Students as Partners

"I have a toolbox of accessible teaching and learning strategies that I can apply to my own learning. I also feel much more integrated into the Amherst community and I feel like a much more valued member of this community now compared to before I started this work. I have gotten to work closely, and develop more meaningful relationships, with more professors and students, and I can see the impact of my work surpassing my time as a P3."

Stephanie Masotti '22, P3 Student Fellow

The CTL is committed to centering students and student voice in the work that we do. While we are primarily a faculty-facing department, our partnerships with students shape our understanding of learning at Amherst and we value our direct and indirect work with Amherst students. We have goals to continue expanding partnership possibilities in ways that support the institution and individuals to become more innovative and evidence-based pedagogical problem-solvers. Below are some of the ways that the CTL partners with, facilitates, and celebrates partnership with students.

Unfortunately we have had to pause the Pedagogical Partner Program (P3) this academic year but we look forward to hiring an additional CTL professional to sustain and grow our work and re-launching P3 in 2022 - 2023.

P3 Community Commitments/Norms

Pedagogical Partner Program (P3)

The goal of the program is to facilitate thinking together about teaching and learning. The research indicates that partnerships improve the learning experience for all students and deepen reciprocal faculty and student empathy.

Pedagogical Research Associates

Course Development Seminar Analysis, Fall 2020 - Present

In a collaboration with DEI and educational development expert Dr. Kathy Takayama, the CTL hired three students to partner on analyzing data from the 2020 course development seminar in which 155 faculty participated for six weeks. The faculty engaged in reading, assignments, weekly discussion boards and synchronous topical workshops. Kathy was a facilitator of two 30-faculty cohorts in the summer seminar and then became a fantastic partner and consultant for the foundation of this research project. We developed a theory of change framework on and through which we articulated an (iterative) aspirational statement and then built our assessment strategy. We have been lucky to be working closely with Tylar Matsuo ('24), Jessica Yu ('22), and Ryan Yu ('22) who have completed many hours of qualitative coding, social network analysis (including beautiful and insight producing visualizations), literature review, interpretation, and report writing (coming soon!).

Student Focus Group Project, Fall 2018 - Spring 2019 Student Focus Group Training

PRA Reflections Video and Transcript

During the Fall of 2018 the CTL engaged two specific areas of exploration in order to support broader equity and inclusion initatives at Amherst College.

The first was to gain insight into how students experienced course level feedback mechanisms. This tied into the College's efforts to create an effective common evaluation form which was collaboratively developed over the academic year and passed by the faculty as a pilot in Spring of 2019. Riley Caldwell-O'Keefe partnered with pedagogical research associates Julia Turner ('19), Marco Trevino ('20), and Ryan Yu ('22) on this project.

The second was to better understand effective inclusive pedagogies in STEM. This project was informed by the ongoing CTL partnership with the HSTEM initiative. Sarah Bunnell and Thea Kristenson partnered with Billy Jang ('19) and Kelly Kim ('19) on this project. 

These five Amherst students and the team staff engaged in training at Southern New Hampshire University with Charlie Blaich and Kathy Wise of the Center of Inquiry at Wabash College for students to take the lead on designing and implementing student focus group projects. The students worked in their respective teams over the course of the fall to develop the research question and protocols and then run a total of almost 20 student focus groups in the Fall of 2018. The students then transcribed, coded, and discussed the focus group conversations before making recommendations and participating in larger institutional conversations relevant to their focus.

Additional Student Partnership Work

HSTEM logo of faces with HSTEM Being human in STEM text
In her work with the HSTEM course, Dr. Sarah Bunnell partners with faculty, staff, and students to co-design course curriculum and pedagogical practices. Assessment of the impact of HSTEM focuses in large part on the gathering of student narratives about their experiences and sense of thriving in STEM, as well as helping faculty and staff reflect on how their own thinking about themselves and their identities in STEM. Further, HSTEM is working to facilitate ongoing campus partnerships between college departments and HSTEM student partners, in order to support students as campus change-agents. Dr. Bunnell has presented this work, alongside several student co-authors, at multiple conferences. 
The STEM Incubator Program
Dr. Bunnell's work with the STEM Incubator has focused on pedagogical design as well as methods of assessing how participating in this six-week, interdisciplinary, cohort-based program contributes to students' sense of belonging, self-efficacy, and agency in STEM. Students' reflections on their past experiences in STEM and their newly gained confidence and empowerment in STEM have served as critical arguments for contining and expanding this program at the college. Dr. Bunnell and Professor Marc Edwards recently presented an assessment of the pilot year of the Incubator, focused on student experience and narrative, at the Association of American Colleges and Universities Diversity, Equity, and Student Success conference [link to poster].
 
Additional Faculty Examples
There are many faculty across campus who are partnering with their students in compelling and impactful ways. Check out our innovative teaching practices web page to see some of their approaches.