redressing potential of pedagogical partnership. When I was an undergraduate at Haverford College, I participated in two student-faculty pedagogical partnerships and in a research partnership with Alison Cook-Sather, resulting in three years of partnership experience. My experience is an example of what Alise de Bie, Beth Marquis, Alison, and I discuss in Promoting Equity and Justice through Pedagogical Partnership. In the book we explore how student-faculty partnerships can help heal the epistemic, ontological, and affective harms that higher education institutions inflict on students with marginalized identities. My own story is an example of the long-term impact of this partnership work.

The impact of my experience with pedagogical partnership has extended beyond my graduation from Haverford College and has persisted as I navigate through my graduate school journey at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education. From developing relationships with new advisers to forming my own research agenda, I have found that the student-faculty partnerships I participated in have facilitated a transition that otherwise might have been much more difficult. I draw on the heightened awareness of the harms inflicted by the higher education system, an increased confidence in my scholarly voice, and a deepened knowledge of how to speak my truth within academic spaces that I gained through participating in pedagogical partnership as an undergraduate. I also feel more prepared for this next stage in my academic life and ready to tackle different obstacles.

Becoming aware of the epistemic, ontological, and affective violence that the higher education system consistently inflicts on students with marginalized identities was a valuable first step in my academic career. Bryn Mawr and Haverford College’s Students as Learners and Teachers partnership program includes weekly meetings where student consultants and Alison meet to discuss their experiences as pedagogical partners to faculty across the two campuses. In these spaces students talk honestly with each other about experiences they have had, both within partnership but also in their general academic experiences. When I engaged in my first pedagogical partnership as an undergraduate sophomore, listening to upper-class students express similar sentiments and obstacles they experienced being a student of color helped me identify that my experiences were not unique or conditional on my individual being. In this legitimizing space, I began seeing how affective and epistemic harms, such as feeling excluded from certain campus activities or being silenced within class discussion, manifested beyond my individual experience and further developed the vocabulary needed to talk about my experiences.

Learning this language was a key first step toward gaining more confidence in my scholarly voice. Through my research partnership with Alison, I was introduced to the research realm as an undergraduate sophomore, which helped me see myself within this knowledge production space. From co-authoring a book chapter with Alise, Beth, and Alison to now the publication of Promoting Equity and Justice through Pedagogical Partnership, being immersed in research as not an assistant but rather as a partner helped me recognize my epistemological contributions to our work. Even small things like being included at every research meeting or being invited to speak on the work during class discussions helped me develop a more confident sense of voice. This confidence has manifested in a variety of ways, from sharing my ideas on existing research projects with my advisers to submitting journal articles and presentation proposals, even in my first year of doctoral study. This is then related to another long-term benefit of student-faculty partnership I have experienced: not being afraid of speaking out on issues that matter to me and feeling comfortable doing so.

 Student-faculty partnerships make space for students by privileging their educational expertise as they advise their faculty partners on inclusive and equitable classroom instruction. When I first began this work, it was hard to communicate critiques to faculty due to the power imbalance. However, as I eased into being a pedagogical partner, I felt more comfortable sharing my thoughts and knowing that I did so out of the care I have for other students as well as for my faculty partner. Knowing that critique is coming from a place of care and not malice helped me speak my truth, and I take this into my current work as a graduate student. Especially because graduate school faculty and student relationships are built on treating each other as colleagues instead of as teacher-student, already having practice with a similar dynamic through student-faculty partnerships as an undergraduate student has eased my transition into this space and this new kind of educational relationship. It has been important for me to seek mentors who have similar dynamics in their advising models and that welcome being challenged for the good of the communities we are serving. I have been fortunate to continue building these kinds of relationships with my new advisers, and I know that they have valued my epistemological, ontological, and affective contributions in their practice as well.

While I am only a year out of my undergraduate student-faculty partnerships, I am hopeful that the underlying impacts of confidence-building and redressing epistemic, ontological, and affective harms will last long beyond my time in the partnerships themselves. Although student-faculty partnerships are only one of many factors that have increased my confidence in being an academic, they have contributed to developing my own politics and shaped what I value in mentorships, pedagogy, and research.

Promoting Equity and Justice through Pedagogical Partnership is available through the Series on Engaged Learning and Teaching from Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning and Stylus Publishing.

Leslie Patricia Luqueño is a doctoral student at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education and a co-author of Promoting Equity and Justice through Pedagogical Partnership.

How to Cite this Post

Luqueño, Leslie Patricia. 2021, June 14. “Learning to Honor My Own Epistemology: The Long-Term Effects of Student-Faculty Partnerships” [Blog Post]. Retrieved from