Student engagement has been extensively studied from 'student as co-producer' and 'student as customer' perspectives, while co-creation may provide a renewed framework aiming for an extended and more useful relationship between students and instructors through dyadic interactions. With the intention of theorizing co-creation in a more comprehensive model, the present study incorporates 'operant resources' as antecedents to the formation of a co-creative relationship. The model also proposes that co-creation is a mediator between resources and outcomes. Lastly, the strength of the bond between students and instructors moderates this relationship. Based on fifteen in-depth interviews, the higher education context is reflected more accurately. The qualitative findings are used to construct a questionnaire, which is then administered among 172 students at two different times to capture the evolving student-educator bond. Results support our proposed model and a discussion is made on co-creation as a methodical process in an ecosystem entangling various stakeholders.