Open Lecture in Learning and Teaching

Open Lecture - Greenwich University
“Engagement through partnership: students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education”
Dr Abbi Flint, Higher Education Academy
Wednesday 19th November, 2014, 5-6pm, University of Greenwich, Stockwell Street

(A brief report by Dr Katya Aries, Learning Technology Advisor, CELT, UEL) 

I had the pleasure to attend the above lecture and to speak with other participants (colleagues from Greenwich University). The lecture was very enlightening and thought provoking towards a new framework for partnership with students in learning and teaching in the discourse of both the policy and practice of student engagement.

Dr Flint’s presentation explored the following key areas in the context of HE in the 21st Century:

  • Definitions and rationales for engagement through partnership;
  • A new conceptual model for exploring the different areas of learning and teaching where partnership may take place;
  • Examples for sustainable and strategic practices;
  • Tensions, opportunities and suggestions for the development of work in this area.

Abbi started her presentation with defining student partnership. It became apparent that the term partnership with students has often been interpreted and employed in different ways:

  • Students being engaged in their own learning;
  • Policies and practices to foster student academic and social engagement;
  • Engagement in quality and engagement in learning and teaching;
  • Representation structures involving students in decision making.

Dr Flint suggested that technology could enhance all these areas of development. Furthermore, a consideration was given to the rationales for students as partners:

  • To empower students to take responsibility for their learning;
  • As a way of developing a sense of belonging, and making HE more accessible and inclusive;
  • As an ethical responsibility to students and staff;
  • To align with personal teaching philosophy;
  • To challenge and resist consumerist models of higher education, and offer a constructive alternative;
  • To re-invent the university;
  • To align with purpose and values of higher education;
  • As a meaningful way of engaging with the measurement agenda;
  • To align with policy directives.

Abbi has also outlined the main areas of tensions and opportunities:

  • Inclusivity and scale;
  • Blurring of identities;
  • Terms of engagements;
  • Power relationships;
  • Sustainability.

The next presentation focus was on specific HE practices in developing partnership with students. For example, Dr Flint has made references to flipping the classroom as one of the approaches for developing effective partnership with students. Having started to work on the Flipped Classroom/Panopto Project with Peter D’Sena (Academic Developer at CELT), I am particularly interested in case studies in the context of flipping teaching. I am willing to contribute to researching and promoting models of flipped classroom approaches in the context of developing partnership with students and student civic engagement.

Abbi has also presented a visual conceptual model for developing partnership with students. A comprehensive description of this model can be found at:
https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Engagement_through_partnership.pdf (pp. 22-25). Further information about HEA research in related areas is available at: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/students-as-partners

I have found the lecture and the conversations that I had with a few colleagues very enlightening in terms of my understanding of diverse approaches for developing a partnership with students. I hope that this report and the enclosed links to additional resources will be informative for relevant areas of our collaborative work.

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