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Respecting voices: how the co-creation of teaching and learning can support academic staff, underrepresented students, and equitable practices


Analyses of how staff and student voices are, or are not, respected in higher education typically unfold in separate conversations. In this discussion, I use narrative analysis of several sources—primary research data, informal participant feedback, and participants’ published essays—to present a case study of how the co-creation of teaching and learning through one pedagogical partnership program brings the voices of staff and students into dialogue. The case study reveals how participating staff and students can develop voices that both speak respectfully and are self-respecting and that can, in turn, contribute to the development of more equitable classroom practices. I provide context for this case study by bringing together key points from literature on staff voice and on student voice, defining co-creation, describing the partnership program, and explaining my research method. The case study itself is constituted by the voices of staff and students who have participated in the partnership program. Drawing on staff words, I show how co-creation supports those staff members in developing voice through dialogue with a diversity of students voices; generating ways of discussing and addressing inequity; and constructing more equitable classroom approaches. Drawing on students’ words, I show how co-creation supports those students in developing voice by positioning them as pedagogical partners to staff and inviting them into dialogue with their staff partners; affirming that they can carry those voices into courses in which they are enrolled; and emboldening them to participate in ongoing conversations about the experiences of underrepresented and underserved students.

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Many thanks to Beth Marquis for reading and responding to early drafts of this discussion and offering feedback that helped shape it, and thanks as well to three anonymous reviewers whose recommendations for revision strengthened the article considerably.

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Correspondence to Alison Cook-Sather.

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Cook-Sather, A. Respecting voices: how the co-creation of teaching and learning can support academic staff, underrepresented students, and equitable practices. High Educ 79, 885–901 (2020).

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  • Staff voice
  • Student voice
  • Co-creation
  • Pedagogical partnership
  • Underrepresented students
  • Equitable practices