We know from adult learning theory (Knowles, 1990) that, as adult learners, faculty will be most likely to engage in and benefit from learning about their practice if they feel self-directed, which includes feeling autonomous in their time management. However, the capitalist-driven pressure to be efficient and productive that permeates much of higher education can undermine faculty sense of self-direction and autonomy in how they spend time preparing for and reflecting on their teaching. In particular, that pressure can make time spent on embracing human, relationship-focused conceptions of growth in their own learning and in their students’ learning seem to faculty to be an unwise use of time, despite both long-standing (Freire, 1972; hooks, 1994) and newer (Felten & Lambert, 2020; Felten et al., 2023) scholarship that affirms the power of relationship-rich education.

Offering faculty educational development opportunities at the intersection of efficiency- and growth-driven influences can foster self-directed, meaningful, and empowering ways to conceptualize and use time. This article explores how faculty think about, experience, and make choices about time during and after participating in a particular form of educational development: pedagogical partnership through which undergraduate student consultants work with faculty on preparing for and reflecting on teaching. Previous research and anecdotal evidence suggest that this form of educational development has potential to contribute to faculty feeling more self-directed and autonomous in their time management, thereby empowering themselves through “rethinking time.” My hope is that the findings of this study inform whether and how educational developers and the faculty they support choose to invest (some of) the time they have in pedagogical partnership.

This study centers on responses to a survey completed by a subset of faculty who have participated in a student-faculty pedagogical partnership over the last 17 years. To frame my analysis, I provide a short section on conceptions of time, equity, and pedagogical partnership and an explanation of my context and methods. I then focus on faculty experiences and perspectives while in partnership, which they describe as a useful and practical way to spend time, a source of insight into the student perspective and experience, an inspiration to use time to center student learning, and a worthwhile investment of time to grow as reflective practitioners. Next, I turn to faculty experiences and perspectives after participating in a pedagogical partnership; they describe being inspired to carry forward new understandings of the importance of spending time outside of class reflecting on teaching, feeling more confident and capable in planning for teaching, using time differently in class, and continuing to invest time in revising their sense of self as a teacher in meaningful learning relationships with students. I conclude by offering recommendations for educational developers who wish to support faculty in rethinking time through creating or expanding opportunities to participate in student-faculty pedagogical partnerships.

Conceptions of Time, Equity, and Partnership

“Time” refers to or evokes many things. As a noun it can refer to the indefinite, continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future that are typically understood as a whole. In some cultures, that continued progress is broken up into segments (minutes, hours, days, years, etc.), also understood as time. Much of teaching in many contexts is conceptualized in terms of these segments. As a verb, time can refer to the measurement of a planned segment. We time how long a class session takes, and we consider and make decisions about how much time we put into preparing for those sessions. Time is therefore a complex intersection of the indefinite and the definite, the abstract and the very concretely lived. We talk about being on time and in time, working against time and having time on our side. We all live according to it, but not necessarily in the same ways. Like so many dimensions of human experience, time can be liberating or constraining, and differently positioned people have different amounts and kinds of it.

Arguing for the ways in which our institutions of higher education need to become more inclusive, David Asai (2021), program officer with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, contended that “structural and behavior changes will not happen only by spending money. What is required is a different currency to leverage genuine culture change. And that currency is time.” Asai’s use of “currency” here is intriguing not only for the way he challenges how higher education invests but also for the secondary meanings of the term: the quality of being generally accepted or in use, as well as the time during which something is in use. In his remarks on time, made at a SEA Change session sponsored by the Accelerating Systemic Change Network, Asai highlighted the necessity of making, using, dedicating, and valuing time to reflect on and change the “structures of . . . education that uphold the culture of exclusion”; to learn “the skills of inclusion and practice the skills of listening, so that we can talk candidly about race, racism, and cultural privilege”; and “to hold ourselves accountable by taking action, and then assess the effectiveness of our actions.” The critique implicit in Asai’s remarks throws into stark relief the ways dominant cultural practices in higher education currently engage with time in harmful ways that necessitate healing (Estrada & Asai, 2022).

Speaking to Asai’s (2021) points above, investing time in pedagogical partnership work holds particular promise for redressing harm and for healing. Former undergraduate student consultant Alexis Giron (2021) wrote about how pedagogical partnership can provide an “opportunity to heal from all the harm that higher education and educators have caused” (p. xiii), and scholars have argued that partnership work raises awareness of equitable practices such that those can be more intentionally implemented (Cook-Sather, 2020, 2022; Cook-Sather, Felten, et al., 2024; de Bie et al., 2021). In addition, pedagogical partnerships foster a sense of belonging and mattering, especially important for equity-seeking students (Colón García, 2017; Cook-Sather, Felten, et al., 2024; Latin, 2022; Perez-Putnam, 2016) and for new faculty or those from underrepresented groups (Cook-Sather, 2020; Cook-Sather & Felten, 2017; Cook-Sather, Felten, et al., 2024; Cook-Sather, Hong, et al., 2021; Cook-Sather, Stewart, et al., 2023).

The definition of pedagogical partnership underpinning this discussion is “a collaborative, reciprocal process through which all participants have the opportunity to contribute equally, although not necessarily in the same ways, to curricular or pedagogical conceptualization, decision making, implementation, investigation, or analysis” (Cook-Sather, Bovill, et al., 2014, pp. 6–7). Students and faculty work together through pedagogical partnership to shape their educational environment, practices, and outcomes (Bryson et al., 2016). This form of educational development is enacted through “an ethic of reciprocity”—a “process of balanced give-and-take not of commodities but rather of contributions: perspectives, insights, forms of participation” (Cook-Sather & Felten, 2017, p. 181)—and it is premised not only on reciprocity but, as the definition above suggests, on respect and shared responsibility for teaching and learning (Cook-Sather, Bovill, et al., 2014).

Context and Methods

The goal of this research was to explore how faculty participants in a particular pedagogical partnership program, Students as Learners and Teachers (SaLT), experience time during and after their partnership work. Based at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges, two liberal arts institutions in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, SaLT is a decades-old model of educational development that pays undergraduates to take up semester-long, one-on-one, pedagogical partnerships with faculty members. This work falls into the arena of student-faculty partnership work that Healey et al. (2016) called curriculum design and pedagogic consultancy. Typically, student consultants conduct weekly classroom observations, meet weekly with their faculty partners, and meet weekly with me, as the facilitator of the program, and small cohorts of three to five other student consultants. These student consultants are neither enrolled in the course on which they and their faculty partners focus nor do they necessarily have knowledge of the subject matter of the course (see Cook-Sather, 2016, for an overview of SaLT).

The data for this study were drawn from a short, ethics board–approved, anonymous Qualtrics survey that I sent to 65 faculty who had participated in SaLT over the last 17 years and who had indicated that they would be interested in ongoing dialogue about their experiences. The survey contained the following questions:

  1. Please describe how you spent time with your SaLT student consultant(s).

  2. In what ways did you experience time through this work with your SaLT student consultant(s) while you were engaged in it? Specifically, in what ways, if any, did you use, make, save, waste, and/or reconceptualize time in reflecting on, planning for, and revising your teaching approaches? How did those experiences of time feel more, less, or differently useful than planning and reflecting on your own?

  3. In what ways did you experience time after you had completed the partnership work? In other words, in what ways, if any, did investing in this partnership with your SaLT student consultant(s) pay off over time, change your thinking about how you use/make time, and or otherwise prompt you to reconceptualize time in relation to your ongoing work of reflecting on, planning for, and revising teaching?

  4. Please share additional comments, if you have any, on ways that you experienced and (re)conceptualized time in relation to or as a result of your partnership work with a SaLT student consultant.

I received 40 responses. I did not ask for demographic data, to preserve confidentiality among faculty respondents. However, the responses offered indications that some faculty respondents were early in their careers (e.g., “Because it was one of my first semesters on campus”), some had been teaching for longer (e.g., “I’m in my 10th year of being a professor now”), some had worked with one student consultant once, and others had worked with several student consultants over time.

Twenty of the responses I received were complete—respondents addressed all questions. I draw on the complete responses for this discussion. To identify themes and trends in the data, I employed a combination of reflexive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006, 2019) and constant comparison/grounded theory (Creswell, 2007; Glaser & Strauss, 1967), starting with familiarization, followed by generating themes, and then open coding: “the process of breaking down, examining, comparing, conceptualizing, and categorizing data” (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, p. 61). I found overlaps and differences in participants’ responses to the during-partnership and after-partnership questions. Throughout my discussion, I put in brackets the number of the response in the survey (e.g., [15]) to distinguish the excerpts from faculty responses to the survey questions.

Because I sent the survey to faculty who had indicated that they were interested in staying in dialogue about pedagogical partnership work, they were already inclined to engage meaningfully in the work and likely to have made the most of it. The findings I share, therefore, do not include the experiences and perspectives of faculty who feel that the time in pedagogical partnership is not well spent—that it is a waste of or a drain on their time. While most partnerships are useful if both parties invest in them, not all are. I have heard from a small number of faculty that they did not find the partnership work especially helpful, and while this is not a study about why that might be, it would be inaccurate to assert that partnership with students is always a beneficial form of educational development.

This is also a study of a single, long-standing program, and the findings therefore might not be consistent with the experiences of faculty in other contexts and programs. Further research is needed into how faculty across contexts conceptualize and experience time during and after pedagogical partnership with student consultants.

Findings: Rethinking Time During and After Participating in Pedagogical Partnership

Faculty respondents who participated in SaLT discuss a range of ways that they rethink time through their partnerships with student consultants. Given the limitations noted above, my goal is not to generalize from these responses, to argue that faculty should or must take up these ways of thinking about time, or to assert that these are the only ways to conceptualize time in and through pedagogical partnership work. Rather, my goal is to offer examples of “visions of the possible” (Shulman, 2004) for faculty and educational developers to consider.

Since most faculty who participate in SaLT engage in the same structures for partnership with student consultants (described above), their responses to the first question on the survey were fairly consistent. However, some respondents did include specific reference to the point in their own development at which they engaged in partnership, such as:

Because it was one of my first semesters on campus at the time, it was very helpful to have my [student consultant] help me think about ways I might adjust my teaching to make it more effective for this student population. [9]

Others explained how the focus of the partnership work evolved over time:

The first weekly meetings were spent discussing how to more smoothly hold class and how different approaches could lead to the same outcomes, with less work and more fun. As the semester progressed, the discussions with [my student consultant] became more conceptual, focused on the course(s) I’d be teaching the next semester. [28]

Comments such as these offer insight into the relevance of timing of, as well as self-directed focus and empowerment within, pedagogical partnerships.

The second and third questions on the survey invited respondents to address how they experienced and conceptualized time during their partnership work and after their partnership work. Table 1 below represents themes that emerged across responses to these questions.

Table 1.

Themes in Responses to Survey Questions 2 and 3

While participating, faculty experience and conceptualize time in pedagogical partnership as:

After participating in pedagogical partnership, faculty carry forward new understandings of the importance of:

  • a useful and practical way to spend time

  • a source of insights into the student perspective on and experience of time

  • an inspiration to use time to center student learning

  • a worthwhile investment of time in growing as a reflective practitioner

  • spending time outside of class reflecting on teaching

  • feeling more confident and capable in planning for teaching

  • using time differently in class

  • continuing to invest time in revising their sense of self as a teacher in meaningful learning relationships with students

I fold responses to the fourth question into the themes I identify above since they tended to elaborate on points respondents had already made.

While in partnership: Rethinking time in planning and developing reflective practices

Regarding Question 2, by far the most common theme survey responses revealed was how working with a student consultant was a useful or practical way to spend time. For instance, one respondent wrote that the weekly meetings were “a dedicated & valuable use of my time for constructive reflection and discussion on tangible strategies to employ in the classroom” [3]. A second respondent wrote, “I think the extra time I spent meeting with [my student consultants] and hearing their feedback helped me plan more targeted activities, which eventually saved me time” [4]. A third noted that “this collective thinking process about what went right and what went wrong about my teaching” was “quite productive,” and they “frequently [felt] that I figured some stuff via these exchanges that I otherwise wouldn’t have figured out, or it would have taken me much longer to figure out” [5]. A fourth respondent reflected that the time with a student consultant “was definitely more useful than reflecting on my own” because it “saved a lot of time”—what a fifth respondent described as “sav[ing] time on the backend” [21]—as the student consultant was “a real time sounding board that did not just reflect back my own thoughts” but rather “helped me reorganize my perspectives on what I was doing” and “find and develop the best framework for what I was attempting to accomplish and how to implement those things” [40]. Several other respondents offered variations on this theme, all emphasizing that time spent in this dialogic exchange saved time later on and was productive. A sixth respondent succinctly captured the potential: “In many ways I saved and made time while using it. The time spent conversing and receiving updates and feedback from my student consultants was time I could have wasted trying different approaches on my students” [27].

Gaining insight into the student perspective on and experience of time was another theme that emerged across responses to this question and that explicitly links the efficiency- and growth-driven influences on faculty conceptions of time. Students’ perspectives on “how other students learn and feel comfortable” [22] can save faculty time in trying to figure those things out on their own. Partnership work can also help faculty “understand how . . . students conceive and deal with their own temporalities” [4]. One of the most common disconnects between faculty and students is the lack of understanding each has of how the other conceptualizes and uses time. Therefore, these faculty members suggest, partnership work can help bridge that gap.

A third theme I identified in the survey responses focuses on how pedagogical partnerships can inspire faculty to use time to center student learning, as illustrated by the following comment:

Especially as a new professor in a new setting, my consultant’s comments helped alleviate some of the stress I might have felt by reminding me what students see/care about. It was also a way to signal to my students how much I center their perspective in my pedagogical approach. [6]

Insight into what matters to students can help faculty—particularly newcomers—better understand their students; the “how much” in the response above connects this insight to time spent. The time spent in dialogue with student consultants develops faculty awareness of “dynamics of my teaching I might not otherwise have noticed” [9], addresses questions about students “I wouldn’t have otherwise understood” [9], affords a student perspective on effective teaching revisions [6], and supports faculty in developing specific strategies for devoting time to supporting student engagement and meaningful learning—time, faculty suggest, well spent. Capturing many of these benefits, one respondent wrote:

My [student consultants] would provide me with a discussion as to how the energy in the room felt, and map the actual flow of conversations (i.e., who spoke and when). This helped me significantly in working on methods for engaging students who were not participating—these [methods] ranged from moving students around, to using different students’ names in examples, to specifically inviting discussion from some areas of the room. To be honest, I wouldn’t have thought of any of these techniques on my own—these were entirely generated from conversations with the SaLT students. [26]

Strategies that center meaningful student learning also include faculty choice to “set aside time for debriefing in the beginning and time for reflection at the end of class” [19]. In another respondent’s words:

One of my biggest takeaways from this work was understanding that I needed to open up more time for student reflection in class, which would lead to more student participation. Ultimately this led to *less* time spent prepping course material and *more* time spent in class engaging with the course material interactively. [25]

Finally, respondents commented on the worthwhile investment of time in pedagogical partnership with student consultants as contributing to their growth as reflective practitioners, the fourth theme. One faculty member wrote:

The time spent with the SaLT consultant started out in my mind as a planning for student course work, when the reality by mid-term was that I was working on my own reflective practice as an educator and the way that I approach teaching and learning. The time became even more beneficial as I was able to address external classroom strengths and challenges, as well as my own internal development in addressing my strengths and challenges as a teacher. [8]

Dedicating time to reflection and dialogue with the student consultant fostered an awareness of and a commitment to such ongoing reflection. As one respondent explained, “typically, [when not working with a student consultant], I reflect on my classes throughout the day as I go about my daily life, not in any formalized way or at any formalized time” [9]. Another asserted that the partnership work “led to more time set aside for additional self-reflection” [3].

The partnership work with a student consultant creates space and structure for a faculty member who sees themself as “a collaborator at heart” who needs “time . . . to process often” because working alone does not lead “to the most meaningful course and pedagogical journeys” [29]. The reflective practice fostered in dialogue with student consultants can help faculty make better use of their time with enrolled students. One example of this regards using clearer language to articulate expectations:

The thing that stands out the most from my work with a [student consultant] . . . is how she helped me learn to speak during class and in the writing of assignments with greater directness and clarity. She encouraged me to say what I mean! I realized in working with her that I had taken up an academic style of qualification and indirection, adding complexity when it was not useful. I think I did this at times as a defense, and my [student consultant] encouraged me to be more courageous! [24]

Another respondent linked time spent in reflective practice with capacity and confidence gained as a practitioner:

I think of it as an investment. I feel more confident as I define myself as the kind of professor I want to be, and the time spent with [the] SaLT student consultant has allowed me to reflect on my teaching habits and explore possibilities. It’s clear to me now that although time consuming at first, the process of creating new courses and planning lessons flows more easily. [31]

Integral to many respondents’ development as reflective practitioners was the sense of time spent with students in trustful conversations (Cook-Sather, Hong, et al., 2021) as akin to time spent with colleagues—seeing “students as partners” more than they had in the past [6]: “I categorized the time we spent together as useful time spent with a colleague, discussing a topic of mutual concern and interest” [7]; “I . . . valued being able to form that kind of relationship with a student, where we could speak candidly about our thoughts and feelings about our institutions . . . . [I] experienced the time as time spent with a younger colleague and eventually a friend” [9].

After partnership: Using time differently and committing to sustaining reflective practice

The first theme that emerged in the responses to Question 3—how faculty conceptualize and experience time after participating in pedagogical partnership—was that pedagogical partnership work made faculty think differently about spending time reflecting on teaching. Several respondents affirmed that the partnership “was a valuable investment of my time that I believe will challenge me to carve out more time in the future for reflection” [27] and made them “feel now that time to reflect on planning and revising are significantly more important to me” [31]. One respondent described both increased frequency and specific timing of reflection inspired by participating in partnership, indicating that the work:

highlighted to me the importance of setting aside dedicated time to reflect on my teaching—both at the completion of a semester/course but also at multiple points during a semester in order to course correct in real-time as much as possible if I am not serving my students as completely as I could be. [3]

The awareness of and commitment to using time to reflect on teaching also emerged in a more negative way in one response:

Honestly, I might be experiencing time much differently after having the experience with my SaLT [student consultant]. Embarrassingly, since working with them, I have not instituted a formal time to sit and reflect upon my teaching beyond the typical checkpoints of the beginning, middle, and end of the semester. Because of this experience [of working with a student consultant], I know how important it is to reflect on one’s teaching while in the midst of teaching practice itself, and in some way that has become a sort of psychological barrier to my doing so on my own. It was easier to prioritize it as a part of my active teaching practice when I had the time set aside with my SaLT [student consultant]. [9]

Without the dedicated time and semi-structured dialogue with a student partner, this faculty member felt less able to devote time to reflection on teaching.

The second theme that emerged in response to this question—feeling more confident and capable in planning for teaching—is a lasting benefit, faculty responses suggest, of spending time in partnership with student consultants. One respondent described the “tremendous impact” of working with a student consultant, specifically learning “to identify which parts of the teaching enterprise, and my relationships with students, supported the learning and that I found valuable” [28]. This faculty member continued: “The consultations helped me hone in on which aspects of learning I could most strongly support and which aspects the students might have to find in another class,” leading to “a marked change in my course assignments and my classroom style” based on “confidence from my consultations that I feel free and capable to design my courses how I want” [28]. A new faculty member wrote that spending time with a student consultant “helped me develop my ‘style’ and approaches as an educator. This is ever-evolving, obviously, but without her, I feel that the changes I made as a teacher would’ve taken at least 2–3x as long” [22].

Evidencing how these benefits endure over time, another faculty member who had participated in SaLT while at Haverford College but had since moved to another institution wrote, “I’m in my 10th year of being a professor now (now at an R1 instead of a SLAC [small liberal arts college]) and continue to use these techniques *daily.* This has changed my pedagogical life for the better” [26]. This same respondent elaborated:

I simply wouldn’t be the professor I am today without my 3 years with a SaLT [student consultant]—having someone in the audience who doesn’t know my field and can instead watch the actual dynamics of a classroom provides a clear view of classroom engagement and participation in a way that I could have never figured out on my own. [26]

Feeling more confident and capable, and therefore not losing or wasting time on feeling uncertain about their planning and pedagogical practices, is a direct result, these faculty suggest, of coming to understand students as learners through participating in pedagogical partnership—an understanding that makes planning for teaching both more effective and more human:

The experience of working with my consultant was valuable in the short and long term. Through our collaboration, and my understanding of the different way[s] students learn, I am still using and making changes to my teaching approach. These strategies have saved me a lot of time because I have tools that I know work, while recognizing that I will continuously be needing to make changes based on the material and the students in my classes. [21]

A third theme that emerged from faculty responses to this question focuses on faculty rethinking what a good use of class time might be and how to think about time both within and across class sessions. About in-class time, a faculty member wrote:

I feel much more comfortable making space to check in with my students without feeling guilty that I am “wasting” precious class time. Oftentimes, I can in fact even find ways to still make this pedagogical (relating the topic of a movie they saw to class discussion, using an anecdote to introduce new vocab, etc.), but I also don’t feel like I have to. [6]

Another faculty member wrote about developing a different sense of how time is passing during class and a different sense of what can be accomplished through this change:

Everything slowed down in my courses. There was a sense that I had to flow with a time structure that felt natural to [my student consultant and me] and actually attainable. This also influenced how I moved through the course in terms of content. Harmony and alignment came more clearly to me after these processes and elements did not feel so urgent. The course journey was more balanced in terms of time for review and analysis of content and the revisiting of content to gather more profound revelations and summations across the course experience and in community with one another. Students were able to watch each other’s journeys in research and become a part of the projects of others—we became [more] of a cohort than a class of disparate parts. [29]

This faculty member focused on having gained a deeper understanding of students’ sense of time, specifically the sequence in a course, and reflected on how working with a student consultant in a cluster of courses taught around a single theme “brought home the way that early activities in the [course] set students’ expectations for what would come later, in ways that the [instructors] had not anticipated.” This respondent continued, “[W]hile I didn’t think of it as about time until now, I notice that there’s something here about sequencing/chronology/the narrative of a course that gets established, and the need for faculty to be cognizant of how this is shaped” [24].

Two additional reflections on good use of class time focus on energy use. Regarding structuring opportunities for student engagement with material, one respondent wrote:

Working with my [student consultant] has helped me understand where I was inappropriately perseverating on aspects of the class that were not increasing student mastery of the material. It was great to have a student perspective that showed where I was wasting time and how to restructure my course to better assess the needs of my students while also more efficiently gathering and implementing these suggestions. [40]

Another respondent wrote about energy use in self-presentation and communication with students:

While I didn’t think of it in terms of time when it was happening, I now see that my [student consultant’s] encouragement that I communicate more directly and clearly was both a way to honor students’ time and to conserve my own. It made a lot of follow-up questions unnecessary! There is also something about being direct and straightforward that unclutters my mind, so that I can find things there more efficiently! [24]

Finally, the fourth theme to emerge in response to Question 3 is of faculty continuing to invest time in revising their sense of self as a teacher in meaningful learning relationships with students. Several faculty described a changed sense of students as partners, as in the following response:

More than ever, I use the term teaching and learning vs. just teaching alone, and there is exchange occurring between me and my students, which is more partnership aligned and serves a branch of the partnership with my SaLT consultant. While in the moment my experience was helpful for the actual time I was teaching, my approach to teaching over time is still informed by this past experience . . . . I continue to use, and be so thankful for, the midterm course evaluation co-created with my SaLT consultant over 3 years ago. The instrument continues to be timely and effective in getting student feedback on not only my teaching, but [students’] active participation in their own learning. The time for the original midterm evaluation utilization has gone beyond the initial use time. [8]

Discussion of Possibilities

Scholars have noted that time is one of the primary barriers to faculty (and students) taking on pedagogical partnership work as a form of educational development (Foran et al., 2020; Marie & McGowan, 2017; Marquis et al., 2017; McKerlie et al., 2018). In one of the first books focused on student-faculty pedagogical partnership, my co-authors and I acknowledged a common faculty lament and question: “I have enough to do already without having to set up all these meetings with students; wouldn’t it be quicker to do this on my own?” Here is how we responded:

It depends on how you think about time. People typically find time for the things they consider most important. Working with students as partners in the design or revision of a course probably takes more time than doing this alone. However, time investments up front can pay off later as students take a more active role in the learning process (Wolf-Wendel et al., 2009), and working in partnership with students rather than working against them actually saves time as students assume more responsibility for the learning, as well as sometimes the teaching, that happens in a class. The time you spend creating and building partnership that enhances student engagement and accountability is time you save later on: repeating or clarifying when students don’t understand; office hours; responding to drafts of student work; and coping with the frustrations of teaching disengaged students. (Cook-Sather, Bovill, et al., 2014, p. 17)

This response offered several arguments for rethinking time: in terms of prioritizing; investing now to save later; and affirming student agency and engagement in, and associated taking of responsibility for, their learning. The study discussed here sought to explore whether and how these early arguments regarding time were consistent with—or different from—the lived experiences of faculty members who have participated in SaLT. Faculty responses to the survey questions affirm the arguments my colleagues and I had offered, but they add detail and nuance, and they also demonstrate that it is possible to evoke capitalist notions of efficiency and productivity while also attending to human, relationship-focused conceptions of growth.

Efficiency-oriented responses of faculty included words such as “productive” and “saved” to describe experiences and conceptualization of time during pedagogical partnership as useful and practical, but this efficiency, as noted above, was not at the expense of human growth. The relational work of partnership allowed faculty to “understand” students better and develop a commitment to “*less* time spent prepping course material and *more* time spent in class engaging with the course material interactively” [25]. This work is focused on human engagement and growth that resulted from faculty choice—a form of self-direction and autonomy in time management. Faculty use of terms such as “investment” in growing as reflective practitioners also links notions of efficiency with deepening relationship-rich connections with students as partners.

After participating in pedagogical partnership, faculty carry forward new understandings of the importance of spending time outside of class reflecting on teaching not only to increase productivity but also to strengthen “relationships with students” for the benefit of their learning and growth. Similarly, taking time to “check in with” students no longer seems a waste but rather a good use of time, and clarifying focus and use of language through dialogue with student consultants, faculty suggest, both saves them time and makes time with students more meaningful. Faculty revisions of their sense of self as a teacher in engaged learning relationships with students illustrate how partnership practices can be carried forward from the time with the student consultant into time with enrolled students.

The “visions of the possible” (Shulman, 2004) captured in the survey responses offer inspiring ways faculty might rethink time in preparation for and reflection on teaching. Through pedagogical partnership, faculty learn “the skills of inclusion and practice the skills of listening” and consider, with their student consultants, ways “to hold ourselves accountable by taking action” for inclusion that are among the uses of time Asai (2021) called for. Rethinking time in some of the ways that respondents describe here is also consistent with “temporal re-imagining,” which Levy and Young (2020) described as “the slowing down and stretching of time—of being in the moment—as a method to enter the world of people with PMLD [profound and multiple learning disabilities]” (p. 68)—a notion reflected in one faculty respondent’s comment that “everything slowed down in my courses.” As Levy and Young (2020) suggested, a “responsive and innovative use of time” can lead to “meaningful, symbiotic and inter-dependent relationships with one of the most marginalised groups in society” (p. 68). And as with many reconceptualizations prompted by particular needs and challenges, this kind of reconceptualization can benefit everyone, as we see across faculty survey responses. If we “re-think how we conceive of time in terms of different lives” (Levy & Young, 2020, p. 70; see also Wood, 2017), we can affirm and extend the ways in which faculty members partner with students—both those in liminal consultant roles and those enrolled in faculty members’ courses. These partnerships can support meaningful and lasting reconceptualizations of time that empower both faculty and students.

Recommendations for Educational Developers

Given the possibilities for rethinking time illuminated by faculty survey responses, I offer the following recommendations for educational developers interested in developing or expanding opportunities for faculty to work in pedagogical partnership with student consultants to develop both efficient and meaningfully human notions of time and of how to work in and through time:

  • Create spaces within which faculty can reflect on threshold concepts to pedagogical partnership—notions that, if not addressed, can block or hinder the development of partnership (e.g., “reciprocity in partnership does not mean exchanging exactly the same thing” and “partnership is about sharing power, not giving it up or taking it away”)—and provide guidelines for engagement in partnership work that faculty and staff can adapt as needed (Cook-Sather, Bahti, et al., 2019; see also Cook-Sather & Kaur, 2022).

  • As part of an exploration of how pedagogical partnership might support faculty sense of empowerment or disempowerment, which is informed by their feeling self-directed and autonomous in their time management as adult learners (Knowles, 1990), provide structured activities, such as the doubting/believing game (Elbow, 1973; as discussed in Cook-Sather & Kaur, 2022), to reflect on whether partnership work is a useful/practical way to spend time, a source of insights into the student perspective on and experience of time, an inspiration to use time to center student learning, and a worthwhile investment of time to grow as a reflective practitioner.

  • Within partnership programs and projects, explicitly invite faculty participants to reflect on their conceptions of time. Are their conceptions of time driven by capitalist notions of efficiency and productivity? By human, relationship-focused conceptions of growth? By an intentional embrace of “temporal re-imagining” (Levy & Young, 2020)? Or by all of these?

  • Informed by insights gained through reflections on conceptions of time, invite faculty to read discussions such as this article of ways to rethink time and support their exploration of how they currently spend time and how they could spend time: outside of class reflecting on teaching, planning for teaching, in class while teaching, and in revising their sense of self as a teacher in meaningful learning relationships with students.

The findings discussed in this article affirm what I have also heard anecdotally from faculty over the last nearly two decades: not only can student-faculty pedagogical partnerships support meaningful and lasting reconceptualizations of time that empower both students and faculty, but they can also support faculty in feeling self-directed and autonomous in their time management in ways that both achieve efficiency and productivity and embrace human, relationship-focused conceptions of growth.


Alison Cook-Sather is Mary Katharine Woodworth Professor of Education at Bryn Mawr College and Director of the Teaching and Learning Institute at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges. She has developed internationally recognized programs that position students and teachers as pedagogical partners, published over 100 articles and book chapters and nine books, consulted in 13 countries, and is the recipient of the Alumni Excellence in Education Award from the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University, among other awards.


Thanks to faculty colleagues Alice Lesnick and Leslie Ortquist-Ahrens for feedback and suggestions on drafts of the article, to student colleague Hannah Guo for introducing me to “temporal re-imagining,” and to three anonymous reviewers for their very helpful and constructive feedback and suggestions for revision.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The author has no conflict of interest.


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