Engaging with Students as Partners

Priority 1 of the LSE 2030 Strategy commits to: 

-“work in partnership with our students to find innovative ways of learning, creating and collaborating, supporting them to better understand and shape our rapidly changing world.”   

-“support our students to innovate and create real change, within LSE and beyond.” 

Below you can read more about how we and our student partners work towards these commitments in practice.

An overview of student partnership

In Engaging Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching, Cook-Sather, Bovill and Felton define student partnership as: 

“a collaborative, reciprocal process through which all participants have the opportunity to contribute equally, although not necessarily in the same ways, to curricular or pedagogical conceptualisation, decision making, implementation, investigation or analysis” (p.6-7). 

Instead of offering a prescriptive definition of partnership, Healey, Flint and Harrington consider partnerships to be based on the following values: authenticity, inclusivity, reciprocity, empowerment, trust, challenge, community & responsibility. They note that: 

“partnership within learning and teaching is understood as highly contextual and influenced by many factors, including the experiences and expertise of partners involved, the culture and history of the setting for partnership (e.g. the course, department, institution, students’ union) and the wider social and political context of higher education” (p.14).  

Student partnership is part of a continuum of student engagement that encompasses a range of different ways staff and students can work together. These forms of collaboration may be appropriate for different projects, or at different stages of a project. 

Partnerships can occur in a variety of settings: 

  • Within the classroom or through extra-curricular activities 

  • Between staff and students; or between students and their peers 

  • Part of specific projects or as an approach to existing forms of student engagement. 

The case for engaging students as partners

In their Systematic Literature Review of Students as Partners in Higher Education Mercer-Mapstone et al. identify that students who participated in partnership experienced many positive outcomes, including increased: 

  • Motivation for learning 
  • Confidence as a student 
  • Meta-cognitive learning and awareness 
  • Relationships with staff and their peers 
  • Sense of belonging to a university community 

It also identifies positive outcomes for staff, including: 

  • Enhanced relationships or trust 
  • Development of new or better teaching or curriculum materials 
  • Increased understanding of students’ experiences
  • New beliefs about teaching and learning that enhance existing practices
  • A positive shift in power dynamics 

The Framework for Student Engagement Through Partnership, developed by AdvanceHE also identifies institutional benefits for engaging in partnership, including the potential to increase students’ confidence that they are being given opportunities to provide feedback on their course and confidence that their opinions are being valued and acted upon. 

Ways of engaging students as partners

The ways of engaging students as partners will vary according to role, location and context, but may include: 

  • Working with students to design and develop curricula (e.g. co-creation and co-evaluation of courses; curating reading lists)
  • Empowering students through learning and research activities 
  • Partnership approaches to assessment and feedback
  • Collaborating with students to solve problems, make decisions and deliver new initiatives
  • Meaningfully engaging with Student Academic Representatives 
  • Considering and implementing (where appropriate) the outputs of School-wide partnership initiatives: findings and recommendations from LSE Change Makers and insights from the Student Education Panel 

Cook-Sather, Bovill & Felten (2014) offer a series of practical tips and strategies for initiating partnerships that include:

  • Start small
  • Be patient
  • Make participation voluntary
  • Think carefully about which students to involve
  • Create shared aims
  • Cultivate support structures
  • Learn from mistakes

LSE Change Makers

Change Makers is a School-wide collaborative programme between LSE and LSE Students’ Union, currently in its fourth year. It gives current students the chance to make meaningful change at LSE through independent research. Change Makers identify a particular aspect of LSE to investigate. They then plan and carry out a small-scale research project (with funding and research support from LSE). At the end of the project, Change Makers communicate their findings and recommendations to senior leadership across LSE and LSESU to take forward. 

LSE Student Education Panel

The Student Education Panel is a School-wide collaborative programme between LSE and LSE Students Union. Currently in its second year, it aims to engage students of all backgrounds in the development of education and students’ experiences at LSE, through dialogue and co-creation. Panellists meet once per term to discuss a specific topic, question or proposal and they communicate their insights to senior leadership across LSE and LSESU. This to helps to foreground diverse students’ voices in decision making. 

Research Internships

Working with a student as a research intern or assistant may seem hierarchical but can be planned, and perceived by students, as a two-way exchange. Interns can develop knowledge and skills that they value (including familiarity with archives, software, or methodological tools). Students also appreciate furthering the progress of a ‘real world’ research project. Your department or centre may run a regular internship scheme, and funding is also available for more ad hoc opportunities. 

Events

Upcoming

  • Engaging Students as Partners Co-Creation Workshop (1-2:30pm, Wednesday 15 June)

    In advance of this session, you will be asked to identify one area of your work/practice that you think could benefit from enhanced collaboration and/or co-creation with students. You might have a specific project in mind, or be interested in embedding an ethos of partnership into an aspect of your everyday responsibilities. Ideas of all sizes, and at all stages of development, are welcome!
    This collaborative session will be an opportunity for you to discuss your idea with others who are also interested in developing principles of partnership across LSE, ask questions, and draw on the group’s collective experiences, expertise and suggestions. The aim of the session is to support you to identify and enhance the enablers and reduce the barriers to student/staff partnership within the context of your specific role.

 

Support from Eden

Resources

Funding 

The Eden Catalyst Fund supports initiatives which contribute to the development and delivery of education enhancement activity, and is particularly interested in applications relating to “Student voices, partnership and academic support” (amongst other themes). You can apply for funding up to £10,000. 

Further information

Information for students

This is primarily a staff-facing webpage. For information about taking part in either of LSE’s School-wide partnership opportunities as a student, please visit: 

Or to discover other ways of making positive change at LSE visit Part of LSE: Student Voice or LSESU: Student Voice