Trend Three: Equitable Access

15 Mar

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Engaging akonga and staff effectively as partners in learning and teaching is arguably one of the most important issues facing higher education in the 21st century. Akonga as partners is a concept which interweaves through many other debates, including assessment and feedback, employability, flexible pedagogies, internationalisation, linking teaching and research, and retention and success. Interest in the idea has proliferated in policy and practice in our nation and internationally, particularly in the last few years. The following research got me thinking about Equitable Access.

Wider economic factors are influencing a contemporary environment in which akonga are often positioned as passive consumers of, rather than active participants in, their own higher education. It is timely to take stock and distil the current context, underlying principles and directions for future work on akonga as partners in learning and teaching.

Some of the issues that I think that need to be considered are:

  • offer a pedagogical case for partnership in learning and teaching;
  • propose a conceptual model for exploring the ways in which akonga act as partners in learning and teaching;
  • outline how the development of partnership learning communities or whanau may guide and sustain practice;
  • map the territory of strategic and sustainable practices of engaging akonga as partners in learning and teaching across diverse contexts;
  • identify tensions and challenges inherent to partnership in learning and teaching, and offer suggestions to individuals and institutions for addressing them;
  • identify priorities for further work.

Partnership is framed as a process of student engagement, understood as staff and akonga learning and working together to foster engaged student learning and engaging learning and teaching enhancement. In this sense partnership is a relationship in which all participants are actively engaged in and stand to gain from the process of learning and working together. This approach recognises that engaged student learning is positively linked with learning gain and achievement, and argues that partnership represents a sophisticated and effective approach to student engagement because it offers the potential for a more authentic engagement with the nature of learning itself and the possibility for genuinely transformative learning experiences for all involved. Hence, we speak of engagement through partnership. Partnership as a process of engagement uniquely foregrounds qualities that put reciprocal learning at the heart of the relationship, such as trust, risk, inter-dependence and agency. In its difference to other, perhaps more traditional, forms of learning and working in the academy, partnership raises awareness of implicit assumptions, encourages critical reflection and opens new ways of thinking, learning and working in contemporary higher education. Partnership is essentially a process of engagement, not a product. It is a way of doing things, rather than an outcome. All partnership is student engagement, but not all student engagement is partnership.

I think I wondered off the topic but again challenging thoughts.

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