TLTHE Special Issue on Partnerships as Experienced by Students

written by admin on May 16, 2019 in Doing EL and Engaged Learning and Student Voices and Student-Faculty Partnership with no comments

by Ketevan Kupatadze

In this post I focus on Teaching and Learning Together in Higher Education (TLTHE)’s recently published issue entirely dedicated to student perspectives on pedagogical partnerships. As student-faculty partnership becomes part of institutional teaching and learning cultures around the world, it is important to hear student voices on the experiences with, benefits, and even pitfalls of pedagogical partnerships. I was impressed to see that, for the vast majority of these students, one of the most cherished outcomes of partnership was the process of personal development and growth. While speaking about many other benefits, they seemed to uniformly agree that the centerpiece of their partnership experience was the development of self-awareness, of empathy, and of their humanity in general.

In “From Listening to Responding to Leading: Building Capacity through Four Pedagogical Partnerships,” Amaka Eze, student partner from Bryn Mawr College, says that throughout several partnership experiences, they have “come to see how deep listening, carefully modulated responding, and ultimately a kind of leadership informed by both have come to define the capacities [they] have developed through this work” (2019, 1). Reflecting on their role as a partner and the difficulties one might encounter in student-faculty partnership due to the differences in one’s expertise, as well as maturity and experience, they point out that their “focus was primarily directed on building a trusting relationship with my partner and working on the complex relational dynamics that emerged” (Eze 2019, 2). This attitude, as they later note, helped them become a more “dynamic and resilient listener” (Eze 2019, 2). Summarizing their experiences as student partner, Eze notes that it has taught them to be a better, more empathetic listener. In a word, the experience, they say, was that of growth (2019, 4).

Marcette Ohlwiler, student partner from Haverford College, starts out by saying that “academic stimulation and a new interest in pedagogy were not the most important aspects of [their time as a partner]. Instead, it was [their] personal development” (2019, 2). In “Where I Come From: Growth and Inclusion through Successive Pedagogical Partnerships,” Ohlwiler describes the process of transformation from a disengaged and passive student to one who was reflective, highly engaged and curious. Once they developed this drastically different attitude through partnership, their goal became to help other students do the same: “If students ever felt confused, frustrated, or disinterested,” Ohlwiler writes, “we would debrief after class to figure out why, and our pedagogical problem solving excited me and gave me confidence in the value of my insight” (2019, 2).  As a result of these experiences, Ohwiler notes that “as a student and person, I want to make this community better” (2019, 3).

In “How Participating in Pedagogical Partnership Helped Me grow as a Person and as a Student,” Carol Lee Diallo, student partner from Haverford College, also points out how pedagogical partnerships with faculty have made them a more thoughtful and considerate person because the experience constantly required them to think of ways to communicate their thoughts and give feedback to another person without offending them. Carol Lee Diallo writes:

“When speaking to my faculty partner, I had to think about how to frame comments, ideas, and questions in a way that was constructive, but not overly critical. While my positionality as a student allowed me to be aware of things that my faculty partner might not have seen, I had to remember that she also has equally valid knowledge and classroom experiences. So I had to make sure that I respected and validated her experience when I asked questions or offered suggestions. As a result, I began to think carefully about the words I use, and how I can frame my ideas to ensure I get my point across, while still being considerate of others.” (Diallo 2019, 1)

I frequently wonder whether education is about gaining knowledge and skills or a way of improving one’s personality, of becoming a better person. And although this question will continue to trouble me, this recent issue of TLTHE gave me hope that perhaps, if we use the right pedagogies and create supportive environments, we as educators could succeed in raising better people and ultimately come to view learning as an opportunity to raise more conscientious, ethical, and caring human beings.

The recent issue of TLTHE can be accessed here:


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. 2019, March 19. “TLTHE Special Issue on Partnerships as Experienced by Students?” [Blog Post]. Retrieved from