Students and staff co-creating curricula - a new trend or an old idea we never got around to implementing?

  • Catherine Bovill, Academic Development Unit, Learning and Teaching Centre, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland

    There is growing interest in the idea of students becoming more active partners in designing and co-creating curricula with staff (Bovill et al, 2011; Cook-Sather, Delpish et al, 2010). Co-creation can vary greatly and might include: students feeding back on curricula to inform future teaching provision; students designing part of a virtual learning environment; students designing marking criteria; or students negotiating some of their learning outcomes. This research seminar will start with a presentation of the theoretical background and history to calls for increasing student participation in curricular design that demonstrate that our newfound interest in co-creation is predated by Dewey (1916) and others’ calls for co-created curricula back at the start of the 20th Century. Calls for co-creation of curricula have also been strongly evident in schools based student voice discourse and critical pedagogy literature. However, there has been less evidence of engagement in co-creation in higher education contexts until recently.

    This session will draw upon the historical background to student participation and co-creation to inform our current understandings and practices in this area. Participants will be invited to share examples of co-creation from their own practice, and I will present some examples from my recent research. These examples will be used as the basis for considering some of the common challenges faced in trying to make Dewey’s vision a reality, such as where programmes have professional body requirements or very large classes. Discussion will focus on finding solutions and possible future directions for co-creation of curricula within the higher education context.


    • Bovill C., Cook-Sather, A. and Felten, P. (2011) Changing Participants in Pedagogical Planning: Students as Co-Creators of Teaching approaches. Course Design and Curricula. International Journal for Academic Development 16 (2) 197-209
    • Cook-Sather, A. (2010). Teaching and learning together: College faculty and undergraduates co-create a professional development model. To Improve the Academy 29, 219-232.
    • Delpish, A., Holmes, A, Knight-McKenna, M., Mihans, R., Darby, A., King, K., & Felten, P. (2010). Equalizing voices: Student-faculty partnership in course design. In C. Werder & M. M. Otis. (Eds.), Engaging student voices in the study of teaching and learning (pp. 96-114). Sterling, VA: Stylus.
    • Dewey, J. (1916) Democracy and education: an introduction to the philosophy of education. New York: The Macmillan Company.