A students' take on student-staff partnerships: experiences and preferences

Samantha E. Martens*, Annemarie Spruijt, Ineke H. A. P. Wolfhagen, Jill R. D. Whittingham, Diana H. J. M. Dolmans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Students do not always feel that their ideas for improving educational quality are taken seriously. Student-staff partnerships may help take this feeling away. In such partnerships, students equally collaborate with staff and participate in shared decision-making and implementation processes for improving education. However, empirical research has hitherto paid scant attention to the question of how students experience such student-staff collaborations, whether they are willing to participate in these partnerships and, if so, under which circumstances. We therefore conducted an explanatory mixed-methods study, for which we administered a student-staff partnership questionnaire to 87 students and held four focus groups. In the students' view, students can provide a unique perspective on educational improvement. Yet, they did not consider their collaborations with staff as full partnerships, because their role remained restricted to giving advice and they were not involved in the implementation process. Although students felt respected by staff, they expressed a wish to be informed of what happened with their suggestions, and to be seen as equal partners while appreciating the difference in students and staff members' roles. Additionally, students pointed to a need for clear and well-communicated role descriptions. We conclude that to render student-staff partnerships effective, students should be empowered more.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)910-919
Number of pages10
JournalAssessment & Evaluation in Higher Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2019


  • Quality improvement
  • student-staff partnership
  • student voice
  • higher education

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