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Students-as-partners in health professional education: a qualitative research synthesis

Wednesday 3 July: Conference day one, 12:00pm – 12:30pm parallel session



Room 10 – 303-B07 Sem



Sarah Barradell
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

Amani Bell
The University of Sydney, Sydney School of Education & Social Work, Australia



Students-as-partners describes a process of staff and students working together for mutual benefit and to further common educational goals (Cook-Sather, Bovill and Felten, 2014). It is an idea based around reciprocity, respect and responsibility and encompasses a range of methods. Through a qualitative synthesis of published literature we aimed to systematically explore how health professional education has taken up this idea.

Our method was informed by the approach described by Major and Savin-Baden (2010). Over 50 publications from 2011-mid 2018 were identified in our search of seven databases. Three levels of analysis were conducted involving (i) data extraction for each publication, (ii) researcher’s interpretations of each publication and (iii) a third order through line analysis of the entire sample.

Five themes emerged as key findings from the third order analysis: 1) drivers for partnership; 2) framing of the partnership; 3) understanding of partnership; 4) sustainability; and the 5) inclusion of student voice. Staff and students typically partnered in response to practice related problems. Partnership outcomes tended to be of greater focus than the collaborative process and the collaborations were more practically oriented than theoretically grounded. This is in contrast to the general framing of students-as-partners work as a values-based approach. Certain types of partnership may have particular relevance for health professional education due to the nature of healthcare practice and professional oversight of education programs.

A strength of a qualitative research synthesis is that it creates a new perspective of a body of primary literature, not just a summary. For those new to students-as-partners, this work serves as a comprehensive introduction. For those with some familiarity, and regardless of field, the showcase will address three challenges related to students-as-partners work: the terminology of partnership; conceptual and theoretical framing; and how partnership might be understood and enacted in different disciplines.



Brayshaw, G., Brooke, J., Bryson, C., Foreman, S. & Graham, S. (2017). Modes of Partnership- Universal, Selective, Representational and Pseudo Partnership. Workshop presented at RAISE 2017
Cook-Sather, A., Bovill, C., & Felten, P. (2014). Engaging students as partners in learning and teaching: A guide for faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Healey, M., Flint, A., & Harrington, K. (2014). Engagement through partnership: Students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. York: The Higher Education Academy. Retrieved November 21, 2016, from through_partnership.pdf
Major, C., & Savin-Baden, M. (2010). An Introduction to Qualitative Research Synthesis: Managing the Information Explosion in Social Science Research. London: Routledge.


Presentation topic

Students – Working in Partnership

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