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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Hammond, Joyce D., 1950-

Second Advisor

Stevenson, Joan C.

Third Advisor

Saunders, Kathleen (Anthropologist)


There is a marked climate of concern over the quality of teaching and learning in the culture of higher education. In the 1980s, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching conducted a national survey and found that most faculty members felt strained by the competing priorities of teaching and research, which at times negatively impacted their performance in the classroom and their relationship with students. Carnegie addressed this problem by spearheading a reform movement to study and enhance teaching and learning in the university classroom, a growing body of literature known today as the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). Western Washington University (WWU) was an early participant in these efforts beginning in 1998, and has since received national and international acclaim for the Teaching-Learning Academy (TLA), WWU's primary SoTL initiative. The TLA uses a participatory action research (PAR) process in its work; students partner with administrators, staff and faculty to study and enhance the learning culture at WWU through dialogue and action. Little has been published about the impact of partnering with students in SoTL and this thesis examined how students benefitted from participation in TLA. The author of this thesis participated in the TLA as a student and also worked for the program as a staff member. Using an anthropological approach, the author situates herself as a "native" researcher, and uses a grounded theory approach to analyze the benefits students perceived. Five themes were discovered in the students' surveys: 1) increased opportunities for self-awareness and self-expression; 2) increased awareness/understanding of the diversity of ideas/perspectives; 3) increased pedagogical intelligence and learner autonomy; 4) increased sense of power within the university; and 5) increased sense of belonging and community at WWU. The key findings indicate that participating in TLA increases students' engagement in their learning, and empowers students to make a difference in the university because they feel they are valued members of the campus community. The TLA's PAR model has significant benefits for student participants which can and should be expanded both in the field of SoTL as well as in other aspects of higher education.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subjects – Names (LCNAF)

Western Washington University. Teaching-Learning Academy

Subject – LCSH

College students--United States--Attitudes; College teaching--United States; Learning

Geographic Coverage

United States




masters theses




Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.

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