This blog reports on two ‘transitional space’ redesign projects recently published in a research article in the International Journal for Students as Partners. Both projects concerned spaces in the Blackett Building of Imperial’s South Kensington campus and help to demonstrate the power of a research-based, student-centred approach to education-space redesign. The first pilot project was completed just prior to COVID-19 and the second project carried out during the pandemic.
Evie Brass, Muqing Xue, Madhur Varadpande, Anushika Raheja, Nusrat Kamal and Camille Kandiko Howson
This is a student shapers project with the Centre for Higher Education Research and Scholarship (CHERS). The project focuses on scaling practices, looking at how they affect student competition, belonging and fairness. Scaling practices essentially means ‘grading on a curve’, such that the marks achieved by students are adjusted to match a desired distribution. With this in place, there is an unofficial quota for each degree class. The end-goal of this project is to improve the current systems in place to aid in increasing student belonging. This is primarily focused on attempting to reduce competition between peers. (more…)
I recently spent an interesting afternoon with other Student partnership practitioners and students engaged in student partnership initiatives at a half day meeting discussing power dynamics in staff-student partnership work at the University of Westminster. In recognition that our institutions instil a strong hierarchical structure amongst staff, and that generally the students fall beneath staff in that hierarchy in many contexts, provides us with a troublesome backdrop against which to facilitate student partnership projects. This backdrop leans towards uneven power distributions amongst co-workers on projects with the power bias typically leaning towards the staff. A thought provoking keynote talk by Dr Lucy Mercer-Mapstone extended this further, recognising that various characteristics such as gender, race and nationality could contribute further to the power dynamics amongst co-workers and create a complex intersectionality. (more…)