By any other name? The impacts of differing assumptions, expectations, and misconceptions in bringing about resistance to student-staff partnership




students as partners, terminology, language, partnership, curriculum redesign, geography


Most of the existing literature on student-staff partnership explores the experiences of people who are keen to be involved and who have already bought into the ethos of Students as Partners. We explore the challenges of conducting student-staff partnership in the context of resistance. Specifically, we focus on the interpretations of partnership by students and staff who were attempting to work in partnership for the first time in a medium-sized geography department in the UK The views of participants were captured during a six-month project in which four undergraduate students were employed to work with eight academics to redesign the second-year undergraduate curriculum of one programme. Notwithstanding an introductory briefing and ongoing support, some participants showed indications of resistance. Our findings suggest that different perspectives on partnership influenced participants’ experiences. We argue that assumptions, expectations, and misconceptions around the terminology used to describe Students-as-Partners practice may hinder the process itself, as some people may not buy in to the practice. However, despite the challenges of this project, the experience of being involved in the re-design of the modules has led to reduced resistance and emerging partnership practices throughout the department.


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Author Biographies

Ruth L Healey, University of Chester

Dr Ruth Healey is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Chester, UK.  In 2016, she also joined Healey HE Consultants.  She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and in 2017 became a National Teaching Fellow. 

Alex Lerczak

Alex Lerczak is a Graduate Consultant in the Social and Market Research Team at AECOM. He has a First-Class BSc degree in Geography, as well as an MSc in Sustainability for Community and Business (Distinction).  He worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Chester from 2016-2017.

Katharine Welsh, University of Chester

Dr Katharine Welsh is a Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography at the University of Chester and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is an advocate of technology enhanced learning and is part of the Enhancing Fieldwork Learning team.

Derek France, University of Chester

Professor Derek France is a professor in pedagogy and geosciences.  He is Deputy Head of the Department of Geography and International Development at the University of Chester, UK.  In 2008 he became a National Teaching Fellow. 


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How to Cite

Healey, R. L., Lerczak, A., Welsh, K., & France, D. (2019). By any other name? The impacts of differing assumptions, expectations, and misconceptions in bringing about resistance to student-staff partnership. International Journal for Students As Partners, 3(1), 106–122.



Research Articles