On most of our nation's campuses, students and faculty working together as partners primarily means engaging in undergraduate research. Here at Western Washington University, however, a wide array of student-faculty collaborations are happening throughout departments and disciplines. Our campus has purposefully sought creative ways of connecting students and faculty as a means of actualizing the learner-centered institution.
These collaborations have become powerful venues for learning—for students and faculty alike. These associations between students and faculty have proven to be rich opportunities to explore new ideas, dialogue about learning and teaching, confront assumptions, exchange roles, and for those involved to enjoy each other's company.
This year's Innovative Teaching Showcase of these student-faculty partnerships not only provides evidence about the ways learning can be dramatically enhanced, but also brings to light how such collaborations have the power to transform our colleges and universities in unforeseen ways.
These collaborations have taught us what it truly means to become a learner-centered campus. Students must be expected to take responsibility for their learning through the process of "meaning-making" about the knowledge and skills they are learning as part of their higher education. Faculty must learn to listen to the voices of their students, and, as a result, attend to the learning needs and goals of today's students. Ultimately, student-faculty collaboration is about respect, trust, and relationship. Without these elements, a paradigm shift cannot occur.
We invite you to explore the case studies that profile some of the many student-faculty collaborations that have taken place here at Western during the 2003-04 academic year. Please contact the Center for Instructional Innovation and Assessment for more information about those collaborations that are of particular interest to you or to share your own examples of successful collaborations on your campus.