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- Volume 18, Issue 2, 2004
South African Journal of Higher Education - Volume 18, Issue 2, 2004
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Volume 18, Issue 2, 2004
Quality promotion and capacity development - could they come to the aid of weary South African academics? : perspectives on higher educationSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 5 –15 (2004)More Less
Whilst research on policy implementation concludes that "the principles of equity and quality have been steadily internalised by institutions" (CHE 2003a), there has been a great deal of sometimes passionate dissent about how quality improvement should be implemented. In the South African context, stress and anxiety have developed within the higher education sector since the Higher Education Act of 1997. Quality improvement initiatives, like the adoption of ICTs or other systems, often fail for various reasons. Many difficulties arise due to the lack of trust and ownership of the system, which can be addressed by effective training, change management and implementation strategies. We contend that there is an immediate and urgent need for comprehensive quality promotion and capacity development programmes on a voluntary basis to support overburdened and quality-weary South African academics. Such initiatives would empower them to implement and assume responsibility for their own accountable quality assurance practices.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 16 –33 (2004)More Less
Higher education worldwide has been undergoing transformation. Pressure is sometimes applied on universities to become more "businesslike" in their way of doing things. Within the changing paradigm of what constitutes a university, the position and role of the academic staff have also come under pressure. This paradigm shift has impacted on higher education institutions in that there is an increased emphasis on productivity, quality and accountability with regard to the key functions of a university. One of the consequences of increased "managerialism" and "corporatisation" in higher education institutions is an attempt to develop performance management / appraisal systems. In this article a critical overview is provided of performance appraisal at one higher education institution. The role of a performance management system is outlined within a holistic view of the role and functions of the institution. A theoretical framework for an individualised performance appraisal system is described and discussed critically. This is linked to an argument for a triangular approach to performance management using profiling, contracting and the use of portfolios as possible ways of individualising appraisal. A critical review of this triangular approach is provided and contextualised, using a case study of a specific faculty at one higher education institution.
Academic leadership under siege : possibilities and limits of executive deanship : perspectives on higher educationSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 34 –58 (2004)More Less
We argue in this article that translation of executive deanship into managerialism, a practice which is currently being uncritically embraced in many South African higher education institutions, is doomed to failure. It may prove disastrous to much needed institutional rejuvenation. We contend that, given the legacy of bureaucratic or autocratic management styles under apartheid, what is needed is stronger academic and intellectual leadership. Such leadership would concentrate on changing relationships, promoting new forms of academic and scholarly socialisation, and building 'enabling' institutional identities and environments. Solutions in this line should draw on the strengths of the rich intellectual legacies of individual institutional histories and cultures, where collegial practices have gained momentum. Corporate restructuring with a mere fiscal and performativity tool-box will not do the job.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 59 –75 (2004)More Less
South African higher education institutions find it increasingly difficult to deal with school-leavers who are ill-prepared for higher education. Institutions are obliged to meet national goals in terms of access and increased pass rates. However, the hard realities of educational backloop are difficult to deal with. In this article an access programme which has now been offered for 10 years is assessed. Although opponents of such programmes are of the opinion that it is not the responsibility of higher education to prepare students, this programme showed that, if done in an innovative way, it has a justifiable place in higher education.
Between deconstruction and systems thinking - some practicalities of incorporating non-technical skills into curricula using critical thinking as an example : perspectives on higher educationSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 76 –86 (2004)More Less
The nature of the skills required of graduates entering the contemporary workplace is shifting from the technical (subject-specific) to the non-technical (generic) sphere. This article justifies the integration of non-technical skills into curricula and learning tasks, and focuses on some of the associated practicalities. By deconstructing nontechnical skills into their enabling abilities, they can be more tangibly integrated into curricula and this will facilitate learning them. A model for curriculum development is identified that can be used to deconstruct the relevant non-technical skills into their enabling abilities (supportive cognitive skills). Two approaches to deconstructing the non-technical skill of critical thinking are used to illustrate how the supportive cognitive skills can be identified. The article concludes with a discussion of how the learning of non-technical skills can be facilitated with appropriate learning task design. Certain principles of systems thinking are identified that further promote understanding of the facilitation of the learning of non-technical skills.
Durban Institute of Technology's (DIT) response to the challenges of multiculturalism and diversity : perspectives on higher educationAuthor S.D. NarseeSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 87 –96 (2004)More Less
The notion of diversity as is currently applied in South Africa is clearly one that includes race, culture, language, gender, class, and the physically challenged. However, these issues need to be given far more importance than is currently the case. This article argues that unless enhanced opportunities for access to the higher education workplace are complemented by openness to embrace multiple forms of knowledge and representation, any institutional success will not be sustained over a period of time. Given a multicultural context there are pragmatic reasons for valuing diversity. Drawing on the work of thinkers like Nakata (2000), Lo Bianco (2000) and Cazden (2000), I argue that as educators we can construct a moral rather than just a pragmatic argument for valuing diversity; an argument which is underpinned by the paradigm that people's identities are constructed through dialogue and thus a failure to respect and recognise diversity in our students can be a form of oppression (Cope & Kalantzis 2000).
Universitas of diversitas? - enkele gedagtes oor postmoderne kurrikulere implikasies vir die universiteit : perspectives on higher educationAuthor W.F. SohngeSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 97 –108 (2004)More Less
Unitas a diversitas: some thoughts on postmodern curricular implications for the university. Change has been the main feature of societal and scientific endeavours since the last decades of the previous century. The nature and role of institutions became questionable as the result of considerations with regard to the economy, knowledge and politics. Being involved with the production and the transmission of knowledge as reflected by way of the curriculum, the university could not escape this scrutinising process. The information-technological era opened up not only the possibility, but also the mere fact, that information and its development would become readily available, as well as the right of institutions to participate in this process for purposes other than teaching. The sole knowledge function of the university became questionable from a cost-productive point of view. However, this point of view disregards issues such as paradigm change, epistemological analyses and the role of the human being, all of which have revolutionised scientific endeavour since the second half of the previous century. In this article these issues are briefly explained in view of the implications for the university, with particular reference to the curriculum. The shift from the traditional modern era to the postmodern era has focused the attention on radical reflection about, <I>inter alia</I>, truth, legitimacy, knowledge systems, academic institutions and the human being. This reflection, as guided by Lyotard, Foucault and Derrida, has brought to the fore complexity, uncertainty and 'difference'; truth linked to multiple meanings; science as a discourse dependent on a discursive practice ruled by power relations, and a human being metaphorically described as a 'peregrine' being (Hug) occupying different spaces. End
Die universiteit het van verskillende kante onder die spervuur beland. Die ekonomiekultuur gedurende die tweede helfte van die vorige eeu het die tradisionele rol van die universiteit bevraagteken en globalisering het ekonomiese else gestel. Paradigmaverskuiwing het die mens en die totstandkoming en legitimasie van kennis skerp bevraagteken. Dit is meer ingrypend van aard aangesien die wesenlike rol van die universiteit ter sprake is. Daarom word kortliks aandag geskenk aan hierdie ontwikkeling, want dit het uiteindelik kurrikulere implikasies vir die universiteit. End
'Addicted to the status quo' - academic fantasies and the primary task in Faculties of the Humanities : perspectives on higher educationAuthor T. UllyattSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 109 –130 (2004)More Less
The current state of the Humanities in South African universities is frequently attributed to the 1997 Higher Education Act and the new educational dispensation it initiated. This article discusses some of the pervasive fantasies inhibiting the effective management, and especially the management of change, in one Faculty of the Humanities. Several of these fantasies appear to prevent the Faculty from being able to manage itself adequately within the new tertiary educational system. It was to these inabilities and resistances that a research project was directed in 2000 / 2001. It sought to explore some of the perceptions held by Heads of Departments about the primary task at various organisational levels within the university. Some of the major findings are included in the article which, inevitably, is a mere skeleton of the complete research, running, as it does, to some 60000 words.
Group work in higher education : a mismanaged evil or a potential good? : perspectives on higher educationSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 131 –149 (2004)More Less
This study focuses on the modal proposition that group work in the context of higher education has the potential to enhance learning among students, but has yet to reach its valid zenith of utility value in didactical practice. The particular characteristics of the small group in the context of higher education are described and supplemented by an explication of the small group learning process students partake in. This is followed by a brief examination of structured activities for group work; the assessment of group work; and the implications for the managing of group work in higher education. Empirically, the study explores the perceptions of students regarding group work. Results show that students are positively inclined towards group work and have constructive views regarding the nature of group work as a learning mode. Theoretically speaking, group work has a wealth of potential to offer to the lecturer and the learner. The complexity of the phenomenon leaves the lecturer with no choice but to take great care in the use of group work. The fact that group work is not viewed as a mismanaged evil leaves the door open for further use of this mode of teaching, learning and assessing in higher education.
Author W.L. Van der MerweSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 150 –162 (2004)More Less
The article proposes a departure from the first form of multiculturalism that became predominant from the 1970s in American academic with the "cultural wars" about curriculum reform and the alleged Eurocentrism and "white male" exclusivism of the so-called "canon" of liberal education in the humanities. As distinct from this narrow form of <I>affirmative multiculturalism</I> various theoretical and methodological approaches to socio-cultural diversity in the humanities are distinguished and evaluated, namely 1) <I>liberal multiculturalism</I> (the traditionalist, conventional approach), 2} <I>affirmative multiculturalism</I> (the narrow, activist African-American and Feminist approach), 3) <I>cultural relativism</I> (the descriptive, uncritical approach), and 4) <I>critical multiculturalism</I> (a contextualised, critical and self-reflective approach). In conclusion, it is argued that <I>critical multiculturalism</I> can meet the challenges that the appropriation of socio-cultural diversity entails for the humanities.
Classification of educational subject matter : the case of Home Economics : perspectives on higher educationAuthor T. WoodSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 163 –171 (2004)More Less
Although it represents an individual view, this article was submitted to the Department of Education by the Cape Higher Education Consortium (CHEC) as an outcome of the review of the field of Home Economics in the Western Cape region. By presenting some history, it argues that the category of Home Economics is no longer a meaningful one, but that certain subjects and programmes that are reported on under this category (CESM 10) are nevertheless highly significant. Therefore the continued use of the term Home Economics tends to distort the nature of these offerings, and possibly devalues them in the process. The article concludes with some suggestions for a reclassification, and more generally, suggests that the whole set of CESM categories needs to be reviewed.
Electronic assessment of free-text : a development research investigation : research in higher educationSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 172 –188 (2004)More Less
A study of web-based learning revealed that web-based learning environments need to move away from static instructional web pages to dynamic pages in order to produce more effective interactive learning. Furthermore, it was found that automated assessment should move beyond rigid technologies such as quizzes or multiple-choice questions taken at the end of a course. This study describes a development research initiative entailing the design, development, implementation and evaluation of an electronic assessment (e-assessment) tool that might increase the effectiveness of automated assessment of free-text and hence the utility of webbased learning. The tool was developed at the University of South Africa (Unisa), a distance-learning institution. Results indicated that the tool has potential utility for both academics and learners.
Information Systems curriculum : the moving target phenomenon of the Information Systems curriculum : research in higher educationSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 189 –205 (2004)More Less
This article determines the scope and nature of Information Systems training at Technikons in South Africa. Due to rapid changes in technology, knowledge regarding technology becomes obsolete rapidly. Therefore Information Systems learners should have the means and skills to keep abreast of advances in the technology field. One of the objectives will be to determine the employability of qualified Information Systems learners as well as the requirements that need to be addressed to achieve this objective during Information Systems instruction. Based on the findings of the empirical study, specific outcomes will be recommended for the subject Information Systems.
Robert Steinberg's mental self-government theory and its contribution to our understanding of first-year distance learners' multiple thinking style preferences : research in higher educationSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 206 –232 (2004)More Less
Empirical investigations have revealed that the diversity and flexibility of students' opinions on common thinking style issues and the apparent elusive nature of learning styles account for the often-unpredictable array of personal thinking style preferences. Sternberg contributes to our understanding of mental ability and cognitive performance by equating mental self-governance to the way we manage businesses and institutions. This intelligence (the perception we have of information systems and the way we manage them) will influence the way we think and learn. This also applies to students and specifically to distance learners whose academic performance often depends on their ability to organise and manage information and information systems effectively. To assess this assumption, the Sternberg- Wagner Self-Assessment Inventory was applied to a sample of 503 first-year university and college students at five institutions in South Africa. The measuring instrument and items generated a Cronbach's alpha reliability coefficient of 0.8676, while the first-order and second-order factor analyses reaffirmed the presence of multiple self-management preferences among the distance learners included in the sample. The clustering of an external or field dependent style among respondents was prominent. Another preference supported by the empirical investigation and factor analysis was the association between an executive and a conservative thinking style, the existence of learners who prefer to be critical and analytical when reviewing learning material, and learners who apply a variety and wide range of techniques and strategies when problems have to be solved. The implications of these findings for a better distance education praxis are also explained in the article.
Changing trends in the performance of medical students : a case study : research in higher educationSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 233 –249 (2004)More Less
This study was done to investigate how female students are performing in a programme which has traditionally been dominated by males and with stereotyped beliefs that male students perform better than their female counterparts. The study brought to the fore that female medical students are outperforming male students. The research also describes the student's profile and learner characteristics and study preferences. The authors are of the opinion that studies such as this will contribute towards eliminating the biases, stereotyping and prejudices against women in the traditionally male-dominated medical profession.
Locus of control and learning strategies as predictors of academic success : research in higher educationSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 250 –264 (2004)More Less
The aim of the research was to determine the relationships which exist between academic success, learning strategies and locus of control. In order to achieve this aim a small-scale quantitative study, utilising two inventories, was done. The first measuring instrument is the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory, which is grounded in cognitive psychology. The second instrument is the Locus of Control Inventory, which is based on social learning theory and attribution theory. The investigation was undertaken at the Vaal University of Technology and the test sample consisted of 66 first-year students registered within the Department of Management Sciences. From the study it can be concluded that non-cognitive variables, particularly students' attitudes towards their studies, play a significant contributory role towards academic success. It can furthermore be concluded that in this research learning strategies have greater predictive power than locus of control.
Academic staff satisfaction suffers due to increased learner access and redress : research in higher educationAuthor M.L.E. MapeselaSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 265 –277 (2004)More Less
Historically White Afrikaans universities (HWAUs) in the past served a selected cohort of learners (Whites only) through a medium of one language. Such days have long past and currently all the children of this country can benefit from higher education. The masses of the learners from the disadvantaged groups - including Blacks, women and the disabled - have started enrolling and continue to increase in numbers in HWAUs. This has implications for academic staff satisfaction. The diversity, increase in enrolments, as well as the use of parallel medium have brought burdens to academics. In a study undertaken at the University of the Free State (UFS) increased learner access and redress were investigated as factors of transformation that are influencing academic staff satisfaction. The overall findings indicated that academics at the UFS are affected by the changes that are brought about by these factors.
Lecturers' discourses about the interplay between language and learning : research in higher educationAuthor S. McKennaSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 278 –287 (2004)More Less
A discourse-analysis of what lecturers say about student learning is used to discuss some of their dominant understandings of this process. In this article, the two discourses that are discussed reflect lecturers' beliefs about the interplay between language and learning. Lecturers' discourses do not only reflect their classroom methodology, but also shape it by positioning them in certain ways. Dominant discourses reinforce dominant forces until beliefs become naturalised and made to seem "common sense". As such this research is concerned with issues of ideology and power as reflected and reinforced by lecturers' discourses. The article thus also begins to question how these discourses operationalise in the teaching and learning of the classroom.
Computer-aided voice training in higher education : participants' subjective evaluation : research in higher educationSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 288 –301 (2004)More Less
The training of performance singing In a multilingual, multicultural educational context presents unique problems and requires inventive teaching strategies. Computer-aided training offers objective visual feedback of the voice production that can be implemented as a teaching aid in higher education. This article reports on the subjective programme evaluation by a teacher and learners who participated in a dual phase computer-aided training programme. Parallel questionnaires were used to evaluate specific aspects of the programme that included pre-training and singing training with and without computer aid. All the participants were positive about the computer-aided training confirming the feasibility of the approach. A comparison of the evaluations of the participants in the two training phases accentuates the importance of extensive pre-training for teachers, teaching assistants and learners.
Exploring the validity of the continuous assessment strategy in higher education institutions : research in higher educationSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 18, pp 302 –312 (2004)More Less
Higher education institutions in South Africa are confronted with the mammoth task of producing improved throughput rate or face reduced revenue due to subsidy cuts. Because of the tremendous backlog accumulated from the past educational system, the Government had to introduce stringent measures in the spending of the scarce resources that was intended for the varied needs in higher education. As science and technological development is the backbone of economic empowerment, the country cannot afford to be non-productive because of the high failure rate and reduced throughput rate in its higher education institutions. All stakeholders are engaged in finding the means and ways to improve the state of affairs. The advent of Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) provides unique opportunities to experiment and discover new methods and mechanisms to achieve better throughput rates in key subject areas such as mathematics and science. This article outlines how a Continuous Assessment (CASS) mechanism introduced in the second-year mathematics for civil engineering students at Technikon Witwatersrand could attain the desired goals.