RAISE Conference Pt. 2

Continuing from where I left the last blog, I’d like to share a couple more highlights from the RAISE Conference with you all.

Many of us spend substantial time within our institutions discussing the value of student-staff partnerships and encouraging partnership approaches more broadly. However, how often do we pause to consider how that discussion might be framed in the context of who we might be talking to? The focus of a workshop delivered by Dr Lucy Mercer-Mapstone on the final day of the RAISE conference was on examining how student-staff partnership can be introduced according to five different entry point narratives. Each narrative was approached from a different theme:

  • Student expertise
  • Employability
  • Alumni engagement
  • Lifelong learning
  • Radical practice

The narratives were developed by Lucy in collaboration with Assoc. Prof. Kelly Matthews from the University of Queensland, to equip practitioners to engage diverse audiences in dialogue around student-staff partnership. Drawing on Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle of Communication approach, each invitation is structured to tap into why someone might be motivated to invest in partnership rather than focusing on the product or process of partnership itself (e.g. partnership agreements, rep structures, assessment co-design, etc.).

After workshop participants were presented with the five narratives, Lucy asked us to consider what the benefits, risks, ideological assumptions, audience, and purpose might be connected with each one. We were also encouraged to think of further narratives to encourage partnership beyond the five presented.

I found this session so illuminating and it made me rethink how I can approach my work and persuade others to take up student-staff partnership in their own terms.  You might also like to consider how you might invite colleagues to begin a journey into partnership by tapping into what motivates them?

A special shout-out to Dr Amani Bell from Western Sydney University (also the current IRU Vice Chancellors’ Fellow) who delivered a wonderful closing keynote on recent research she took part in around ‘understanding the experiences of first generation university students through collaborative & culturally responsive approaches’.

Moving away from a discourse of disadvantage to a strengths based approach, Amani unpacked the culturally responsive and sustaining methodologies used by the researchers, to explore the diverse experiences of first generation students as they transition into and engage with higher education. It was interesting to hear from Amani how first gen students involved in the research demonstrated resilience during their time at university, and how they were able to articulate their successes and challenges. Further consideration was also given to exploring how universities might better serve first gen students, and how we all need to hold our own universities accountable for what is promised in mission/values statements in regards to equity & inclusion. The recently published book Amani co-edited on the above can be found here.

That’s my wrap up from the RAISE Conference. I hope you are able to draw some inspiration, as I have, from the sessions I have chosen to highlight on this blog.

A reminder that the RAISE network also has a peer reviewed journal – Student Engagement in Higher Education – which focuses on publishing research, theory, practice and policy about student engagement. I highly recommend you take a look.

Kate Walsh

Project Manager, Student Voice Australia Pilot

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