Third space partnerships with students: Becoming educational together


  • Tom Burns
  • Sandra Frances Sinfield London Metropolitan University
  • Sandra Abegglen



higher education, learning development, student as partners, third space, partnership


This case study discusses how we harnessed a University Teaching Fellowship to open a collective third space partnership with “non-traditional” students to enable them to draw on their experiences of transition into higher education and to produce resources designed to help other students find their place, voice, and power at university. We discuss first the “in-between” opportunities of learning development as a “third space profession” that enables us to work in creative partnership with students. We further set the scene by exploring the third space potential of learning development per se and then examine the successful development and administration of a learning development module, Becomingan Educationist, at a medium-sized university in the United Kingdom.We conclude by arguing for third space partnerships not just alongside the curriculum, but in and through the curriculum as well.


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Author Biographies

Tom Burns

Tom Burns is Senior Lecturer in Education and Learning Development in the Centre for Professional and Educational Development (CPED) at London Metropolitan University, developing innovations with a special focus on praxes that ignite student curiosity, and develop power and voice. He is co-author of Teaching, Learning and Study Skills: a guide for tutors and Essential Study Skills: the complete guide to success at university (4th Edition). Always interested in theatre and the arts, and their role in teaching and learning, Tom has set up adventure playgrounds, community events and festivals for his local community. (

Sandra Abegglen

Sandra Abegglen is Senior Lecturer and Course Leader BA Hons Education Studies at London Metropolitan University, and is currently teaching on modules promoting peer-to-peer support and experiential learning. Her research interests are in peer mentoring, creative learning and teaching, visual narratives, identity and qualitative research methods. She has written about her teaching practice in a variety of journals and actively participated in creative learning events. Find her blog documenting her mentoring work at:


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How to Cite

Burns, T., Sinfield, S. F., & Abegglen, S. (2019). Third space partnerships with students: Becoming educational together. International Journal for Students As Partners, 3(1), 60–68.



Special Section: Third Space and Partnership