Research on Teaching and Learning Conference: Exploring Teaching and Learning Partnerships in Higher Education

Registration is now open for the annual Research on Teaching and Learning Conference: Exploring Teaching and Learning Partnerships in Higher Education, hosted by the Paul R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching. The conference this year will be held at McMaster Innovation Park (Hamilton, ON) on November 16th & 17th, 2017.

The program for the conference will consist of paper presentations, workshops, panel discussions, poster sessions, and keynote presentations. Conference sessions will cover a range of topics, including:

  • Faculty-staff-student partnerships
  • Industry partnerships
  • Experiential and community-engaged education
  • Diversity and inclusion in higher education
  • Digital learning

For the conference program and registration details, please visit:

Conference Keynote Presentations

Alison Cook-Sather






Working toward Greater Equity and Inclusivity through Pedagogical Partnership

A growing body of research asserts that higher education is failing “as the great equalizer” (Carnevale & Strohl, 2013; Devlin, 2013; Hockings, 2010; US Department of Education, 2016) and that, in particular, “noninclusive pedagogies and ineffective college and university cultural programs” ensure that students from underrepresented backgrounds “continue to experience racism, insensitivity, and a lack of intercultural understanding and social support” (Simmons, Lowrey-Hart, Wahl, and McBride, 2013, p. 2). In this keynote I will describe two forms of a partnership approach that aim to address this problem: (1) pedagogical partnerships between students and faculty focused on making classroom practices more inclusive and responsive, and (2) research partnerships through which students, faculty, and staff collaborate to gather, analyze, and present findings regarding inclusive and responsive practices. After an overview of the main arguments presented in the literature on the practice of and research on pedagogical partnership, I will describe a classroom-focused pedagogical partnership program I have directed for ten years and draw on data from research projects I have maintained throughout that time funded by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. Both the program and the research have positioned students from equity-seeking groups as “holders and creators of knowledge” (Delgado-Bernal, 2002, p. 106)—as student partners and co-researchers. I will share recommended strategies from our partnership practice and research regarding how to work toward greater equity and inclusivity, and I will invite the audience to reflect on where in their practice they do or could incorporate such strategies.


Carnevale, A., & Strohl, J. (2013). Separate and unequal: How higher education reinforces the intergenerational reproduction of white racial privilege  (Report from Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce). Retrieved from

Delgado-Bernal, D. (2002). Critical race theory, Latino critical theory, and critical raced-gendered epistemologies: Recognizing students of color as holders and creators of knowledge. Qualitative Inquiry, 8(1), 105–126. doi: 10.1177/107780040200800107

Devlin, M. (2013). Bridging socio-cultural incongruity: Conceptualising the success of students from low socio-economic status backgrounds in Australian higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 38(6), 939-949.

 Hockings, C. (2010). Inclusive learning and teaching in higher education: A synthesis of research. York: The Higher Education Academy.

Simmons, J., Lowrey-Hart, R., Wahl, S. T., & McBride, C. (2013, July). Understanding the African-American student experience in higher education through a relational dialectics perspective. doi:10.1080/03634523.2013.813631

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development and Office of the Under Secretary. (2016). Advancing diversity and inclusion in higher education. Washington, D.C.

Sandy Raha






It takes a community to develop a student program: McMaster Children and Youth University in action

The McMaster Children and Youth University (MCYU) is a multidisciplinary community engagement platform, from an idea that originated in Germany, and is the first Children’s University program in Canada. Since its inception, seven years ago, MCYU has developed 3 key components designed to engage youth and their families with the goal of developing engaged citizens who are curious about exploring post secondary opportunities.  These components include 1) An on-campus lectures program which allows families to share the research experiences of our faculty, (2) MCYU in the City – which is an outreach program delivered by McMaster students that takes hands-on learning experiences out to the community; developed in conjunction with community partners (3) The MCYU in City facilitator training program – which provides McMaster students training in knowledge communication and community engagement.  All of our programming is inquiry-based and follows the credo follows the credo Question, Discover, Create TM . The key to our growth has been the collaborative strategy employed to develop our partnerships that include McMaster-based groups, child advocacy group, the City of Hamilton and the Hamilton Wentworth Board of education.  The central partners for our program are the youth and families whom we serve. We foster this partnership by giving them an active voice in how the program is developed through the implementation of a youth advisory board. This community based approached has resulted in more than a 200% growth of our program over the last three years.

Patrick Byrne






Students Take Over City Hall: The Adventurous Partnerships of CityLAB

What if we could take students out of the classroom and into the city to work directly on projects that would make the city a better place to live? This ambitious goal is the idea behind CityLAB Hamilton, a 3 year pilot project that takes partnership as a central organizing principle to create opportunities for students, city staff, and faculty to engage directly in real, complex problems, in a spirit of cooperation. CityLAB, made up of four partners – the City of Hamilton, McMaster University, Mohawk College, and Redeemer University College – is part of a growing movement that seeks to spark innovation at a municipal level by meaningfully involving young people in projects that will shape the future of their cities. Partnerships such as this one are not without challenges, particularly as we endeavour to meaningfully include the unique visions of each institution into a cohesive model. But as we navigate this complexity from an institutional perspective, we are cognizant of the rich example CityLAB provides for students who are likewise leaving their comfort zone and engaging in the difficult, often messy, and always fascinating world beyond the ivory towers.

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