Empowering Students in Higher-Education to Teach and Learn

Abstract

We explored opportunities, advantages and barriers to enabling students to establish student-led learning events at a New Zealand university. We used an action-research approach to explore if students felt empowered to use the infrastructure of this university to realise something that they themselves set out to achieve. We discovered that, in achieving a series of open discussions about sustainability, students adopted a democratic, distributed form of decision-making, not unlike a typical academic model, with leaders taking temporary roles that included passing on responsibility to those who followed. Students were proud of the events they created and identified the discussion format as something different from their experience as undergraduate students in our institution. This article, co-authored by staff and students, considers whether higher education processes that do empower students do so adequately and the extent to which students are prepared by higher education to take on powerful roles after they graduate.

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Correspondence to Kerry Shephard.

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Shephard, K., Brown, K., Connelly, S. et al. Empowering Students in Higher-Education to Teach and Learn. NZ J Educ Stud 52, 41–55 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40841-016-0072-x

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Keywords

  • Students as partners
  • Empowered students
  • Students as teachers
  • Student-centred learning and teaching
  • Blurring of teaching and learning roles