Using a ‘Students as Partners’ Approach for Designing Student Supports

  • Niamh Howlin University College Dublin
  • Cliona Kelly University College Dublin
Keywords: Students as Partners, Co-Creation, Student Suppports, Inclusion, Collaboration, Academic Advising


In this paper we argue that a ‘Students as Partners’ approach should be used when designing student support systems. The ‘Students as Partners’ or SaP framework, which emphasizes respect, reciprocity, and shared responsibility between faculty partners and student partners. It involves working collaboratively with student partners and ceding some control over processes and outputs. We demonstrate how a SaP approach worked in practice when redesigning an academic advisory system for students. The SaP approach helped to ensure that we identified students’ needs and expectations, as well as the barriers and challenges they faced. It also enhanced communication, respect and mutual understanding between faculty and students.This article also identifies some of the challenges associated with SaP, and reflects on both the positive and negative outcomes experienced by both the faculty partners and the student partners. The positives greatly outweighed the negatives, and we argue that SaP approaches ought to be mainstreamed when designing student supports systems.