CBSI Student and Faculty Partners Collaborate to Improve Classroom Experience

A group of 7 people standing ourside a building.

For the vast majority of undergraduate students, the course curriculum and teaching methods they encounter are fully owned and administered by their professors without much feedback on the process. But for students at Embry-Riddle — particularly students in the College of Business, Security and Intelligence — the course curriculum and the methods to teach it are becoming a more collaborative endeavor.

Seniors Taylor Begley, Maren Rice and Sydni Stoffel are Student Partners — a unique role that tasks participating students with enhancing student-student and student-faculty collaboration, as well as fostering a more supportive learning environment.

The role and its related program are a joint effort with the Center for Teaching & Learning Excellence, dubbed Students-as-Partners (or SAP). Participating faculty receive weekly insight on their courses from the perspective of the student, while student partners hone a host of skills.

Stoffel, who worked with Professor Alan Saquella on SIS 352: White Collar Crime, described the program as instrumental to her overall development: “Collaborating with diverse groups of students enhanced my communication and leadership skills. It provided me with a deeper understanding of the course material as I had to articulate concepts to my peers. Additionally, the experience of working closely with Professor Saquella allowed me to gain insights into the academic and professional aspects of the field, contributing significantly to my growth as a future professional.”

Begley and Rice echo these sentiments, with Begley noting that the program presented her “with the opportunity to conduct in-depth research into highly specialized fields. [It] allowed me to understand how to design and facilitate material in a way that is relevant to everyone,” while she partnered with Professor Steven Hooper on multiple classes.

The SAP program began with a campus-wide pilot in Fall 2022, before launching in earnest in Spring 2023. According to Aimee Fleming, who serves as the associate director of the Center for Teaching & Learning Excellence, the program began with eight faculty and student partners, but “has continued to double in size and positive influence.”

In addition to the skills growth that student partners experience, faculty members benefit too. Fleming observed that faculty, “get a better understanding of the student perspectives in their course… Our faculty have reported feeling better connected with students, being reminded of what it is like to be a student, feeling more comfortable with engaging with students and increasing student engagement in their courses.”

For Fleming, one of the most gratifying parts of SAP has been the confirmation that “our students are one of the most impactful elements in our classroom, which is not surprising, but reinforced our thought process behind the program.” One recent mid-semester feedback survey for Spring 2024 found that 81% of classes felt a student partner positively impacted their learning. Feedback like “This experience changed how I do school,” underscores the importance of SAP.

Rice, who has previously worked with Dr. Tyrone Groh and now assists Fleming in growing the SAP program, can see why such feedback is possible: “Students in a class with a student partner have someone advocating for their learning experience every day. They benefit from the changes the student partner suggests on their behalf.”

Taken in total, SAP is a win-win for all involved — the student partner, the faculty partner and the students themselves.

The Dean for CBSI, Dr. Thomas Drape, is a strong supporter of CTLE and the SAP program. According to Drape, “Personal attention to student success is a hallmark value at Embry-Riddle, and the SAP program focuses on the engagement of the student in the learning process to truly move us closer to a transformative educational experience.”

To learn more about the Students-as-Partners program, check out this podcast episode.