A group of faculty got together recently to discuss the CATL book club selection – “Engaging Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching: A Guide for Faculty” by Alison Cook-Sather, Catherine Bovill, and Peter Felten. The authors present a gift to all faculty, experts as well as novices. They eloquently present evidence, examples, and critique of a new paradigm shift in education – Partnership with Students. Most, if not all, faculty realize the importance of engaging students in the learning process, but this book focuses on elevating the students’ role to that of a partner.
The entire idea of learning partnership is based on three core principles: respect, reciprocity, and shared responsibility. The faculty at UWGB who attended the book club meetings pondered these principles along with questions such as “how does the idea of partnership change your view of teaching?”, “how will students approach the learning environment when they are involved as partners?”, “what challenges are likely to arise when teachers partner with students?”, and “is it possible to promote student partnership at the institutional level?”
The book provides many practical examples of how the teaching and learning partnership model can be successful at all levels of the institution – with individual faculty, formalized programs and institutional foci. Our group spent much time discussing ways to implement it, or develop what we had already done, in our own respective disciplines.
I personally thought of how to improve on what I already had built in my teaching philosophy. I realized it will be more helpful to the quality of class discussion, that I have as an important pillar of my teaching, if I gave the students a chance to consider the questions before class. Therefore, I will be sharing the questions, in writing, with the students before the class time. While a small start down the road to student partnership, I’m excited for the potential to impact my classes and eager to grow it further to meet the lofty goals of the partnership model.
This book will be good source for any faculty member, beginner or very experienced who is interested in working with students as partners, and I recommend that you take a look.
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