Inviting Students

Dear Students,

EPI and Grand Challenges are excited to invite you to participate in STEPP (Student-Teacher Engaged Pedagogical Partnership) the Spring 2023 semester. STEPP is a program focused on reflecting on teaching and learning, empowering student voices, and building student-faculty relationships. Please read further for more information and if you would like to participate, please email Mark Fossesca <> or Jules Cianciotta <> at your earliest convenience. The form to sign up is also here.

What is STEPP? 

STEPP involves a partnership between a professor and a student over a semester centered on teaching and learning. Your faculty partner and you will create goals to achieve during the semester. You’ll then attend one of your faculty partner’s classes each week, take observation notes, and make reflections, which will be shared back with your faculty partner weekly so they can hear a student perspective on their class. You and your faculty partner will meet once per week to discuss those notes. As faculty continue to experiment with teaching, you would provide invaluable inputs regarding class format and student experiences to enhance the experience of students in their class. 

YOUR voice matters!

If you have successfully completed at least one semester on campus at Vassar, you are qualified to be a student partner! In fact, if you have been underserved by, felt unwelcome in, or struggled through the standard classroom, you are very likely to provide different perspectives and recommendations from those who have found higher education welcoming, supportive, and easily navigable. You are NOT expected to have content expertise; simply bring your authentic self and share your perspectives on partnership work. 

You will be able to offer your faculty partner a new lens through which to view their classroom, a way to reflect on their teaching practices and to gain consistent feedback from the perspective of a student. Student partners who participate in STEPP are very grateful for the strong relationships they developed with their faculty partners and for enhancing the experience of students in their classrooms. As a student partner, you would be able to move beyond traditional hierarchical power structures and connect with faculty in a way that creates sincere relationships. 

How will it work?

Your faculty partner will enroll you in 0.5 units of independent research in one of their academic disciplines. This means you are expected to do approximately four hours of work per week.

Outside of your student-faculty partner meetings and attending class, you’ll meet weekly for about a ½ hr with a facilitator and fellow student partners to practice sharing feedback and gain additional perspectives on questions you and your partner may decide to tackle together. An orientation will be conducted before classes to begin to learn how to partner with faculty.

Student Experiences:

“I appreciate the ability to build relationships with faculty and be a bridge between the students in the classroom and the professor.”

  • Nia Smith, ‘22

“I appreciate being able to interact and meet new people outside of classes, and getting to know educators outside of my major.”

  • Amanda Eng, ‘21

We’re looking to create partnerships thoughtfully and are accepting student partners on a rolling basis, so please submit this form as soon as possible. Check out our website and please don’t hesitate to email Mark Fossesca (2023) <> or Jules Cianciotta (2024) <> with any questions. We hope you’ll be able to participate.


The STEPP Team: 

Mark Fossesca, Student Coordinator of STEPP for Fall 2022

Jules Cianciotta, Student Coordinator of STEPP for Spring 2023

José Perillán, Associate Professor of Physics + STS, Faculty Director of Grand Challenges Program

Jonathon Kahn, Professor of Religion, Director of EPI