Building learning partnerships for innovation and transformation in education: An example from a creative and innovative programme for educators at a leading Irish university


  • Stergiani Kostopoulou Dr.
  • Marie Doyle
  • Ha Thu Truong
  • Jean-Christophe Jacquier DR.
  • Joe Houghton
  • Alanna Swan
  • Grace O'Sullivan
  • Cécilia Travers
  • Alan Morgan Mr.


The need to engage students and staff effectively as partners in learning and teaching has been consistently emphasised in academic research and pedagogical practice. This article responds to this need by discussing the partnerships which were built in a creative education programme for educators from varied backgrounds, disciplines and institutions around the world at a leading Irish university. We discuss the different types of learning partnerships which are promoted during, outside and beyond the ‘Educators Programme’ and examine the pedagogical structures and processes which supported the development of partnership relationships. More specifically, we explain how the use of a Design Thinking methodology facilitated the formation of partnerships between programme facilitators and student-educators and also among student-educators, engaging them in i) collaborative learning ii) experiential learning, and iii) reflective practice. These processes were found to create an optimal environment for partnerships to grow. Psychological safety is presented as an essential foundational component for all of the above. Community of Practice is discussed as a positive outcome which naturally emerged from successful learning partnerships.

Overall, it is argued that the successful learning partnerships built through the programme offered student-educators transformative learning experiences which empowered them to lead innovation and effect change in their teaching practice. This reflective case study contributes to discussions of the processes of building engagement and partnership between students and teachers and offers inspiration and practical ideas which can be applied in other local and international educational contexts.

Keywords: Co-creation of learning; Community of practice; Design thinking; Experiential learning; Psychological safety; Reflective practice; Student engagement; Student-teacher partnership.