Case Study – Engagement Parties: Staff-Student Partnerships in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading

Madeleine Kathryn Davies


This Case Study outlines a series of student engagement activities in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading between 2016-2018. The discussion connects with consistent strands within pedagogic literature that position ‘student engagement’ within institutional discourses and that connect it with student attainment, and suggests that the term becomes more meaningful when it extends beyond these boundaries to reach ‘hearts and minds’. The Case Study departs from much published material in this area in that it incorporates the views of the students who were involved in the activities discussed: in analyses of ‘student engagement’, students are surely the experts, yet they tend to be silenced within them. The discussion also connects with the contemporary HEI fee-paying landscape where fundamental re-evaluations of pedagogic principle, institutional policy, and staff-student relationships are urgently required as we move forward into an uncertain future.


Student Engagement; institutional discourse; staff-student partnerships; innovation; employability

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Davies, M. and Bethany Barnett-Sanders, eds, (2018). Second Sight: The Margaret Atwood Learning Journals. Reading: The University of Reading

(2016) Engage in Curriculum Review: A Toolkit for Staff leading Curriculum Review and Enhancement. Available at: (Accessed 28 May 2018)

Gunuc, S. (2014). ‘The Relationships between Student Engagement and their Academic Achievement.’ International Journal on New Trends in Education and their Implications, 5 (4), 216-31. Available at: (Accessed 20 May 2018)

Hardy,C. and C. Bryson (2010). ‘Student Engagement: Paradigm Change or Political Expediency.’ Networks, (9), 19-23. Available at: (Accessed 27 May 2018)

Healey, M., A. Flint, and K. Harrington (2014). Engagement through partnership: students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. York: Higher Education Academy

Trowler, V. (2010). Student Engagement Literature Review. Available at: (Accessed 18 May 2018)

With thanks to second and third year English Literature students at the University of Reading, Bethany Barnett-Sanders, Imogen Snell, Vicky Matthews and Jack Champion, whose views are quoted in this discussion.



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