Agency through partnership in neurodiverse college learning communities


  • Lydia Indira Fisher Portland State University
  • Grace Piper
  • Hannah Werthman



inclusion, accessibility, agency, intellectual disability, teaching and learning, education, peer mentors


This article examines the work of creating collaborative learning partnerships that fully include students with intellectual disabilities. The article reviews the scholarship of partnership as a starting point in discussing learning environments that support students with significant intellectual disabilities—a group that has only recently been encouraged to enroll in colleges and universities. The authors—a faculty member and two former undergraduate mentors in the University Studies program at Portland State University—offer reflections on their time partnering as facilitators of courses that include students with intellectual disabilities. They then analyze those reflections in relation to the scholarship of partnership and special education. The article presents evidence that the partnership approach to learning is more fully realized through intentional investment in universal design for learning principles and extended support networks invested in collaboration and interpersonal relationship. These approaches effectively bring students with disabilities into the center of educational environments and maintain their agency in shaping their learning communities.


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How to Cite

Fisher, L. I., Piper, G., & Werthman, H. (2021). Agency through partnership in neurodiverse college learning communities . International Journal for Students As Partners, 5(2), 14–27.



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