Mind the gap: Teachers' conceptions of student-staff partnership and its potential to enhance educational quality

Samantha E. Martens*, 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


Introduction: Student-staff partnerships as a concept to improve medical education have received a growing amount of attention. Such partnerships are collaborations in which students and teachers seek to improve education by each adding their unique contribution to decision-making and implementation processes. Although previous research has demonstrated that students are favourable to this concept, teachers remain hesitant. The present study investigated teachers' conceptions of student-staff partnerships and of the prerequisites that are necessary to render such partnerships successful and enhance educational quality. Method: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 14 course coordinators who lead course design teams and also teach in 4 bachelor health programmes, using Bovill and Bulley's levels of student participation as sensitising concepts during data analysis. Results: The results pointed to three different conceptions of student-staff partnerships existing among teachers: Teachers teach and students study; teachers teach and value students' feedback; and teachers and students co-create. The prerequisites for effective co-creation teachers identified were: Teachers must be open to involve students and create dialogues; students must be motivated and have good communication skills; the organisation must be supportive; and teachers should have the final say. Conclusion: We conclude that teachers' conceptions are consistent with Bovill and Bulley's levels of student participation. Under certain conditions, teachers are willing to co-create and reach the highest levels of student participation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-535
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number5
Early online date20 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2020


  • Roles of teacher
  • undergraduate
  • general
  • evaluation


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