Students as change agents

Students as change agents

“There is a subtle, but extremely important, difference between an institution that ‘listens’ to students and responds accordingly, and an institution that gives students the opportunity to explore areas that they believe to be significant, to recommend solutions and to bring about the required changes. The concept of ‘listening to the student voice’ – implicitly if not deliberately – supports the perspective of student as ‘consumer’, whereas ‘students as change agents’ explicitly supports a view of the student as ‘active collaborator’ and ‘co-producer’, with the potential for transformation.” (Dunne in Foreword to Dunne and Zandstra, 2011, 4).

By involving students in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), we create opportunities for students to act as change agents to enhance the quality of teaching and learning practices and policies in their universities. Too often students are simply the subjects of our SoTL research; by engaging them as co-researchers and independent researchers we can give them a more empowering and transformative educational experience as producers and change agents. Students may be engaged in all four of Boyer’s (1990) scholarships – discovery, integration, engagement and teaching. This interactive workshop will focus on the last of these, in particular on how we may build on and move beyond listening to the student voice and involve students as change agents who can have an impact on the teaching and learning that they and their fellow students experience. It will draw on approx 50 mini case studies from UK and mainland Europe, Australasia and North America. The topic ‘Students as change agents’ is part of a wider debate on how students can be engaged throughout their undergraduate courses in producing knowledge, not just consuming it.

A video of the keynote presentation and panel discussion of ‘Students as change agents’ at ISSoTL12 in Hamilton, Canada on 25 October 2012 is below:


“It was an absolute pleasure to meet you, Mick, and have the opportunity to experience your expertise in the form of knowledge, skills, and attitudes… I can feel the passion that you have for what you do. I hope I’ll be able to make a difference wherever I go and with whatever I do. You do.”

Things I most liked about the session:
“It challenged everyone to think and contribute”
“Made me think about the levers of change”
“Case studies, discussions, and sharing ideas”
“A space to explore intellectual ideas about teaching and learning; something we don’t do often”
“Fantastic examples and very inspiring, challenging and constructive conversations”
“Focus on solutions, but still room for discussing challenges”
“Most inspiring”