Let students take the LEAD as partners in learning and teaching – Alice Lee, Phoebe Woo
According to the “learning pyramid”, we can at most remember 20% of we have heard, and 10% of what we have read (National Training Laboratories Bethel, 2019). A conventional lecture setting is evidently not conducive to effective education. If we wish to maximise students’ learning capacity, we have to change the manner we learn and teach.
Through this co-authored article between a teacher and a student, we would like to promote partnership between students and staff from different disciplines in learning and teaching. Student-staff partnership is “a collaborative, reciprocal process through which all participants have the opportunity to contribute equally, although not necessarily in the same ways, to curricular or pedagogical conceptualization, decision-making, implementation, investigation, or analysis” (Matthews, 2019). It has been proposed that student-staff partnership can take place in four aspects, namely “subject-research and inquiry”, “scholarship of teaching and learning”, “curriculum design and pedagogical consultancy”, and “learning, teaching and assessment” (Mercer-Mapstone et al., 2019). In the following, we will explore the benefits of student-staff partnership from both theoretical and practical perspectives. In particular, we will highlight how student-staff partnership facilitates interdisciplinary exchange when it comes to the sharing of our first-hand experiences.
Why student-staff partnership in learning and teaching?
The idea of collaboration between students and staff is not new. Many educational establishments overseas have carried out pilot schemes to experiment with various ways to enhance interactions between students and staff, with the aim to improve their quality of education (e.g. Grayson, Blake, & Stock, 2018; Sather, 2018). Two benefits of student-staff partnership are commonly observed (see the Table “Positive outcomes of partnership for students” in Mercer-Mapstone et al., 2019).
First, students became more engaged in learning. In student-staff partnership initiatives, instead of passively consuming information, students were active participants in the process of acquiring knowledge. Students were motivated to make inquiries and express their views towards both academic and teaching and learning related matters because they were able to influence and even make pedagogical decisions. Their sense of belonging to the course and discipline increased as a result.
Second, unsurprisingly, students who have been involved in student-staff partnership initiatives demonstrated a better understanding of the learning materials, and some even show improved academic performance. The increase in students’ engagement in learning often brought about a positive change in their learning attitude. Students were more willing to explore beyond the syllabus and participate in intellectual discussions with their peers and teachers. What this tells us is that in a teamwork setting, students feel more at ease to apply and share their knowledge.
Our experiences in Legal Education Aligned with Diversity (LEAD)
Not only are the benefits of student-staff partnership affirmed by a large body of published literature, we (a student and a teacher) can also tell from our own experiences that we gained a lot from learning and teaching together.
Legal Education Aligned with Diversity (LEAD) was founded by a group of HKU law students and us in 2017 to promote student-staff partnership in education. To reinvigorate the law classroom, we produced a series of short videos that explain land law principles, and then shared it with other law students in class. The videos are accessible at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU9jyw5stukVubeYSkdEFeg/videos. During the video-making process, we had the chance to discuss in depth how the facts, legal reasoning and outcome of certain cases should be interpreted. We also worked out how to present our findings in a lively manner. We eventually decided to add some elements of humour into our videos since we agreed that “the judicious use of appropriate, relevant and inclusive humour can help create a friendly, unintimidating learning environment, which can in turn increase student engagement and participation” (Offer, Skead, & Seen, 2018).
Through LEAD, we personally experienced the benefits of co-designing and co-developing teaching materials. Having gathered law students from four different undergraduate law degree programmes1, LEAD provided a platform for its members to share and apply knowledge in areas other than law:
“I also find it rewarding when applying the marketing and presentation skills acquired in other business course in the video-making process”
– Matthew Cheung, BBA(Law) (2019)
Needless to say, what we have acquired was beyond legal knowledge. LEAD was fulfilling and unforgettable to all members of LEAD because it was:
“an opportunity for teamwork, which is a rarity in the LLB curriculum”
– Steve Lee, LLB (2019)
We recently launched our website, “CoLLab” to share our achievements and updates. You are most welcome to pay a visit and share its link, www.law.hku.hk/collab with your colleagues and friends!
We believe that student-staff partnership is the way to encourage more intellectual exchanges and thus create a better learning and teaching environment. We hope this article would incentivise more students and staff to collaborate in learning and teaching – may we invite each and every one of you to get on board and make a difference with us?
We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to all LEAD members, who devote time and effort to initiating changes in learning and teaching, as well as students and staff who have shown their support to LEAD.
- 1 They are the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) programme, the Bachelor of Business Administration (Law) and Bachelor of Laws (BBA(Law) and LLB) programme, the Bachelor of Social Sciences (Government and Laws) and Bachelor of Laws (BSocSc (Govt&Laws) and LLB) programme, and the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (BA and LLB) programme.
- Grayson, N., Blake, J., & Stock, M., (2018). The co-creation of exam support: students as partners in the research, planning, design and quality assurance of learning resources. Journal of Educational Innovation, Partnership and Change, 4(1), retrieved from https://journals.studentengagement.org.uk/index.php/studentchangeagents/article/view/767 accessed 19 September 2019.
- Matthews, K.E. (2019). Five propositions for genuine students as partners practice. International Journal for Students as Partners, 1(2), retrieved from https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v1i2.3315 accessed 19 September 2019
- Mercer-Mapstone, L.M., Dvorakova, S.L., Matthews, K.E., Abbot, S., Cheng, B., Felten, P., Knorr, K., Marquis, E., Shammas, R., Swaim, K. (2017). & , “A systematic literature review of students as partners in higher education” International Journal for Students as Partners, 1(1), retrieved from https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v1i1.3119 accessed 19 September 2019.
- National Training Laboratories Bethel, Maine, USA (2019). Learning Pyramid. Retrieved from https://www.fitnyc.edu/files/pdfs/CET_Pyramid.pdf accessed 19 September 2019.
- Offer, K., Skead, N., & Seen, A., (2018). “You must be joking”: The role of humour in the law classroom. The Law Teacher, 52(2), 135-153.
- Sather, A.C. (2018). Developing “Students as Learners and Teachers”: Lessons from ten years of pedagogical partnerships that strive to foster inclusive and responsive practices. Journal of Educational Innovation, Partnership and Change, retrieved from https://journals.studentengagement.org.uk/index.php/studentchangeagents/article/view/746 accessed 19 September 2019.