“My opinion matters” – Students as Partners in Curriculum Design


DEC, 2019
Students as Partners
Teaching & Learning

Digital Innovation

Ever wonder what your unit would look like if students designed it?

That’s a pretty radical idea – staff expertise and guidance is essential to the learning experience. But it is possible to partner with students to co-create and co-design your curriculum – what might that look like?

In the CloudFirst CoDesign Project, we worked in partnership with Prakash Jha, a Master of Business Analytics student, to identify opportunities for student involvement in curriculum design. Using Deakin’s new Students as Partners framework we co-created the Student Participation Matrix to show how students can be involved as sounding-boards, influencers, decision-makers and co-creators.

Involving students can help you identify challenging areas, find new ways of presenting information or help develop a shared understanding of unit standards (which also develops students’ evaluative judgement!). For example, if students find it tricky to understand assessment requirements, you could partner with past students to redesign the assessment rubric, or create supporting resources – like this video by Law students Ruby Cordner and Brody Wons with Course Director, Sharon Erbacher.

If your students are from different disciplines, ask them to help you choose case studies relevant to their interests and career goals. Or start at the beginning, and bring a group of students together to find out what they thought worked really well, what was challenging and what could be done differently next time. 

Staff-student partnerships have benefits for both staff and students, including enhanced engagement, improved classroom experiences and assessment performance, a sense of belonging and trust, and enhanced relationships and wellbeing (Bovill, 2019). As Prakash explained:

“This collaborative approach helps both staff and students. While the academic team gets students’ perspective and feedback from their recent experiences, students too get some benefits such as feeling more invested in their education, taking responsibility for their learning and getting experience in co-creating the learning materials with staff.”

Prakash Jha – CloudFirst student partner

To find out more about how you could partner with students in curriculum design, contact us (d.taylor@deakin.edu.au or joanne.elliott@deakin.edu.au). As for the ‘why’, we’ll let Prakash have the last word!

“I have been learning through Cloud Deakin and classroom lectures, but this internship gave me opportunity to understand the effort and the process behind the unit design. Every day, I felt that as a student my opinion matters, and I felt important. In fact, I felt that I can bring a difference, a positive change by sharing my experience about my learning journey. And this is the best experience for me so far.”

Prakash Jha, CloudFirst student partner

*To support more staff to engage with student partners, Deakin has launched a SaP Community of Practice – contact Jo Cook to get involved. And keep an eye out for next year’s National Students as Partners Roundtable (28th August), hosted by Deakin, to share your experiences and learn from others.


Bovill, C. (2019). Student–staff partnerships in learning and teaching: an overview of current practice and discourse. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 1-14. doi: 10.1080/03098265.2019.1660628

Deakin University. (2019). Deakin Students as Partners: A guide to enhancing the student voice across Deakin. Retrieved from here

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