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Faculty Engagement - Student as Colleagues

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Front Page / Campus-Wide Integration /Faculty EngagementGuides / Students as Colleagues


Faculty Engagement 

Students as Colleagues: Collaborators to Faculty for Integration

Overview   | Guides  | Campus Examples |  Documents to Download


"Students as Colleagues" is a term that signifies how students play a leadership role on campus, in courses, and with faculty in community engaged learning experiences. The term also can be found in the scholarship of engagement. Richard Battistoni and Nicholas Longo address it in this article "Putting Students at the Center of Civic Engagement," found in To Serve a Larger Purpose: Engagement for Democracy and the Transformation of Higher Education, edited by John Saltmarsh and Matthew Hartley.


In the Classroom

 Seven principles that can help to improve undergraduate education are identified. Based on research on college teaching and learning, good practice in undergraduate education:

(1) encourages contacts between students and faculty;

(2) develops reciprocity and cooperation among students;

(3) uses active learning techniques;

(4) gives prompt feedback;

(5) emphasizes time on task;

(6) communicates high expectations; and

(7) respects diverse talents and ways of learning.


Examples of good approaches include: freshman seminars on important topics taught by senior faculty; learning groups of five to seven students who meet regularly during class to solve problems set by the instructor; active learning using structured exercises, discussions, team projects, and peer critiques, as well as internships and independent study; and mastery learning, contract learning, and computer-assisted instruction approaches, which required adequate time on learning.


In Project Design

 A collaborative student led model that placed student teams as researchers and central actors in the planning, organization and implementation of their own community action projects.  The model included: 1) facilitated democratic group decision making and a collaborative process for choosing projects; 2) in class "work days" to support students’ independent action and scaffolding the skills they needed to engage community organizations responsibly; 3) regular “theory-to-practice challenges;” 4) written work emphasizing theory connections in community life, including reflection papers, a theory paper, and a final paper integrating course texts and the action project; and 5) comparative case studies for context and empirical grounding in human rights issue areas.


On Campus

 As faculty members, academic administrators, and student life staff, time is spent on trying to understand students, colleagues, institutions, and the personal self. There are seven principles of good practice when integrating relationships with students: (1) encouraging contacts between students and faculty, (2) developing reciprocity and cooperation among students, (3) using active learning techniques, (4) giving prompt feedback, (5) emphasizing time on task, (6) communicating high expectations, and (7) respecting diverse talents and ways of learning. 


In the handout on Students as Colleagues, which captured some of the models for programs that campuses in the Bonner Network were using, you can learn more. In this handout, you will find more detailed examples and a downloadable handout with examples from Allegheny College, Berea College, Oberlin College, Saint Mary's College of California, and Siena College. 


Examples of "Students as Colleague" Roles

Academic Roles

  • Faculty fellow roles for students and/or teaching assistants for community engagement courses
  • Coordinating academic service-learning and student-led community service
  • High Impact Intern (i.e., working with team of faculty and administrators on linking high-impact practices with community engagement)
  • Assisting with course inventories and review of syllabi as part of tracking community engaged learning (i.e., Carnegie Classification applications)
  • Teaching (i.e., teaching Social Action course, as a student at Earlham did in 2018) 


Program Roles 

  • Bonner Scholars Program-Congress Representatives and Senior Interns
  • Site/Team Leaders for Community Partners where multiples students and/or faculty engage
  • Program Assistants
  • Community service outreach interns (i.e., mobilizing students across campus into engagement)
  • Researchers and Program Design (inventory courses and develop a web-based resource)
  • Community-Based project, paper, and presentation 


Typical Benefits of these Models

Campuses design and implement strategies to integrate student, faculty, and partner voice in curricular integration. 

  • Students: Students are responsible for their project (not their staff supervisor), structure allows for freedom within parameters, support from staff and other leaders, able to connect with peers as leaders (mentor one another), more awareness to different issue areas, build skills, develop young professionals, receive college credit for independent study courses, and sometimes their work gets published.


  • Faculty: Teaching assistants help faculty (who are open and excited to work with students) manage additional demands with teaching a community-based learning course.


  • Community Partners: Serve as co-educators (working with students), students can support community partner capacity building through their work and provide connections to faculty members and other college resources.


  • Staff/Administrators: Student staff members provide valuable input on programming and policies and assist in building relationships with faculty members interested in community-based learning. 


Training Students as Colleagues

Create and implement training and support for students:


  • Establish leadership levels (volunteer, student program coordinator, project leader)

  • Find and/or design specific program training in areas such as:

  • community engaged learning and service-learning

  • reflection design and facilitation

  • project management,

  • volunteer recruitment,

  • academic course/syllabus design

  • meeting design and facilitation

  • developing rapport with faculty

  • organizational skills (such as using Google calendar and Google forms)

  • provide readings such as A Crucible Moment or from the Faculty Reading Groups or Learning Circles model


Examples of Models/Structures


Read more about these models in the "Students as Colleagues" handout. 


  • Community Engaged Research Fellows (Oberlin) 
  • ACES Fellow Program/ Gateway Project (Allegheny)
  • Service-Learning Team and Coalition of Projects (Berea)  


Back to other Guides on Faculty Engagement