Making Sense of Partnership in SoTL
Rachel Braun, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning
October 31, 2017
Partnership is broadly understood as a process rather than a product. As such, it offers awesome collaborative potential and possibilities in understanding student learning, changing campus culture, and critically reflecting on assumptions about teaching and learning
Simply put, partnership is good practice in SoTL.
Partnership is increasingly recognized within the literature as a component of effective SoTL inquiry. Felten (2013), Werder & Otis (2010), Cook-Sather, Bovill & Felten (2014), Healey, Flint & Harrington (2014) and the International Journal on Students as Partners offer significant evidence, theoretical mapping, and critically reflective discussion on the evolving nature of partnership within diverse SoTL inquiries and collaborations from across the globe.
However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Critically consider your context.
As Felten (2013) asserts, good SoTL practice requires partnering with students in SoTL inquiry, but full partnership may not be practical or appropriate in all SoTL projects. Like much SoTL work, the life and success of a partnership depends on context, be it disciplinary, program, curriculum, etc. I suggest looking at various partnership frameworks to see what partnership looks like in contexts similar to your own. Notably, Healey, Flint & Harrington (2014) offer a detailed framework for partnership as a process of student engagement, Dunne & Zandstra (2011) map the drivers of partnership on a continuum, and Bovill & Bulley (2011) build a ladder of partnership in curriculum design. Throughout your considerations, keep in mind that at minimum, partnership in SoTL inquiry must follow basic tenants of human subject research (Felten, 2013: 123).
From here, venture into the awesome collaborative possibilities and potential.
Felten (2013) builds his assertion that partnering with students is good SoTL practice upon Huber & Hutching’s (2005) canonical call for the expansion of the “teaching commons” to include students. As Felten highlights, Huber & Hutching’s (2010) later emphasis for higher education’s need for “a commitment to more shared responsibility for learning among students and teachers, a more democratic intellectual community, and more authentic co-inquiry” illuminates the potential benefits of partnership in SoTL inquiry (Felten, 2013: 123. For Hutchings & Huber’s original passage, see Hutchings & Huber in Werder & Otis, 2010, p. xii). With this call at heart, partnership is broadly understood as a process rather than a product. As such, it offers awesome collaborative potential and possibilities in understanding student learning, changing campus culture, and critically reflecting on assumptions about teaching and learning. This video from the Centre for Engaged Learning at Elon showcases student, instructor, and staff reflections on their own partnership experiences in 2013.
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Healey, M., Flint, A., Harrington. (2014). Engagement through partnership: Students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. The Higher Education Academy. Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/2s5UYbF
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