Wherever the setting – inside or outside curricula – partnerships offer a potentially radical way to transform teaching and learning in higher education. Such transformation stands to benefit the individuals engaging in partnership; the broader academic community of students and staff who experience enhanced teaching; and the institutions within which partnership takes place as they see a cultural shift toward diverse and inclusive partnership communities.

Students as Partners research has increased rapidly in the past few years. As practitioners explore and publish their findings, we start to get a better understanding of what the potential benefits and impacts of partnership are for individuals and institutions who engage in partnership.

As UQ moves towards embedding a culture of partnership by making students as partners ‘business as usual’ throughout multiple levels of the institution, below are some of the potential benefits and impacts that may result from this collaborative work.

Benefits for individuals engaging in partnership

Benefits for students:

  • Improvements in:
    • meta-cognitive learning
    • engagement
    • confidence/self-efficacy
    • ownership of, and motivation for, learning
    • disciplinary content knowledge
    • academic performance
  • Raised awareness of graduate attributes
  • Improved employability
  • Engaged and empowered under-represented students

Benefits for staff:

  • Transformation in teaching and learning beliefs and practices
  • Reconceptualisation of teaching as a collaborative process to foster learning
  • Adoption of more inclusive teaching practices
  • Development of more innovative curricular resources

Benefits for both:

  • Greater sense of belonging to the university
  • Enhanced relationships between those involved in partnership
  • Enhanced trust between those involved in partnership
  • Increased understanding of the ‘other’ experience
  • Positively shifted traditional power dynamics between students and academics
  • Increased sense of leadership in, and responsibility for, learning and teaching

Benefits for institutions with embedded partnership practices

  • Improvements in:
    • student engagement
    • student retention
    • graduate employability
    • student satisfaction
    • student experience
  • Engagement of ‘hard to reach’ or under-represented students
  • More engaged alumni
  • Improved student representation in governance structures
  • Greater uptake of innovative teaching and learning practices
  • Campus-wide inclusive partnership learning communities
  • Positive cultural change
  • Better relationships between institution and students’ unions
  • Increased research outputs
  • More diverse options for students to engage

Benefits fact sheet


This overview of benefits and impacts has been compiled based on dozens of international published resources.

Allin, L. (2014). Collaboration Between Staff and Students in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: The Potential and the Problems. Teaching and Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, 2(1), 95-102.  Retrieved from muse.jhu.edu/article/539363.

Barnes, E., Goldring, L., Bestwick, A., & Wood, J. (2010). A collaborative evaluation of student-staff partnership in inquiry-based educational development. In S. Little (Ed.), Staff-student partnerships in Higher Education (pp. 16-30). London: Continuum.

Bovill, C., Cook‐Sather, A., & Felten, P. (2011). Students as co‐creators of teaching approaches, course design, and curricula: implications for academic developers. International Journal for Academic Development, 16(2), 133-145. doi:10.1080/1360144X.2011.568690

Bovill, C., Cook-Sather, A., Felten, P., Millard, L., & Moore-Cherry, N. (2016). Addressing potential challenges in co-creating learning and teaching: overcoming resistance, navigating institutional norms and ensuring inclusivity in student–staff partnerships. Higher Education, 71(2), 195-208. doi:10.1007/s10734-015-9896-4

Chapman, P., Blatchford, S., & Hughes, E. (2013). Lightening up the dark side: A partnership approach between a students' union and the university. In C. Nysgaard, S. Brand, P. Bartholomew, & L. Millard (Eds.), Student Engagement: Identity, Motivation and Community. Faringdon: Libri.

Cook-Sather, A. (2014). Student-faculty partnership in explorations of pedagogical practice: a threshold concept in academic development. International Journal for Academic Development, 19(3), 186-198. doi:10.1080/1360144X.2013.805694

Cook-Sather, A. (2014). Multiplying perspectives and improving practice: what can happen when undergraduate students collaborate with college faculty to explore teaching and learning. Instructional Science, 42(1), 31-46. doi:10.1007/s11251-013-9292-3

Cook-Sather, A. (2015). Dialogue across differences of position, perspective, and identity: Reflective practice in/on a student-faculty pedagogical partnership program. Teachers College Record, 117 (2).

Cook‐Sather, A. (2011). Layered learning: student consultants deepening classroom and life lessons. Educational Action Research, 19(1), 41-57. doi:10.1080/09650792.2011.547680

Cook-Sather, A., & Agu, P. (2013). Student consultants of color and faculty members working together toward culturally sustaining pedagogy. In J. E. Groccia & L. Cruz (Eds.), To Improve the Academy: Resources for Faculty, Instructional, and Organizational Development (pp. 271-285). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Cook-Sather, A., & Alter, Z. (2011). What Is and What Can Be: How a Liminal Position Can Change Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 42(1), 37-53. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1492.2010.01109.x

Cook-Sather, A., Bovill, C., & Felten, P. (2014). Engaging Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching: A Guide for Faculty. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.

Cook-Sather, A., & Luz, A. (2015). Greater engagement in and responsibility for learning: what happens when students cross the threshold of student–faculty partnership. Higher Education Research & Development, 34(6), 1097-1109. doi:10.1080/07294360.2014.911263

Delpish, A., Darby, A., Holmes, A., Knight-McKenna, M., Mihans, R., King, C., & Felten, P. (2010). Equalizing voices: Student-faculty partnership in course design. In C. Werder & M. M. Otis (Eds.), Engaging student voices in the study of teaching and learning (pp. 96-114). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Crawford, K. (2012). Rethinking the student/teacher nexus: students as consultants on teaching in higher education. In M. Neary, L. Bell, & H. Stevenson (Eds.), Towards Teaching in Public: Reshaping the Modern University: Continuum.

Dunne, E., & Zandstra, R. (2011). Students as change agents–new ways of engaging with learning and teaching in higher education. Retrieved from Higher Education Academy: http://escalate.ac.uk/downloads/8242.pdf

Dunne, E., & Owen, D. (2013). The student engagement handbook: Practice in higher education. Bingley: Emerald

Flint, A. (2016). Moving from the fringe to the mainstream: opportunities for embedding student engagement through partnership. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 1(1).  Retrieved from https://journals.gre.ac.uk/index.php/raise/article/view/382/340

Healey, M., Flint, A., & Harrington, K. (2014). Engagement through partnership: students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. Retrieved from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/resources/engagement_through_partnership.pdf

 Hill, J., Blackler, V., Chellew, R., Ha, L., & Lendrum, S. (2013). From researched to researcher: student experiences of becoming co-producers and co-disseminators of knowledge. Planet, 27(1), 35-41. doi:10.11120/plan.2013.27010035

Jarvis, J., Dickerson, C., & Stockwell, L. (2013). Staff-student partnership in practice in higher education: the impact on learning and teaching. Paper presented at the 6th International Conference on University Learning and Teaching (InCULT 2012).

Jensen, K., & Bennett, L. (2016). Enhancing teaching and learning through dialogue: a student and staff partnership model. International Journal for Academic Development, 21(1), 41-53. doi:10.1080/1360144X.2015.1113537

Kay, J., Dunne, E., & Hutchinson, J. (2010). Rethinking the values of higher education - students as change agents? Retrieved from Gloucester: www.qaa.ac.uk/Publications/InformationAndGuidance/Pages/Rethinking-the-values-of-higher-education---students-as-change-agents.aspx

Lewis, D. (2017). Extracurricular Partnerships as a Tool for Enhancing Graduate Employability. International Journal for Students as Partners, 1(1).

Lowe, T., Shaw, C., Sims, S., King, S., & Paddison, A. (2017). Extracurricular Partnerships as a Tool for Enhancing Graduate Employability. International Journal for Students as Partners, 1(1).

Marquis, E., Black, C., & Healey, M. (2017). Responding to the challenges of student-staff partnership: the reflections of participants at an international summer institute. Teaching in Higher Education, 1-16. doi:10.1080/13562517.2017.1289510

Marquis, E., Puri, V., Wan, S., Ahmad, A., Goff, L., Knorr, K., . . . Woo, J. (2016). Navigating the threshold of student–staff partnerships: a case study from an Ontario teaching and learning institute. International Journal for Academic Development, 21(1), 4-15. doi:10.1080/1360144X.2015.1113538

Matheson, R., & Poole, N. (2015). Student-led fellowships: developing partnerships to identify best practice and promote change. The Journal of Educational Innovation, Partnership and Change, 1(1). doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.21100/jeipc.v1i1.149.

Matthews, K. (2016). Students as Partners as the Future of Student Engagement. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 1(1), 1-5.  Retrieved from https://journals.gre.ac.uk/index.php/raise/article/view/380/338

Matthews, K. (2016). About Students as Partners.   Retrieved from https://itali.uq.edu.au/content/about-students-partners

Mercer-Mapstone, L., Dvorakova, S. L., Groenendijk, L., & Matthews, K. E. (2017). Idealism, conflict, leadership, and labels: Reflections on co-facilitation as partnership practice. Teaching and Learning Together in Higher Education, 1(21).  Retrieved from http://repository.brynmawr.edu/tlthe/vol1/iss21/8/

Mercer-Mapstone, L., Dvorakova, S. L., Matthews, K. E., Abbot, S., Cheng, B., Felten, P., . . . Swaim, K. (2017). A Systematic Literature Review of Students as Partners in Higher Education. International Journal for Students as Partners, 1(1).  Retrieved from https://mulpress.mcmaster.ca/ijsap/article/view/3119

Neary, M. (2014). Student as Producer: Research-engaged Teaching Frames University-wide Curriculum Development. CUR Quarterly. 35(2), 28-34

Seale, J., Gibson, S., Haynes, J., & Potter, A. (2015). Power and resistance: Reflections on the rhetoric and reality of using participatory methods to promote student voice and engagement in higher education. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 39(4), 534-552. doi:10.1080/0309877X.2014.938264

Shaw, N., Rueckert, C., Smith, J., Tredinnick, J., & Lee, M. (2017). Students as Partners in the Real World - A Whole of Institution Approach. International Journal for Students as Partners, 1(1).

Webb, T., Russell, E., & Jarnecki, L. (2014). The principles of student engagement. Retrieved from http://tsep.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/gravity_forms/4-8f8ea0c4180f64d078700886483e4a08/2014/08/Student-Engagment-Conversation-Pamphlet-v11.pdf

Werder, C., Thibou, S., & Kaufer, B. (2012). Students as Co-inquirers: A Requisite Threshold Concept in Educational Development? The Journal of Faculty Development, 26(3), 34-38. 

Werder, C., & Otis, M. M. (2009). Engaging Student Voices in the Study of Teaching and Learning: Stylus Publishing