Reflections on the benefits of student-faculty partnerships
by Lucia Maribel Craige, Erin Jenkins, and Ketevan Kupatadze
In this blog post we continue reflecting on our experience with student-faculty partnership on course (re)design. Here we will be responding to two reflective questions:
- Student-faculty partnership is a relatively new concept for faculty and for students. Those of us who engage in it are experimenting with something that is new and hasn’t become yet the culture of our university. In your opinion, what is the most valuable aspect of student-faculty partnership?
- Since you won’t be taking the course that you co-developed with your faculty partner, was there an educational benefit for you in this partnership? What other (if any) benefit(s) was (were) there?
Valuable Aspects of Student-Faculty Partnership
Student-faculty partnership helps foster a deeper relationship between students and faculty on subjects that both parties share an interest in. I worked with a Spanish course and I felt that through helping my professor design the course, I was not only learning more about the material, but also was becoming closer with my professor.
Student-faculty partnership offers students insight into the process of selecting texts and class assignments, which is invaluable when it comes to understanding and enjoying the undergraduate experience. Additionally, partnering with students to redesign a course is likely to produce a class that future students will enjoy taking. Students are not always the best judges when it comes to deciding what is best for their own academic success; however, peers have a unique advantage of understanding the wants and needs of a fellow student while still being able to make objective decisions to better the class academically. Therefore, student input in a class redesign can make the class more enjoyable and more targeted to the undergraduate experience as it stands today and gives greater insight into the care taken in selecting assignments.
Out of many benefits, I would say that the human experience of developing relationships with students was the most valuable. I would argue that the relationship based on trust and respect, as well as one that was based on shared responsibility, enhanced both students’ and faculty’s teaching and learning. It helped us see the teaching and learning process as one that was enjoyable, meaningful, and thought provoking.
On the other hand, partnerships with students who were not prepared to take on the responsibility have been unsuccessful, and I have felt the need to stop those partnerships.
Educational Benefits of Student-Faculty Partnership
There was an educational benefit to this partnership and that was due to having to find different articles and passages of text. Through this process, I learned new information on the topics and broadened my perspectives and knowledge on current events.
I definitely benefitted from hearing the faculty perspective on how and why certain assignments/texts are selected (see above for further elaboration). I also benefitted from the knowledge that some faculty want to hear student opinions on the kinds of assignments and readings given in a course. It is empowering as a student to know that your input is being heard and valued by a faculty member, especially when far too often students feel powerless to challenge an assignment or reading they feel is unfair. Students have much to learn from faculty, but faculty also have much to learn from students. The face of undergraduate education is constantly evolving, and there is no better way to understand and adjust to the current needs of this generation than valuing and incorporating their input into classes.
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.