We are delighted to congratulate Roisin Curran who achieved her Doctorate in Professional Studies (Higher Education Practice) degree at the University on 23rd February 2017 for her work on ‘A Framework for Student Staff Partnership in Higher Education’. The study explored the experiences of staff and students working in partnership as part of the national What Works? Student Retention and Success Change Programme evaluated by the HEA.
Roisin’s research took place at the University of Ulster where she works as an Academic Developer. The research involved interviews with staff and students and showed the benefits of partnership working such as personal development and enhancement of the learning climate, but also the challenges including: time, resistance, and capacity of both staff and students. Insights gained led to understanding student engagement holistically from three dimensions: emotional, behavioural and cognitive. In a second phase of the research Roisin conducted focus groups with stakeholders and these helped her develop a framework and guide for students and staff to aid implementation of the ‘students as partners’ approach. The lessons learned from the project have been valuable to Roisin’s university but have also been extended to the HE sector more generally through publication in a peer reviewed journal, and dissemination of the research through the HEA and conference presentation.
Roisin’s work chimes well with that going on at Westminster on students as co-creators and a presentation of her work at the University to all those interested in developing the ‘Students as Partners’ approach is being planned for later this year. Roisin’s supervisors, Dr Pauline Armsby and Dr Steven Cranfield from the Westminster Business School’s Department of Leadership and Professional Development said that her research was a great example of a work-based learning doctoral project contributing to the theory and practice of HE, and that they were thrilled by her success.