In this blog I will continue reflecting on the various ways in which the student-faculty partnership model could challenge or simply take a different approach towards the established higher education system. Here I focus on Students-as-Partner’s emphasis on the open and unpredictable process of teaching and learning rather than the predetermined teaching and learning goals and outcomes. There seems to exist a slight disconnect between the policies at the institutional as well as supra-institutional levels that aim to assure the quality and standards of education through continuous assessment and the pedagogical philosophy rooted in the principles of partnership between students and educators. Two possible solutions to such disconnect seem to be a) the acceptance of education as at times an unpredictable and changeable process, and b) the development of tools and resources that would help us assess or evaluate the learning that happens through partnership.

In “A Model of Active Student Participation in Curriculum Design: Exploring Desirability and Possibility,” Bovill and Bulley (2011) state that “our systems of quality assurance require courses to be validated and reviewed on the basis of clear intended learning outcomes and assessments” (p. 6). In the same vein, Healey, Flint and Harrington (2014) recognize the important role of the institutions and professional organizations that set the guidelines and standards for educational goals and outcomes. Without a doubt, our focus on teaching and learning goals and outcomes and their assessment has a long-standing tradition and will be incredibly hard and, more importantly, counterproductive to discard. But at the same time, the advocates of student-faculty partnership in teaching and leaning view this practice as a process rather than as a goal and outcomes-driven activity and, as such, one that has the potential to dramatically transform the purpose and structure of higher education that is largely based on delivering results in the form of outcomes through assessment (Healey et al., 2014).  Healey et al. maintain that unlike the current model that is end-oriented, the student-faculty partnership is pedagogy that is “(radically) open to and creating possibilities for discovering and learning something that cannot be known beforehand”(2014, p. 9).

This opinion is also shared by Matthews (2016) who acknowledges that SaP model is inherently process-oriented rather than outcomes-driven (p. 3). She maintains that the language of student engagement has been and remains outcomes focused, while Students as Partners is process and values oriented (p. 3). The question then is: how does one engage in student-faculty partnership, opening up to the possibility of not knowing the end-point of teaching and learning whether in a specific course, set of courses or an entire curriculum and, simultaneously, continue assessing student learning to ensure that the standards set by their institution or professional organization(s) are met?

To answer these questions, several studies have pointed out that we might, and even should, be having a conversation on the ways to incorporate assessment in the student-faculty partnership process (Cook-Sather et al. 2014; Healey et al. 2014;). Healey et al suggest that to address this issue we might “look for opportunities for employing partnership as a way of responding to other influential discourses; use the concept and practice of partnership to meet the requirements” set out by our institutions and/or professional organizations; and “consider how reward and recognition for partnership may be developed” (p. 58). Cook-Sather et al., on their part, suggest that assessment should be also co-envisioned and co-developed by faculty and students as partners, since it is an integral part of teaching and learning process (p. 188). The authors offer various examples: involvement of students in the design of course learning goals and outcomes, such as inviting students to develop course goals either in the beginning or the end of the term; inviting them to reflect on their end of course feedback; involving them in the process itself of developing assignment, course, or curriculum assessment such as end-of-term course evaluation questionnaires and course assessment tools while the course is in progress; offering students an opportunity to reflect on their learning throughout the course; working with students outside the class setting to assess learning across courses, etc.

This conversation about the ways to partner with students on assessment as a valued part of the teaching and learning process is new and ongoing. It is one of the areas that needs most attention as we move towards a more egalitarian educational model in which we – faculty and students – see each other as partners and collaborators. I would be curious to know of different ways one could partner with students to teach, while simultaneously making sure that the educational standards are met through continuous process of assessing instructors’ and students’ teaching and learning goals.


  • Bovill, C., and Bulley, C.J. (2011) A model of active student participation in curriculum design: exploring desirability and possibility. In Rust, C. (ed.) Improving Student Learning (ISL) 18: Global Theories and Local Practices: Institutional, Disciplinary and Cultural Variations. Series: Improving Student Learning (18). Oxford Brookes University: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development: Oxford, pp. 176-188. ISBN 9781873576809
  • Cook-Sather, A., Bovill, C., and Felten, P. (2014). Engaging students as partners in learning and teaching: a guide for faculty. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.
  • Healey, M., Flint, A., & Harrington, K. (2014). Engagement through partnership: Students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. York: Higher Education Academy. Retrieved from
  • Matthews, K. E. (2016). Students as partners as the future of student engagement. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 1(1) 1-5. Retrieved from

Ketevan Kupatadze, Senior Lecturer in Spanish in the Department of World Languages and Cultures, is the 2017-2019 Center for Engaged Learning Scholar. Dr. Kupatadze’s CEL Scholar project focuses on student-faculty partnerships.

How to cite this post:

Kupatadze, Ketevan. 2017, October 10. Process-Driven Model of Education. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from