We are the Process: Reflections on the Underestimation of Power in Students as Partners in Practice


  • Angela Kehler University of Northern British Columbia
  • Roselynn Verwoord University of British Columbia
  • Heather Smith University of Northern British Columbia




students as partners, power, critical pedagogical theory, feminist theory, reflective practice


The concept of Students as Partners (SaP) has much merit; however, further reflection on the power embedded in daily SaP processes and relationships is needed. In this article, we use the SaP model articulated by Healey, Flint, and Harrington (2014) to examine three reflections of SaP in practice from two different Canadian post-secondary contexts. Informed by critical pedagogical theory and feminist theory, we highlight sites of harmony and dissonance between the Healey, Flint, and Harrington (2014) model (theory) and our reflections (practice) and highlight embedded power relations in SaP processes and practices. We argue that there is often an underestimation of power in SaP.



Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Angela Kehler, University of Northern British Columbia

Angela Kehler recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Political Science at the University of Northern British Columbia. She now works for a non-profit organization helping federal offenders find housing and support services to ensure successful transition into the community.

Roselynn Verwoord, University of British Columbia

Roselynn Verwoord is a PhD Student in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She works as a Curriculum Consultant at the UBC Centre for Teaching Learning and Technology.

Heather Smith, University of Northern British Columbia

Heather Smith is the Director of the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. She is also a Professor of International Studies and a 3M National Teaching Fellow.


Allin, L. (2014). Collaboration between staff and students in the scholarship of teaching and learning: The potential and the problems. Teaching and Learning Inquiry, 2(1), 95-102.

Bovill, C., Cook-Sather, A., & Felten, P. (2011). Changing participants in pedagogical planning: Students as co-creators of teaching approaches, course design, and curricula. International Journal for Academic Development, 16(2), 133-145.

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.

Brooman, S., Darwent, S., & Pimor, A. (2015). The student voice in higher education curriculum design: Is there value in listening? Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 52(6), 663-674. doi:10.1080/14703297.2014.910128

Burke, H. (2013). Legitimizing student expertise in student-faculty partnerships. Teaching and Learning Together in Higher Education, 10, 1-5.

Christenson, S. L., Reschly, A. L., & Wylie, C. (Eds.). (2012). Handbook of research on student engagement. New York: Springer.

Cohen, J., Cook-Sather, A., & Lesnick, A. (2013). Students as leaders and learners: Towards self- authorship and social change on a college campus. Innovation in Education and Teaching International, 50(1), 3-13.

Cook Sather, A. (2007). Resisting the impositional potential of student voice work: Lessons for liberatory educational research from poststructuralist feminist critiques of critical pedagogy. Discourse, 28(3), 389-403.

Cook-Sather, A. (2009). I am not afraid to listen: Prospective teachers learning from students. Theory into Practice, 48(3), 176-183.

Cook-Sather, A. (2014). Student-faculty partnership in explorations of pedagogical practices: A threshold concept in academic development. International Journal for Academic Development, 19(3), 186-198.

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.

Cook-Sather, A., Bovill, C., & Felten, P. (2014). Engaging students as partners in learning and teaching: A guide for faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Dauphinee, E. (2010). The ethics of autoethnography. Review of International Studies, 36(3), 799-818.

Doty, R. L. (2001). Desert tracts: Statecraft in remote places. Alternatives, 26, 523-543.

Doty, R. L. (2004). Maladies of our souls: Identity and voice in the writing of academic international relations. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 17(2), 377-392.

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

Enloe, C. (1996). Margins, silences and bottom rungs: How to overcome the underestimation of power in the study of international relations. In S. Smith, K. Booth, & M. Zalewski (Eds.), International Theory: Positivism and Beyond (pp. 186-202). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Enloe, C. (2004). The curious feminist: Searching for women in a new age of empire. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Felten, P., Bagg, J., Bumbry, M., Hill, J., Hornsby, K., Pratt, M., & Weller, S. (2013). A call for expanding inclusive student engagement in SoTL. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 1(2): 63-74.

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.

Freire, P. (2002). Pedagogy of the oppressed (Thirtieth anniversary ed.). New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Giroux, H. A. (1997). Pedagogy and the politics of hope: Theory, culture, and school. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Healey, M., Flint, A., & Harrington, K. (2014). Engagement through partnership: Students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. York: HE Academy.

Healey, M., & Jenkins, A. (2009). Developing undergraduate research and inquiry. York: HE Academy.

Lesnick, A., & Cook-Sather, A. (2010). Building civic engagement on campus through a radically inclusive teaching and learning initiative. Innovative Higher Education, 35(1), 3-17.

Mihans, R., Long, D., & Felten, P. (2008). Power and expertise: Student-faculty collaboration in course design and the scholarship of teaching and learning. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2(2), 1-9.

Nygaard, C., Brand, S., Bartholomew, P., & Millard, L. (Eds.). (2013). Student Engagement Identity, Motivation, and Community. Faringdon: Libri.

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

Shor, I. (1992). Empowering education: Critical teaching for social change. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Silvers, H. (2016). Student response to “Translating partnerships: How faculty-student collaboration in explorations of teaching and learning can transform perceptions, terms, and selves.” Teaching and Learning Inquiry, 4(2), 13-14. http://dx.doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.4.2.5.

Smith, H., Smith, M., & Smith, R. (2011). Everyday stories of a militarized childhood. In J. Marshall Beier (Ed.), The militarization of childhood: Thinking beyond the Global South (pp. 237-253). New York: Palgrave.

Smith, H., Sjolander, C., & Stienstra, D. (Eds). (2003). Feminist perspectives on Canadian foreign policy. Toronto: Oxford.
Smith, H. (2009). Disciplining nature of the discipline. In M. Beier & Lana Wylie (Eds.), Canadian foreign policy in critical perspective (pp. 4-14). Toronto: Oxford.

Smith, H., Caldwell, C., Carson, H. M., Gribling, C., Milinazzo, K., Therrien, E., & Warner, L. (2012). Doing it differently: Creation of an art gallery. International Studies Perspectives, 13(3), 307-320.

Sylvester, C. (2009). Art/museums: International relations where we least expect it. London: Paradigm Publishers.

Weller, S., Domarkaite, G. C., Joseph, L. C. L., & Metta, L. U. (2013). Student-faculty co-inquiry into student reading: Recognising SoTL as pedagogic practice. International Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 7(2), 1-16.

Werder, C., & Otis, M. (Eds.). (2010). Engaging student voices in the study of teaching and learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Werder, C., Pope-Raurk, R., & Verwoord, R. (2016). Guest editors’ introduction: Students as co-inquirers special section. Teaching and Learning Inquiry, 4(2), 1-3.

Werder, C., Thibou, S., & Kaufer, B. (2012). Students as co-inquirers: A requisite threshold concept in educational development? Journal of Faculty Development, 26(3), 34-38.

Werder, C., Thibou, S., Simkins, S., Hornsby, K., Legg, K., & Franklin, T. (2016). Co-inquiry with students: When shared questions lead the way. Teaching and Learning Inquiry, 4(2), 1-15.

van Dam, L. (2016). Student response to “Students as partners: Reflections on a conceptual model.” Teaching and Learning Inquiry, 4(2), 12-13. http://dx.doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.4.2.5.

Zalewski, M. (1996). All these theories yet the bodies keep piling up: Theories, theorists, and theorising. In S. Smith, K. Booth, & M. Zalewski (Eds.), International theory: Positivism and beyond (pp. 340-353). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Zalewski, M. (2006). Distracted reflections on the production, narration, and refusal of feminist knowledge in international relations. In B. Ackerly, M. Stern, & J. True (Eds.), Feminist methodologies for international relations (pp. 42-61). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.




How to Cite

Kehler, A., Verwoord, R., & Smith, H. (2017). We are the Process: Reflections on the Underestimation of Power in Students as Partners in Practice. International Journal for Students as Partners, 1(1), 38–52. https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v1i1.3176



Research Articles