5 lessons learnt from students at ISaPI

Earlier this month The University of Adelaide hosted the 4th International Institute on Students as Partners (ISaPI), in association with McMaster University of Canada. We heard from many staff and students from around the globe who have been involved in the Student as Partners program. Elektra Walter, Project Manager in the Learning Enhancement and Innovation Team attended the 3-day conference and came away with 5 key takeaways from ISaPI and shares what the LEI team are currently doing with each one.

Written by Elektra Walter, Project Manager

1: Authentic, meaningful interactions occur when students and staff work together to define problems and co-create (not just review) solutions.

The University of Adelaide’s ten values for Student Partnerships are well aligned with this understanding:

Authenticity Development
Honesty Respect
Courage Reciprocity
Inclusivity Ownership
Empowerment Support

In line with these values, LEI have adopted five main principles for Student Partnerships, adapted from Kelly Matthews “Five Propositions for Genuine Students as Partners Practice” (*Matthews 2017):

  • Foster inclusive partnerships.
  • Nurture power-sharing relationships through dialogue and reflection.
  • Accept partnership as a process with uncertain outcomes.
  • Engage in ethical partnerships.
  • Enact partnership for transformation.

* Kelly Matthews  (2017),  “Five Propositions for Genuine Students as Partners Practice,” International Journal for Students as Partners 1 (2), doi: 10.15173/ijsap.v1i2.3315

2: When Students as Partners becomes an institution wide ethos or state of mind, student partnerships become an integral part of everyday practice. 

In LEI we aim to engage students in 100% of our projects.  A few examples of how we are facilitating connections between students, professional staff and academic staff from across the University include:

3: Sharing examples of successful partnerships can help increase understanding and promote the benefits of student partnerships to both staff and students. 

We aim to share such examples regularly through The Cog Bulletin and are always mindful of articulating the benefits to all partners.  Tom Crichton sets out the benefits of Students as Partners, for both staff and students, in his blog post For students, by students: The Students as Partners program.

4: Student partnerships are most insightful when a diversity of perspectives are represented through an inclusive approach to establishing partnerships

LEI aim’s to invite participation in our projects by students representing a variety of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.  We have three main avenues for engagement with Student Partners, that Tom has outlined here.

5: Professional staff as facilitators of interactions between teaching staff and students

It was encouraging and affirming for LEI staff attending ISaPI to note how many of the academic and student interactions presented, internationally and locally, were inspired, facilitated and/or enabled by collaboration with professional staff.  This three way interaction seems to be a recipe for success!


Want to find out more about SaP Program? If you’re a staff member, get in touch with your faculty learning designer, or for interested students, fill out the online form.


Elektra Walter
Project Manager

Elektra Walter is the Project Manager in the Learning Enhancement and Innovation Team. Elektra has been actively involved with key projects such as the LEI Grants and works closely with other staff members from various divisions to continuously enhance the student experience.

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