The Teaching and Learning Institute (TLI) emerged out of years of growth and development supported by grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation totalling over $1 million between 2006 and 2012. The signature program of the TLI, Students as Learners and Teachers (SaLT), conceptualized in 2006 and piloted in 2007, took as it first focus the support of faculty members working with students consultants of color to support the development of more culturally sustaining practices (see article here). Since its advent, SaLT has supported more than 265 faculty and 178 students (many of them also multiple times) in partnerships focused on pedagogical and curricular development and revision. The TLI also supports Open Pedagogy Conversations (forums for all faculty and staff to come together and discuss pedagogical issues), summer syllabus development workshops, and student-directed research projects.
Through providing forums within which students and faculty can reflect and engage in dialogue prior to the start of each fall semester (in the summer syllabus development workshops) and throughout the academic year (through SaLT and the Open Pedagogy Conversations), the TLI supports faculty and students in thinking about and developing approaches to the creation of standards for themselves, their classrooms, their learning, and their perceptions of and commitment to social justice. SaLT reaches the largest number of participants, with all of the 178 students and 258 of the 265 faculty noted above having participated in SaLT in more than 370 partnerships. These semester-long, one-on-one partnerships, focused on pedagogical and curricular development and revisions, create spaces and structures within which faculty and students can articulate their own and gain insight into one another's standards for learning and teaching—their principles to guide practice. These personal and professional standards are derived from each individual's identities, values, and experiences, and the sustained dialogues in which faculty and student partners engage affords them opportunities to identify and name their educational commitments, to develop attitudes or mindsets that support those, and to craft practices that enact them. Since its advent in 2006, SaLT has framed the development of such standards as equity work (see this article).
What is happening on campus?
During the Fall-2019 semester, over 20 student consultants worked with faculty across the disciplines in a variety of partnerships. Some worked within the context of the Faculty Pedagogy Seminar (offered to all incoming, continuing faculty), focusing on supporting new faculty in developing into the teachers they want to be in this context. Some worked with faculty outside of a seminar, in free-standing partnerships faculty requested to support reflection on their pedagogical innovations and challenges. And some worked within the context of a faculty pedagogy seminar supported by the Hurford Center for Arts & Humanities, the Provost’s Office, the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, and the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center at Haverford College. This seminar’s goal was to support faculty and their student partners in developing a co-curricular course that aims to provide students with opportunities to develop the cultural capital and language of the academic culture of power in order to successfully navigate the institutions as it is; affirm and deploy their lived experiences, knowledge, skills, and cultural backgrounds to challenge normative institutional culture and help create a departmental and institutional culture more welcoming and equitable to a diversity of students; and contribute to an evolving curriculum for future students. The goal is also to provide faculty opportunities to: contribute to the curriculum for the course; be recognized and compensated for the time they spend on mentoring and advising; develop insights into what students bring and can contribute not only to this curriculum but to a cultural shift in the department and at the College overall; and support students and faculty in partnering to foster a sense of belonging and transform institutional culture. All of this work is about faculty and students creating standards for themselves, their classrooms, their learning, and their social justice work.
What is happening off campus?
The work faculty and students do through the SaLT program contributes to national conversations about standards and quality. For instance, a recent set of talks and workshops Alison delivered at Kaye Academic College of Education in Be’er Sheva, Israel, focused on how to build partnership in teaching and learning around the principles (standards) of respect, reciprocity, and shared responsibility and how to work toward greater equity and inclusivity through pedagogical partnership. Similarly, suggesting that both the process and outcomes of student-faculty pedagogical partnerships might enrich our understanding of “quality” education, Maya Jonsson (SaLT student consultant, BMC '20) and Alison (in her role as director of TLI) were invited to speak at the Student Voices in Higher Education: Quality Assurance Perspectives and Practices Symposium at Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Ontario, Canada. Maya's remarks focus on how pedagogical partnership makes space for student voice and agency and promotes engagement (listen to excerpts from here talk here), and Alison’s talk, titled “Considering Outcomes of Student-Faculty Pedagogical Partnership as Quality Indicators,” argues that pedagogical partnership approaches, like that of the TLI’s SaLT program, recognize students as essential arbiters of quality education and teaching by positioning them as collaborators rather than consumers, ensuring that they are co-creators of quality indicators (Gillette-Swan & Cook-Sather, 2019).
The growing interest in the kind of pedagogical partnership SaLT enacts and models has led to numerous invitations to Alison to speak about this work. The map and list of institutions and locations at which Alison has spoken below gives a sense of the reach of the work. Pedagogical partnership programs developed at some of the locations listed that Alison has helped launch are also featured in a book Alison recently published and that is co-authored by two Bryn Mawr graduates: Pedagogical Partnerships: A How-to Guide for Faculty, Students, and Academic Developers in Higher Education, available for free download as the first book in Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning Open Access series.