Student-Staff Partnership Symposium

Towards meaningful partnerships: student-staff collaborations to enhance learning and teaching across the disciplines


The symposium took place on 16 September 2019.

The aim of the symposium was to draw together staff and students to explore theoretical perspectives on and practical examples of developing student-staff partnerships in different disciplinary contexts.


The symposium focused on the following themes:

  • Students as partners in enhancing learning, teaching and assessment
  • Collaborative approaches to curriculum design and review
  • Students as co-enquires in higher education research
  • Student-staff partnerships as transformative experiences
  • Benefits and challenges of student-staff partnerships
  • Embedding student-staff partnership approaches at institutional level

Keynote speakers

Mick Healey and Ruth Healey, Healey HE Consultants

Engaging Students and Staff in Learning and Teaching Partnerships

Universities need to move towards creating inclusive scholarly knowledge-building communities. … The notion of inclusive scholarly knowledge-building communities invites us to consider new ideas about who the scholars are in universities and how they might work in partnership. (Brew 2007, 4)

Ways of engaging students in higher education as partners in learning and teaching is arguably one of the most important issues facing higher education in the 21st Century. Partnership is essentially a process for engaging students, though not all engagement involves partnership. It is a way of doing things, rather than an outcome in itself. In this interactive session we will explore four ways in which students may be engaged as partners through: a) Learning, teaching and assessment; b) Subject-based research and inquiry; c) Scholarship of teaching and learning; and d) Curriculum design and pedagogic advice and consultancy. We will draw on numerous mini case studies from different parts of the world and discuss the principles and values which should underpin student-staff partnerships.


We have presented together on the topic of students as partners many times, including at Bath Spa, Cardiff, Delft (Netherlands), Griffith (Australia), Hong Kong Baptist, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Open University, Prince Edward Island (Canada), Teesside, and TU Dublin (Republic of Ireland).

Mick Healey is an HE Consultant and Researcher and Emeritus Professor at the University of Gloucestershire, UK.  Until 2010 he was Director of the Centre for Active Learning, a nationally funded Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.  He is The Humboldt Distinguished Scholar in Research-Based Learning at McMaster University, Canada and Visiting Fellow at University of Queensland.  He was one of the first people in the UK to be awarded a National Teaching Fellowship and to be made a Principal Fellow of the HE Academy.  He received a SEDA@20 Legacy Award for Disciplinary Development in 2013 and two years later he received the Distinguished Service Award from the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.  Mick is an experienced presenter.  Since 1995 he has given over 500 educational presentations in more than 25 different countries.  He has written and edited over 200 papers, chapters, books and guides on various aspects of teaching and learning in HE, and has over 8,500 citations.  He was co-editor of the International Journal for Academic Development (2010-13) and is currently inaugural Senior Editor of the International Journal for Students as Partners.  He is often asked to act as an advisor to projects, universities and governments on aspects of teaching and learning, including the Canadian Federal Government and the League of European Research Universities. 

Dr Ruth Healey is Associate Professor in Higher Education at the University of Chester, UK where she has been since 2009.  In 2016, she also joined Healey HE Consultants. She has actively researched into learning and teaching issues since 2004.  Her pedagogic research interests include teaching for social transformations, debates, ethics, and students as partners.  Ruth has written over 30 pedagogic articles. Her work has been cited over 275 times. Ruth’s article about the ‘power of debate’ was short-listed for the Journal of Geography in Higher Education (JGHE) Award for Promoting Excellence in Teaching and Learning 2012-13.  In 2012 she chaired the International Collaborative Writing Group (ICWG) on practicing the scholarship of teaching and learning in an ethical manner at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSoTL) conference in Canada.  She became a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) in 2014 and in 2017 was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship (NTF).  In 2018 she was a Group Leader at the International Students as Partners Institute at McMaster University and chaired the ICWG on pedagogic partnerships and student well-being at the International Network for Learning and Teaching Geography in Higher Education (INLT) conference in Quebec, Canada.  She is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Geography in Higher Education (2009-) and is one of the inaugural Editors of the International Journal for Students as Partners (2016-). She is Chair of the Higher Education Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society.

Alison Cook-Sather, Mary Katharine Woodworth Professor of Education, Bryn Mawr College, and Director, Teaching and Learning Institute, Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges, USA

Naming and Navigating Complexities: The Challenges of Inclusion and Power Dynamics in Planning for, Participating in, and Publishing about Partnership [Virtual Keynote]

Since the advent of pedagogical partnerships, those involved have worked both to name and to navigate the complexities of such a countercultural practice. In this keynote, I will focus the particular challenges of striving for inclusion and attending to power dynamics in planning for, participating in, and publishing about partnership. I will review discussions of these challenges in the literature and from the perspectives of staff and student partners; invite participants in the symposium to wrestle actively with these challenges as they manifest in their own partnership work; and offer recommendations regarding ways to prepare for, engage in, and write about partnerships that strive to be inclusive and attentive to power dynamics.


Alison Cook-Sather is Mary Katharine Woodworth Professor of Education at Bryn Mawr College and Director of the Teaching and Learning Institute at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges. Supported by grants from the Ford Foundation, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Dr. Cook-Sather has developed internationally recognized programs that position students as pedagogical consultants to prospective secondary teachers and to practicing college faculty members. She has published over 100 articles and book chapters and given as many keynote addresses, other invited presentations, and papers at refereed conferences in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Ireland, Italy, Grenada, Japan, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, and throughout the United States. She has authored or co-authored six books including Student-Faculty Pedagogical Partnerships in the Classroom and Curriculum: A How-To Guide for Faculty, Students, and Academic Developers in Higher Education (with Melanie Bahti and Anita Ntem, Elon University Center for Engaged Learning Open Access Series, forthcoming), Promoting Equity and Inclusion through Pedagogical Partnership (with Elizabeth Marquis, Alise de Bie, and Leslie Luqueño, forthcoming), and Engaging Students as Partners in Learning & Teaching: A Guide for Faculty (with Catherine Bovill and Peter Felten, Jossey-Bass, 2014). She is also founding editor of Teaching and Learning Together in Higher Education and founding co-editor of International Journal for Students as Partners.


9.00 - 9.30

Tea / coffee / registration

9.30 – 9.45 LTE


Nadya Yakovchuk, University of Surrey, UK

Ian Kinchin, University of Surrey, UK

Sam Dvorakova, University of Edinburgh, UK

9.45 – 11.00


PLENARY 1: Mick Healey (Healey HE Consultants, UK) and Ruth Healey (University of Chester, UK)

Engaging students and staff in learning and teaching partnerships

11.00 - 11.15

Tea / coffee

11.15 – 11.45




Concurrent sessions 1:

  1. Moonisah Usman and Jennifer Fraser (University of Westminster, UK)

Co-creating partnership: developing principles to support meaningful partnerships at the University of Westminster

  1. Amanda Millmore and Krissy Hiu (University of Reading, UK)

Embedding employability through collaborative curriculum design in law

  1. Moira Maguire, Maria Maguire, Linda Murphy, Catherine Staunton, Nicole Byrne, Brianain Johnson, Angelina Jong, Aisling Munster, Jack Ryan, Peter Toplis and Johanna Young (Dundalk Institute of Technology, Ireland)

Partners in employability: a student-staff collaboration to develop an accredited award to support student engagement

11.50 - 12.20




Concurrent sessions 2:

  1. Jillian Birad, Sophie Allen, Julia Millette and Nigel Page (Kingston University, UK); Selina Anderson and Sheelagh Heugh (London Metropolitan University, UK)

Student and staff narratives of the outcomes and experiences of institutional and cross-institutional student-staff research partnerships

  1. Daisy Haywood, Lewis Jerrom, Rachel Stead and Debbie Gooch (University of Surrey, UK)

Students as co-creators of visual mnemonics using LEGO: an evaluation of a Psychology revision session using an adapted Lego® Serious Play® (LSP) methodology

  1. Catherine Stephen, Catherine Batson, Adam Hill, Ellie Roberts and Sarah Surget (University of Surrey, UK)

Student Curator Project: encouraging and embracing inclusivity and diversity in partnership with our students

12.25 – 12.55




Concurrent sessions 3:

  1. Colin Johnson, Christine Murphy, Ryan Ward and Nadira Hendarta (University of Hull, UK)

A pilot student/staff partnership scheme… the journey so far

  1. Chris Ribchester, Faye Davies and Emily Fisher (University of Derby, UK)

Reflections on the evolution and impact of a longstanding student-staff collaborative research scheme

  1. Kirsten Hardie (Arts University Bournemouth, UK)

Challenges and risks: for the love of learning – for the love of graphics

12.55 – 13.40


13.40 – 14.10




Concurrent sessions 4

  1. Rachel Maunder (University of Northampton, UK)

Constructing partnerships: is the ‘how’ more important that the ‘what’? (workshop)

  1. Samantha Clarkson and Lucy Bamwo (University of Hertfordshire, UK)

The roller coaster of innovation: a reflection on implementing the Guided Learner Journey

  1. Jane Forman, Sabrina Roman, Laura Grinder, Ayesha Jeary and Louise Jolly (Kingston University and St Georges, University of London, UK); Anne Preston (University College London, UK)

Students as decision makers in midwifery student recruitment processes

14:15 – 15:00


PLENARY 2: Alison Cook-Sather (Bryn Mawr College, USA)

Naming and navigating complexities: the challenges of inclusion and power dynamics in planning for, participating in, and publishing about partnership (virtual keynote)

15.05 – 15.35




Concurrent sessions 5

  1. Irina Niculescu and Roger Rees (University of Surrey, UK)

Embedding student-staff partnerships at an institutional level: the EduInterns approach

  1. Marianne Rial, Halimah Bakare and Antinda Toh (University of Hertfordshire, UK)

Demystifying the academic experience: supporting students in transition and throughout a programme of study

  1. Amanda Millmore, William Page and Alicia Peña Bizama (University of Reading, UK)

Life Tools for Law students: a collaboration

15.35 – 15:45

Tea / coffee

15:45 – 17.00


PLENARY 3: Mick Healey and Ruth Healey

Liquid café

Very good variety of events that was inclusive equally of students and staff


Fabulous day, well-attended by a diverse number of universities and discipline areas

Stag image

Really enjoyed the liquid cafe- very unique and really interactive for informal conversations

The University of Surrey campus