“I feel like some students are better connected”: Students’ perspectives on applying for extracurricular partnership opportunities


  • Elizabeth Marquis Assistant Professor, Arts & Science Program and Associate Director (Research), Paul R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation, and Excellence in Teaching, McMaster University http://mi.mcmaster.ca http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7362-678X
  • Ajitha Jayaratnam McMaster University
  • Anamika Mishra McMaster University
  • Ksenia Rybkina McMaster University




student-faculty partnership, motivation, barriers, facilitators, inclusion


While existing research has discussed the need for student-faculty partnership opportunities to be inclusive and accessible, attention to students’ motivations for participating in extracurricular partnership activities, and to their sense of the relative accessibility of such opportunities, has been limited. The present study, designed and conducted by students and faculty working in partnership, aimed to address this gap in the literature by exploring how students at a Canadian research-intensive university with a centrally-supported Student Partners Program perceive extracurricular partnership opportunities and the process of applying for them. Drawing from survey and focus group data, we describe students’ motivations for taking part in student-staff partnership initiatives and their sense of the program features that enable and constrain students’ participation. Implications of these findings for practitioners and researchers interested in Students as Partners are discussed.


Download data is not yet available.


Acai, A., Akesson, B., Allen, M., Chen, V., Mathany, C., McCollum, B., Spencer, J., & Verwoord, R. E. M. (2017). Success in student-faculty/staff SoTL partnerships: Motivations, challenges, power, and definitions. Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 8(2). https://doi.org/10.5206/cjsotl-rcacea.2017.2.8

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

Barbour, R. (2007). Doing focus groups. London: Sage.

Bell, A. (2016). Students as co-inquirers in Australian higher education: Opportunities and challenges. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 4(2). https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.4.2.8

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.

Cook-Sather, A. (2011). Layered learning: Student consultants deepening classroom and life lessons. Educational Action Research, 19(1), 41-57.

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. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2013.805694

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. Retrieved from http://repository.brynmawr.edu/edu_pubs/32/.

Cook-Sather, A. & Abbot, S. (2016). Translating partnerships: How faculty-student collaboration in explorations of teaching and learning can transform perceptions, terms, and selves. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 4(2). https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.4.2.5

Cook-Sather, A. & Agu, P. (2013). Student consultants of color and faculty members working together toward culturally sustaining pedagogy. To Improve the Academy, 32(1), 271-285. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2334-4822.2013.tb00710.x

Cook-Sather, A. & Alter, A. (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.

Cook-Sather, A. & Felten, P. (2017). Ethics of academic leadership: Guiding learning and teaching. In F. Su & M. Woods (Eds.), Cosmopolitan Perspectives on Becoming an Academic Leader in Higher Education (pp. 175-191). London: Bloomsbury.

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. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2014.911263

Delpish, A., Holmes, A., Knight-McKenna, M., Mihans, R., Darby, A., King, K., & 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.

Felten, P. (2013). Principles of good practice in SoTL. Teaching and Learning Inquiry, 1(1), 121-125. https://doi.org/10.2979/teachlearninqu.1.1.121

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. http://dx.doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.1.2.63

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/issue/view/46/showToc

Healey, M., Bradford, M., Roberts, C. & Knight, Y. (2013). Collaborative discipline-based curriculum change: Applying Change Academy processes at department level. International Journal for Academic Development 18(1), 31-44. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2011.628394

Healey, M., Flint, A., & Harrington, K. (2014). Engagement through partnership: Students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. York: Higher Education Academy. Retrieved from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/engagement-through-partnership-students-partners-learning-and-teaching-higher-education

Healey, M., Flint, A., & Harrington, K. (2016). Students as partners: Reflections on a conceptual model. Teaching and Learning Inquiry, 4(2). https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.4.2.3

Hill, R. (1998). What sample size is “enough” in internet survey research? Interpersonal Computing and Technology: An Electronic Journal for the 21st Century, 6(3-4). Retrieved from http://www.reconstrue.co.nz/IPCT-J%20Vol%206%20Robin%20hill%20SampleSize.pdf

Huxham, M., Hunter, M., McIntyre, A., Shilland, R., & McArthur, J. (2015). Student and teacher co-navigation of a course: Following the natural lines of academic enquiry. Teaching in Higher Education, 20(5), 530-541. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2015.1036730

Jarvis, J., Dickerson, C., & Stockwell, L. (2013). Student-staff partnership in higher education: The impact on learning and teaching. Procedia – Social and Behavioural Sciences, 90, 220-225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.07.085

Kandiko Howson, C., & Weller, S. (2016). Defining pedagogic expertise: Students and new lecturers as co-developers in learning and teaching. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 4(2). https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.4.2.6

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). https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v1i1.3176

Kosny, A. (2003). Joint stories and layered tales: Support, contradiction and meaning construction in focus group research. The Qualitative Report, 8(4), 539-548.

Little, S., Sharp, S., Stanley, L., Hayward, M, Gannon-Leary, P., O’Neill, P., & Williams, J. (2011). Collaborating for staff-student partnerships: Experiences and observations. In S. Little (Ed.), Staff-student partnerships in higher education (pp. 215-226). New York: Continuum.

Macfarlane, B. (2016). The performative turn in the assessment of student learning: A rights perspective. Teaching in Higher Education, 21(7), 839-853. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2016.1183623

Marquis, E. (2017). Undergraduate research and student-staff partnerships: Supporting the development of student scholars at a Canadian teaching & learning institute. Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research, 1(1), 39-44.

Marquis, E., Black, C., & Healey, M. (2017). Responding to the challenges of student-staff partnership: Reflections of participants at an international summer institute. Teaching in Higher Education, 22(6), 720-735. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2017.1289510

Marquis, E., Haqqee, Z., Kirby, S., Liu, A., Puri, V., Cockcroft, R., Goff, L., & Knorr, K. (2017). Connecting students and staff for teaching and learning inquiry: The McMaster student partners program. In B. Carnell and D. Fung (Eds.), Disciplinary approaches to connecting the higher education curriculum (pp. 203-216). London: UCL Press. Retrieved from http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/browse-books/developing-the-higher-education-curriculum

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

Matthews, K. E. (2017). Five propositions for genuine “students as partners” practice. International Journal of Students as Partners, 1(2). https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v1i2.3315

Matthews, K., Cook-Sather, A. & Healey, M. (2018). Connecting learning, teaching, and research through student-staff partnerships: Toward universities as egalitarian learning communities. In V. Tong, A. Standen, & M. Sotiriou (Eds.), Shaping Higher Education with Students: Ways to Connect Research and Teaching (pp.23-29). London: UCL Press.

McCulloch, A. (2009). The student as co-producer: Learning from public administration about the student-university relationship. Studies in Higher Education, 34(2), 171-183. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070802562857

Mercer-Mapstone, L., Dvorakova, S. L., Matthews, K., Abbot, S., Cheng, B., Felten, P., Knorr, K., Marquis, E., Shammas, R., & Swaim, K. (2017). A systematic literature review of students as partners in higher education. International Journal for Students as Partners, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v1i1.3119

Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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). https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2008.020216

Moore-Cherry, N., Healey, R., Nicholson, D. T., & Andrews, W. (2016). Inclusive partnership: Enhancing student engagement in geography. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 40(1), 84-103. https://doi.org/10.1080/03098265.2015.1066316

Neary, M., (2014). Student as producer: Research-engaged teaching frames university-wide curriculum development. CUR Quarterly, 35(2), 28-34.

Pounder, J. S., Ho Hung-lam, E., & Groves, J. M. (2016). Faculty-student engagement in teaching observation and assessment: a Hong Kong initiative. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(8), 1193-1205. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2015.1071779

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. https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2014.938264

Weller, S., Domarkaite, G. K., Lam, J. L. C., & Metta, L. U. (2013). Student-faculty co-inquiry into student reading: Recognising SoTL as pedagogic practice. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 7(2). https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2013.070209

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




How to Cite

Marquis, E., Jayaratnam, A., Mishra, A., & Rybkina, K. (2018). “I feel like some students are better connected”: Students’ perspectives on applying for extracurricular partnership opportunities. International Journal for Students As Partners, 2(1), 64–81. https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v2i1.3300



Research Articles