Co-create UVA is a collaboration between the student-led initiative ReinventED Lab and the Center for Teaching Excellence and explores questions such as these: Typically faculty teach to students. What happens if we framed the task differently, aiming to teach with students? What new possibilities emerge when students and faculty work together to co-design classes and curricula? Co-create UVA provides a platform for students to directly collaborate with faculty on courses and curricula. Our goal is to help transform the way we think about teaching and learning and further enrich UVa’s undergraduate education.
Co-create UVA hosts workshops and events, participates in the University-wide Innovations in Pedagogy Summit, and documents exceptional student-faculty partnerships around Grounds. In addition, with funding from the Jefferson Trust and the Provost Office, the Center for Teaching Excellence and Co-create UVA employ eight undergraduate students to serve as teaching consultants. These trained student consultants draw on their unique perspective as students and communicate this expertise to faculty. Read more about our student consultants here!
Part of a burgeoning national movement, student-faculty partnerships are defined as 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” (Cook-Sather, et. al. 2014). Research on student-faculty partnerships demonstrates significant benefits for all participants; students report deeper engagement in courses and increased metacognitive awareness, while faculty report an awareness of students’ experiences that transform how they think about and practice teaching (Cook-Sather, et. al. 2014). Read more about our research here!
Given UVa’s strong culture of student self-governance, the nationally discussed idea of student-faculty partnerships is bound to take a foothold on our Grounds. Student are already actively shaping their own learning experiences. Look Hoos Talking, Flash Seminars, and the Cavalier Education Program have been so successful that other institutions envy UVa students’ drive to take ownership of their education. Co-create UVA harnesses students’ energy and ideas to transform the educational experience for everyone.
Our interest in student faculty collaborations was piqued when Alison Cook-Sather, leading scholar of student-faculty partnerships, led a workshop in September of 2013 entitled Engaging Students as Partners in Teaching and Learning: Principles and Practices for Collaboration Within and Beyond the Classroom. She asked participants to ponder these questions: “What assumptions do we make about the role of students in the educational process? In what ways might students be teachers as well as learners? What would happen if we invited students to be our partners in teaching and learning?” This work resonated with the ways many University faculty were already working to engage students and the way UVa students define themselves as self-directed learners and leaders of their educational experiences. The steps required to fostering partnerships in our own learning community were within reach.
In the Fall of 2014, Dorothe Bach, Associate Director, Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), led an initiative to put these goals to action. She asked the CTE’s Graduate Student Associate Stephanie Doktor and Undergraduate Assistant Abby Deatherage to help plan our first event. After meetings with the Academic Affairs chairs of Student Council, Harlin Oh and Daniel Judge, and with another interested faculty member, John Alexander, we hit the ground running to plan our first student-faculty luncheon. It was a very successful, and positive feedback suggested we plan more programming around this idea.
It was after the luncheon we met Keaton Wadzinski, one of the organizers of the UVa branch of Student Voice. He and his colleagues inspired us to harness the creative energy of our unique student and faculty body. In the spring, we offered a Design Thinking Workshop on co-creating learning experience in the classroom. The success of this event led us to formalize our team, our name, and our vision on this website. We also began planning our long-term goals which include creating a formal group of student consultants available to work with faculty in improving their courses at any point in the semester. This summer we gave this idea a test run at the TRC’s Course Design Institute, where faculty participate in a week-long immersive workshop to design or redesign a course. Here, they had the opportunity to get feedback from UVa undergrads on the language and tone of their syllabus, the clarity and value of individual assignments, and how the course can be improved to excite and encourage students.
Help us continue our story! Attend our events and co-create your class with our student consultants!