A Systematic Literature Review of Students as Partners in Higher Education

Lucy Mercer-Mapstone, Sam Lucie Dvorakova, Kelly E Matthews, Sophia Abbot, Breagh Cheng, Peter Felten, Kris Knorr, Elizabeth Marquis, Rafaella Shammas, Kelly Swaim


“Students as Partners” (SaP) in higher education re-envisions students and staff as active collaborators in teaching and learning. Understanding what research on partnership communicates across the literature is timely and relevant as more staff and students come to embrace SaP. Through a systematic literature review of empirical research, we explored the question: How are SaP practices in higher education presented in the academic literature? Trends across results provide insights into four themes: the importance of reciprocity in partnership; the need to make space in the literature for sharing the (equal) realities of partnership; a focus on partnership activities that are small scale, at the undergraduate level, extracurricular, and focused on teaching and learning enhancement; and the need to move toward inclusive, partnered learning communities in higher education. We highlight nine implications for future research and practice.


students as partners, student-staff partnership, higher education, systematic literature review

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v1i1.3119

Lucy Mercer-Mapstone
University of Queensland

Lucy Mercer-Mapstone is a PhD student in the Sustainable Minerals Institute and a co-fellow in the Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation at the University of Queensland, Australia.

Sam Lucie Dvorakova
University of Queensland

Lucie S. Dvorakova is an honors student with the Institute for Molecular Bioscience and a summer scholar at the Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation at the University of Queensland, Australia.

Kelly E Matthews
University of Queensland

Kelly E. Matthews is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Queensland, Australia.

Sophia Abbot
Trinity University
United States

Sophia Abbot is a Fellow for Collaborative Programs at the Collaborative for Learning and Teaching at Trinity University, United States. 

Breagh Cheng
McMaster University

Breagh Cheng is a recent graduate of the Honors Bachelor of Science Program at McMaster University, Canada.

Peter Felten
Elon University
United States

Peter Felten is Assistant Provost for Teaching and Learning, Executive Director of the Center for Engaged Learning, and Professor of history at Elon University, United States.

Kris Knorr
McMaster University

Kris Knorr is the Program Area Lead for Educational Development at McMaster’s MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation, and Excellence in Teaching, Canada.

Elizabeth Marquis
McMaster University

Elizabeth Marquis is an Assistant Professor in the Arts & Science program at McMaster University and Associate Director (Research) of the university's MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation, and Excellence in Teaching, Canada.

Rafaella Shammas
McMaster University

Rafaella Shammas is an honors Arts and Science and Biochemistry student at McMaster University, Canada.

Kelly Swaim
Elon University
United States

Kelly Swaim is an honors student of history education at Elon University, United States.