We are delighted to congratulate Roisin Curran on achieving her Doctorate in Professional Studies (Higher Education Practice) degree at Westminster Business School. She achieved her doctorate on 23 February 2017 for her work on ‘A Framework for Student Staff Partnership in Higher Education’. ​

Roisin’s supervisors, Pauline Armsby and Steven Cranfield said that her research was a great example of a work-based learning doctoral project contributing to the theory and practice of higher education. They are thrilled by her success in completing her degree in just four and a half years (part-time) with no revisions. The study explored the experiences of staff and students working in partnership as part of the national ‘What Works Change Programme’. It is evaluated by the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

Roisin’s research took place at the University of Ulster where she works as an Academic Developer. The research involved interviews with staff and students and showed the benefits of partnership working. Benefits include personal development and enhancement of the learning climate, but there are also challenges such as time, resistance, and capacity of both staff and students. Insights gained led to understanding student engagement holistically, from emotional, behavioural and cognitive points of view.

In the second phase of the research, Roisin conducted focus groups with stakeholders. These helped her to develop a framework and guide for students and staff to aid implementation of the ‘students as partners’ approach. The lessons learned from the project have been valuable to Roisin’s university but have also been extended to the wider higher education sector through publication in a peer-reviewed journal and dissemination of the research through the HEA and conference presentation.

Roisin’s work chimes well with the work going on at Westminster on students as co-creators. For those interested in developing the 'Students as Partners' approach, a presentation of her work is being planned by the Centre for Teaching Innovation for later this year. 

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