Students as Partners (SaP): interactive method

This design-based research project developed interactive tools to promote partnership between educators/staff and students.

Research Group
Authentic Leadership
April 2021 t/m December 2023
All locations
Contact person
Senka Rebac

The objective: to enhance the relationship between learners and educators

Students as Partners (SaP) essentially concerns the relationship between learners and teachers/staff. How does the relationship between students and teachers/staff/leaders function? How can partnership between them be realized? How we frame and enact this relationship requires attention. It can occur at various levels, locations, and in different ways. As future professionals, students should already be learning how to engage in meaningful and constructive relationships. In education, this means aligning what we aim to teach future professionals (e.g., taking ownership, demonstrating courage) with how we organize education (our approach to guidance and teaching).

Partnership includes aspects that are visible and easily discussed, such as young professionals participating in curriculum development. We refer to this as 'above the waterline'. However, much is also less visible and subject to negotiation within educational partnerships, such as power dynamics or differences in interests: this is the undercurrent, or 'under the waterline'. The aim of the 'Students as Partners: interactive method' project was to develop a method and tools to address these dimensions within the relationship.

This project is a sub-project of the NPO consortium Wellbeing and Connection (Welzijn en Binding). Through workshops, we enhanced the SaP Radar Method and devised interactive tools for facilitating group dialogue on both the visible and less visible aspects of partnership.

The SaP Radar is a method that fosters dialogue through a game-like systemic constellation on a canvas, outside of conventional settings and on diverse topics. This approach also encourages dialogue on "what could be". How does the partnership between learners and educators/staff/leaders function, and what constitutes desirable relationships?

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How did we conduct this research?

To improve the SaP Radar Method and develop interactive tools, we organized workshops. In these workshops, participants, including teachers, students, educators, staff, team leaders, and other relevant stakeholders within the educational institution, learned how to apply the SaP Radar.

From these workshops emerged the SaP Radar Game, the Mega Canvas, and the Online tool, catalyzing conversations about interrelationships and group dynamics and spurring collaborative initiatives. These interactive tools are intended for both learners and teachers within the educational institution. They are used to facilitate group dialogues and raise awareness about various aspects of partnership and relationships within education. These tools are designed to be used in a variety of settings, such as team meetings with class representatives, curriculum development sessions, evaluation meetings with students and teachers about a module, or other meetings where learners and teachers collaborate to improve education.

The development of the SaP Radar Method involved Jürg Thölke, lecturer Authentic Leadership; researchers Senka Rebac, Martijn Mesman, Philippa Collin, and Ilse Speelman; and graphic designer (alumni) Danielle Doria. Also participating were (alumni) students Yerin Koekkoek, Rohit Jahangier, Antonia Crivineanu, and Milica Matkovic.

Thanks to a Sia SPRONG Grant, we are also part of the Expertise Network Systemic Co-design (ESC) that brings together research, tools and field partners from four universities of applied sciences and together we will search for a new Systemic Co-design approach to accelerate transitions.


What is collaboration between teachers and students?

Is it a sense of being seen and heard? Can students and teachers stand side by side in the classroom? And can you, as a student or teacher, influence the direction of study? These are questions we ask at Inholland about the collaborations with our students, teachers, and researchers. In this video, some students and teachers talk about their experiences with Students as Partners. This video is co-created by and with students of Creative Business, who are now entrepreneurs in this field, under the name

The results: interactive tools for partnership

We developed a SaP Radar Game, Mega Canvas, and an Online tool as interactive tools. These are designed to foster conversations, provide insight into dimensions important to the group, and enable targeted improvements in education.

SaP Radar Game

We developed an interactive game to facilitate group discussions between teachers, staff, leaders, and students. This English language game is called “The Dialogue Quest: Uncover the Unseen, Speak the Unspoken.” Currently, there are 5 games, allowing for 1 to 5 groups at a time. Each group preferably consists of at least 2 coaches and 3 students, with a maximum of 3 coaches and 5 students per group/game.

SaP Radar Mega Canvas

We developed a 5 by 5 meter canvas to support group discussions among students, teachers, staff, and leaders. This canvas is suitable for larger groups, requiring a minimum of 5 teachers/staff and 5 students to ensure proportional representation of students. It facilitates a systemic approach to discussing the visible and invisible dimensions of partnership.

SaP Radar Online tool

This is the online version of the SaP Radar Method. It is an online tool that facilitates the collection of qualitative data in a visual format. It provides users with insight into their position on the SaP Radar dimension scale from 0 to 10. This online tool is scalable for large groups and offers immediate insight into differences, similarities, and potential concerns. The results can lead to the decision to organize a SaP Radar workshop, in the form of the game or canvas, allowing for deeper dialogue and mutual understanding.

Interested in strengthening the relationship between teachers, staff, leaders, and students?

Attend a SaP Radar workshop and improve dialogue

Do you also want to facilitate better dialogue among students and teachers, staff, and leaders? Do you want to contribute to improved partnership? Would you like to collaborate with students on curriculum redevelopment? Attend a SaP Radar workshop, learn to apply the SaP Radar, and then take action yourself! The workshops are beneficial for teachers, students, educators, developers, team leaders, and other relevant stakeholders in education.

Interested in a workshop? Please contact Senka Rebac via or via WhatsApp at 0031611428311.

About the SaP Radar Method

A catalyst for crucial conversations between teachers/staff/leaders and students

The SaP Radar Method has proven to be a versatile tool that reveals profound insights and challenges within the context of partnership between students and teachers, staff, and leaders. One notable observation is the role of the SaP Radar as a catalyst for crucial conversations and spurring joint initiatives. Not just a tool, but rather a facilitator of evaluation, feedback, and awareness. Thus, it has led us as participants and as researchers to a deeper understanding of the educational environment.

An example of an application of the SaP Radar Method can be seen in the current Comenius project Students as Partners

In this process, we experienced that fostering an open dialogue is invaluable, as it facilitates the free exchange of perspectives and expectations (being seen and heard). The SaP Radar also acts as a “baseline measurement,” where we critically evaluate the current situation. This process, aimed at answering the questions “Where are we currently, and what goals are we pursuing?”, aims to sharply map the direction of our partnership.

Students and teachers about the interactive method

“The SaP Method creates awareness of yourself.”

“It is very instructive to learn from students in this way.”

“I felt like I had an equal dialogue-partner.”

Importance for education

Students as Thinking Professionals

By involving students as partners in education, we strive to transform them into professionals who already think along, co-create their own education, and co-decide during their studies. This requires a growth mindset from faculty and a renewed view of partnership. The result is graduates who not only possess theoretical knowledge but also have the skills and mindset to contribute directly to practice. Thus, even during their studies, they are shaped into fully-fledged professionals capable of practicing their profession in a meaningful way, adding clear value to society.

We also work closely with researchers and professionals from various Inholland domains. This collaboration enables us to join forces and pursue a common goal: creating a college environment in which students are given the space to develop optimally into future professionals. It is important here that students are seen not only as recipients of knowledge but also as active partners in the educational process.

The Impact Achieved

The project has contributed to awareness about Students as Partners (SaP), inclusive dialogues, and partnership relations at 2 Faculties: Tourism Management in Rotterdam and Diemen, and Creative Business in Rotterdam; 6 labs (Urban Leisure Tourism Lab in Amsterdam & Rotterdam, International Music Industry Lab, Sluislab, Sustainable Media Lab, and CityLab Haarlem); and a Blended Intensive Program (BIP) in Haarlem with two international partners. This is a short blended mobility program developed in collaboration with partners and uses innovative ways of learning, teaching, and online collaboration. A total of 50 students, 19 learning coaches, and 5 others participated in (a total of) 16 SaP Radar workshops. 20 students and 4 coaches participated in the BIP.

In May 2024, we collaborated with our international partner in Cork, Ireland, Munster Technological University (MTU), and their Le Cheile Student Engagement Office. Together, we conducted four workshops using our SaP Radar method during the Leadership in Higher Education Summit, engaging leaders, teachers/staff, and students.

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