Student as Producer and thoughts on the benefits of process and liminality

I visited University of Lincoln with some colleagues to hear about the Student as Producer project. A Higher Education Academy funded project to embed research-engaged-teaching across the curriculum. A conference was held at the University of Lincoln on 26-27 June 2013 to mark the end of the funded period of the Student as Producer project.

What is Student as producer?

The conference was opened by Dr Mike Neary, Dean of Teaching and Learning at University of Lincoln, who is also the director of the Student as Producer project. The ‘Student as Producer’ has been the organising principle for teaching and learning since 2010 at Lincoln.

Dr Neary described the student as producer concept as a social movement, an act of resistance in response to the students as consumers rhetoric.  An essential part of the ‘student as producer’ is embedding research and research-like activities in the curriculum so that students become part of the academic community.

See the Student as Producer flyer for more information

Student as Researcher

Professor Stuart Hampton-Reeves delivered a really engaging and erudite keynote that was about his work in developing opportunities for undergraduates to engage in research. It was very interesting to hear about how the British Conference of Undergraduate Research had come about and definitely made our Huddersfield contingent determined to get involved in this somehow!

Stuart Hampton-Reeves is Professor of Research-informed Teaching and Head of the Graduate Research School at the University of Central Lancashire and chair of the British Conference of Undergraduate Research.

A Model for Meaningful Student Engagement: Students as Teaching and Learning Consultants workshop

My colleague Dr Liz Bennett and Dawn Bagnall, an undergraduate student in psychology, who has been working as a student consultant and I delivered a workshop on student engagement in relation to the Higher Education Academy funded ‘Students as Teaching and Learning Consultants‘ project, which we are all part of.

We asked the participants to consider what current methods they had for engaging students in teaching and learning and then using a ‘Ladder of participation’ model to discuss where the different methods were situated from non-participation, to tokenistic and fully empowered participation.

We then also briefly presented the Students as Teaching and Learning Consultants as one model for active student participation and student/staff partnerships and some of the feedback we have had from students and staff about the project.

Further reflections: conversational and collaborative spaces

Following the workshop and further reflection on the project after the conference, especially a comment from Professor Philippa Levy that partnership is a process, I am increasingly thinking about the importance of conversational spaces where student and staff can collaborate. And I think this is really central to the ‘Students as teaching and learning consultants project’.

The more I evaluate the project, the more I think it is about setting up a partnership model that is not just focused on outcomes and impact (though it does need to do this too).  A space where people can bring their different expertise, a space that is hopefully not dominated by traditional teacher/learner power relationships. In this model, there is structure in the student consultancy scheme in relation to how students and staff opt in and get recruited but there is also a much less structured negotiated space where students and staff have opportunities to engage in conversations about teaching and learning in a collaborative way. The students have been keen to expand and perhaps even step out of their normal student roles in order to engage with a staff perspective and this seems to have been the case for a number of staff who participated as well. I am reminded of the work by Alison Cook-Sather in which she suggests that undergraduates working as pedagogical consultants are in liminal positions, in-between being a student or being a member of staff.

“…we are interested in exploring liminality as a threshold between and among clearly established roles at which one can linger, from which one can depart and to which one can return. Specifically, we seek to understand what happens when undergraduate students take up a liminal position between student and teacher not with the goal of transitioning from the former to the latter but rather with the goal of accessing and acting upon the insights that such an indeterminate state affords and the potential that crossing and re-crossing the limen has to transform ongoing teacher/student relationships.

(Cook- Sather and Alter 2011: 38)”

Cook-Sather, Alison, and Zanny Alter, “What Is and What Can Be: How a Liminal Position Can Change Learning and Teaching in Higher Education,” Anthropology and Education Quarterly 42 (2011): 37-53.

I would argue that perhaps both student and staff are able to occupy a liminal position that offers different insights and produces a different kind of student/staff relationship. See also my earlier post on A new student role and a new relationship with staff which has some of the background for these reflections.

Take a look at the Student as Producer Storify for some great tweets and the story of the conference.

Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen)


About talintuoh

Supporting and connecting colleagues to develop inspiring and innovative teaching and learning
This entry was posted in Conference, HEASTLC, Research. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Student as Producer and thoughts on the benefits of process and liminality

  1. Pingback: The Future of Student Engagement – RAISE Conference 2013 | Teaching and Learning Institute

  2. Pingback: Using liminality to look at student/staff interactions | kshjensen – always learning

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