The SaP initiative allows for students and academics to strengthen their relationship, create concepts and engage in projects that are meaningful and relevant to students. This provides students with the opportunity to enhance employability skills, including negotiation and working within a team. We spoke with Tom, our Support and Student Partnership Lead who began with us as a student partner.
In a nutshell, what is Students as Partners?
Students as Partners is a philosophy and practice that emphasises the valuable contribution students can bring to learning and teaching activities by partnering and co-creating with staff. Authentic student partnership looks like students having an equitable seat at the table in co-creation where they are genuinely valued for their unique knowledge, skills, and student experience. While there are numerous ways to engage with Students as Partners, Learning Enhancement and Innovation partners with students to help scope, design, plan, implement, and evaluate our projects and initiatives to ensure that the work we do remains student-centric.
What are the benefits in using Students as Partners for both staff and students?
Students as Partners benefits both staff and students involved in partnership.
Students have the opportunity to engage and make a difference in the learning and teaching of their fellow students. Student partners say they feel a deeper connection with their learning, the University, and their academic discipline by being involved in co-creation activities. Student partners also gain valuable professional skills and experience by being exposed to a variety of ways of working and being able to communicate their own student perspective.
Staff benefit from Students as Partners by having direct engagement with current students, shortening the feedback-loop between designing/implementing projects, courses, and learning activities and observing impact to the student experience. Staff learn new ways of working and learn a lot from the diversity of student voices, skills, and experiences that are brought to the table during partnership.
What kind of opportunities are offered to student volunteers?
Student volunteers are provided with the opportunity to work alongside LEI staff as well as staff and students from across the university in a variety of forums. They could be working in creative workshops to define, brainstorm, and problem-solve learning and teaching design challenges, designing and providing feedback on new technology pilots, or sharing their varied experiences as students to help us prioritise and scope initiatives.
How can interested students get involved?
We partner with students in three ways:
- We have a team of students employed as casual staff (Learning Enhancement Officers). We normally recruit 1-2 small intakes of Learning Enhancement Officers each year by advertising on CareerHub.
- A team of student volunteers (Learning Enhancement Partners). Students interested in volunteering as a Learning Enhancement Partner can express their interest and be added to our mailing list by completing our online form.
- Outreach to the wider student body in larger campaigns and events. Students can keep a look out in their emails and digital signage around the University for invitations and calls to action.
How can Academics interested in Students as Partners get involved?
Academics interested in engaging with Students as Partners can get involved by speaking with one of our Learning Designers to discuss ways in which LEI and our student partners could work with you.
What kind of skills can students develop by participating?
Student partners develop skills in communication, public speaking, collaboration, creative problem solving, design thinking, and advocacy. Students partners also develop a variety of useful skills depending on the activities in which they are engaged. We have had student partners develop skills in web design, drafting communication and training materials, creating and editing video projects, and project management. A key skill that all student partners develop is the ability to advocate for students using their own unique perspective.
Can students get recognition or credit from volunteering?
Students can count their hours spent volunteering with LEI as student partners towards the Adelaide Graduate Award, receive certificates of participation, and are recognised at showcase events organised by LEI. Our volunteers also receive recognition throughout the year through events organised as part of the University’s wider volunteering program.
Why is having a student-centric approach important in learning and teaching at the University of Adelaide?
Having a student-centric approach to learning and teaching is important because it ensures that the needs of our current student cohort are being met, leading to better student outcomes. Student-centric learning and teaching enables students to be more engaged, able to connect what they are learning with their own experience, and allows for teaching that accounts for the unique and varied ways that individual students learn.
Support and Student Partnership Lead
Tom started working with Learning Enhancement and Innovation as a student partner in 2016 during the MyUni Transform project. In his current role as Support and Student Partnerships Lead, Tom wears two hats: (1) Leading the MyUni Support team in providing assistance to staff and students in the use of MyUni and related ecosystem learning and teaching technologies; and (2) Coordinating student partnership activities for Learning Enhancement and Innovation. This involves supervising our team of students employed as casual staff, coordinating our student volunteers, and facilitating their involvement in Learning Enhancement and Innovation projects and initiatives. Tom graduated from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Arts (Advanced) in Philosophy and Politics in 2015 and is nearly finished studying a Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, with his capstone research project on the human capital of Australian venture financing.