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Reflections on student-staff research partnership: Opportunities, benefits, & challenges

West, Harry; Hill, Jennifer


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Mr Harry West
Senior Lecturer in Geography & Environmental Management

Jenny Hill
Associate Professor in Teaching and Learning


This paper explores the opportunities for student-staff partnership in the research process, before progressing to examine the benefits and challenges of such engagement. Using the model of Healey (2005), opportunities for student partnership in research will be mapped across the undergraduate learning journey. The authors will demonstrate how research partnership includes opportunities within and outside of the formal curricula. We suggest that partnership in this form operates as a “Borderland Space” (Hill et al., 2016) allowing for the re-conceptualisation of practices and identities. This transformative and novel learning experience has benefits in the form of the development of graduate attributes (Barrie, 2004). We highlight the important role for extra-/co-curricular activity in enabling the development of graduate competencies free from formal assessment. However, partnership can be challenging for both partners. The de-stabilizing of traditional power relations, shifting conceptualizations of identity, the sustainability of the partnership, the challenge of providing an inclusive curriculum, and ethics of co-research/publication, all come into play.

We conclude that undergraduate research is the pedagogy of the twenty-first century (CUR, 2005) and that partnership across the research cycle can prepare students for employment and citizenship in a rapidly changing world. However, fulfilling the promise of research partnership does require co-ordinated evolution of institutional policies that enable productive disruptions through partnership, and appropriate recognition and reward for staff and students.


West, H., & Hill, J. (2018, August). Reflections on student-staff research partnership: Opportunities, benefits, & challenges. Paper presented at Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference, Cardiff, Wales

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference
Conference Location Cardiff, Wales
Start Date Aug 28, 2018
End Date Aug 31, 2018
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2018
Publication Date Aug 29, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jun 7, 2019
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords reflections, student-staff research, partnership, opportunities, benefits, challenges
Public URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference