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- Volume 22, Issue 1, 2008
South African Journal of Higher Education - Volume 22, Issue 1, 2008
Volumes & issues
Volume 22, Issue 1, 2008
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 1 –16 (2008)More Less
In this article we argue that higher education institutions on the African continent are faced with a dilemma in their patterns of governance. This dilemma arises from particular conceptions and expectations of higher education, on the one hand, and the relationship between higher education and society, on the other hand. Higher education institutions on the continent, particularly public institutions, are in many ways put in a corner in having to choose between serving the public interest and fulfilling the core business of higher education. This position is further complicated by the demands of globalisation and neoliberalism. In view of these challenges, we state that the claims to higher education autonomy have become more complicated, hence making such claims can be more difficult to understand at face value. The article mainly uses an interpretive / critical philosophical approach towards higher education practices.
Author A.E. CarlSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 17 –40 (2008)More Less
It is essential for teacher training institutions to reflect continually on changes in education policy with the view of ensuring that teacher training programmes that take the present needs and policies into account are in place. This article describes a four-year process through which a particular faculty of education went in search of an applicable programme in an effort not only to merge contemporary needs with recent policy development, but also to provide relevant teacher training for a constantly changing school curriculum landscape. Normally institutions draw up the curricula of their teacher training programmes in isolation and there is little mutual communication regarding the reconceptualisation of their curricula. Through the description of a particular institution's process of reconceptualisation of a specific programme, this article aims to share perspectives that could be put to use in other contexts and with other parties. This process was characterised by active and inclusive deliberations within the institution itself, thorough research and various workshops, to arrive at a reconceptualised programme.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 41 –63 (2008)More Less
In this article we argue that higher education institutions ought to be a reflection of society: its vision, values, conscience and ways of doing. It has as its task the production of human capital for participation in a global economy and by virtue of its position in society, ought to be able to do justice to that. In this article we draw on a case study of incorporation, as part of reshaping the Higher Education landscape in South Africa, not only to give voice to staff involved in an incorporation process, but also to explore the effect thereof on them. We discuss four themes that emerged from the data and draw some conclusions. Drawing on this example, we argue for prioritising the well-being of human capital by ensuring workplace wellness, in order to set an example and to make a real contribution to the well-being of society.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 64 –77 (2008)More Less
International benchmark studies confirm that school mathematics and science education in South Africa is weak and suffers from systemic problems. The Teacher Mentorship Programme (TMP) based at the Department of Civil and Biosystems Engineering of the University of Pretoria was borne out of lessons learnt from ongoing outreach and awareness creation projects and recent research findings. The most cost effective and sustainable support for maths and science learners can be achieved by mentoring their teachers in their work environment using experienced teachers as mentors. A pre-pilot implementation was launched in 2003 and a pilot project at five schools in Greater Pretoria (Tshwane) was implemented in 2004. This article describes the rationale behind the mentorship intervention programme, reports on the implementation strategies and makes recommendations based on the lessons learned during this implementation. A review of relevant literature supports the strategies employed.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 78 –99 (2008)More Less
In this article a proposed model for the branding of higher education institutions is provided. The model describes, among others, the internal practices that have a profound impact on branding and on an institution's overall reputation and image. The authors argue that a strong internal focus is necessary before a meaningful brand experience can be embarked on that will ultimately result in unprecedented benefits, even for relatively new institutions.
In South Africa the need for more scientific approaches towards the branding of higher education is enhanced by a number of realities, such as a history plagued by inequalities; new policies directed to eradicate the very same inequalities; private higher education; increased diversity in types of institutions; increased reliance on partnerships and alliances; increasing competition between institutions; increasing reliance on private funding for public higher education; a demand for quality; pressure to find solutions to the growing financial problems faced by institutions; and the current merging and incorporations of higher education institutions. The proposed model is based on two overarching fundamentals, namely the experience economy and its relatedness to brand, as well as relevance and branding, which should follow an integrated approach that could ultimately lead to successful external branding.
Author C. HermanSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 100 –115 (2008)More Less
This article is a reflective account of the emotions generated by the research journey, and the challenges these pose for doctoral students, particularly when researching organisations and topics close to their interests and background. By reflecting on my experience, and engaging with the literature to explore other novice researchers' reflective accounts of their research journey, I identify a host of emotions that are generated by the ideological, political and methodological facets of the research. I argue that doctoral students are ill-prepared to deal with the emotions of their research and are often attempted to ignore or control these emotions. This reduces the researchers' ability to engage fully with the process, it limits the data that could be collected, and results in unresolved emotional dilemmas. The article proposes that doctoral students may be better prepared to manage their emotions if they would be exposed to researchers' accounts (such as this one) on the role of emotions in research.
Author P. HiggsSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 116 –127 (2008)More Less
When reflecting critically on issues of education in society it is necessary to consider the following question: in what scientific paradigm should educational theory and practice be located in order to address issues of education in society in an educationally responsible manner?
In this essay, I argue that for education theory and practice to address issues of education in an educationally responsible manner, it is necessary that educational theory and practice be located in the tradition of the human sciences. The human sciences have their origin in values that have to do with the human condition. This being the case, education theory and practice should not be sacrificed in the service of educational policies that are driven by an ideological intent be it political, cultural, social or economic. In the event of such a categorical misplacement of intent, I would argue that the resultant politicisation and en-culturalisation of education gives rise to the ideological myth of education that in turn leads to the demise of the responsible role of education in society. What is needed to make education theory and practice a responsible force in society is the return of education theory and practice to the tradition of the human sciences.
How one university - and its faculties - respond to new national policies on the measurement of research outputAuthor S.M. MadueSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 128 –143 (2008)More Less
The production of research output has become a complex and competitive pursuit. Basic, experimental and strategic research compete more for scarce state and donor funding. In the Republic of South Africa (South Africa), research output is recognised through government subsidy-earnings guided by the policy for the measurement of research output of public higher education institutions. In this context, the management of research output at higher education institutions has become a highly professional task that requires the ability to understand and translate national policies and directives at the institutional level into opportunities for individual researchers and postgraduate students to pursue their interests and achieve their potential. A study on how a leading University and its faculties respond to the new policy on the measurement of research output might assist other institutions of higher learning to manage and improve their research output.
Establishing a preliminary framework for effective blended learning practices in the undergraduate classroom : a South African perspective on selected aspectsSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 144 –174 (2008)More Less
At the University of the Free State (UFS) blended learning (a combination of face-to-face and online modes of delivery) is regarded as a relatively new practice with possibilities of addressing many of the context-specific teaching and learning problems at the institution. During the planning phase for the third cycle of an action inquiry project the researcher decided to subject some of the multitude of findings, gathered over the first two cycles, to scrutiny by fellow online / blended learning facilitators / designers / researchers at other higher education institutions in South Africa. She hoped that sharing experiences would not only broaden her own insights, but would also lead to 'informed' agreement on at least some practices in which blended learning in either her own or the broader higher education environment could be enhanced. In this article the findings of the inter-institutional opinion survey are presented and analysed. The researcher as (the first author) also makes use of various 'agreed upon' learning principles to develop a preliminary framework for effective / meaningful blended learning which could extend understanding in a complex higher education environment and serve as stimulation for debate and further investigation.
The prospects and challenges of training South African and Japanese educators to enact an indigenised science curriculumSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 175 –190 (2008)More Less
Since the World Conference on Higher Education organized by UNESCO in 1998, higher educational institutions around the world have been called upon to produce educators (teachers) who are able to motivate their learners to: (1) develop an awareness about, and a valid understanding of the Nature of Science (NOS); and (2) relate such knowledge to the worldviews prevalent in their communities. In the pursuance of that aim and in response to the emergence of multicultural classrooms in many parts of the world, new curricula have been developed to make school experience more relevant to learners' home experiences. A common feature of these curricula particularly in the non-western developed and developing worlds has been the bold attempts that have been made to reflect some elements of indigenous knowledge in science classrooms. This article explores briefly such attempts in Japan and South Africa and highlights the prospects and challenges of implementing an indigenized science curriculum in both countries.
Facilitating adjustment to higher education : towards enhancing academic functioning in an Academic Development ProgrammeSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 191 –206 (2008)More Less
Several studies have emphasised the importance of addressing social and emotional factors in facilitating adjustment to tertiary education. This article describes the Skills for Success in Science programme at the University of Cape Town. The broad aims were life skills development and improved adjustment which are assumed to underpin academic performance. Weekly small group sessions were held which addressed several areas, namely adjustment, group work and co-operative learning, coping and stress management, resources on campus, assertiveness and communications, time management, study skills and examination competence. The intervention was experiential and participative, and while not compulsory, attendance was very good. Evaluation via self-report questionnaires using standardised psychological scales as well as focus groups provided positive feedback from students who described it as a 'must' for all first year science students. The article supports the notion that student development should be located within their daily experience at universities.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 207 –221 (2008)More Less
The article critically reflects on the positive portrayal of mentorship as a professional development strategy for educators. We argue that the conceptualisation of classical mentorship has been informed mainly by functionalist thinking. We contend that the supposedly beneficial nature of the mentorship relationship has been given such prominence that the possibility of learning from two highly problematic assumptions occupying a central position within a functionalist conceptualisation of mentorship, that is, the conceptualisation of learning as a unidirectional transmission process and, secondly, the strong authoritarian tendency deriving from a highly hierarchal mentor-mentee relationship where an experienced older person is the mentor and an inexperienced, younger person the mentee, is largely negated.
Functionalist perspectives informed the highly authoritarian education system that was essential to maintain the oppressive political dispensation in South Africa. We argue therefore that, owing to the underlying assumption of an uncritical transmission of knowledge and management skills in a strong hierarchal relationship between mentor and mentee, mentorship conceptualised within the framework of functionalism isinherently conservative and poses a potential threat to the new education system in South Africa.
The conceptualisation of mentorship within a radical humanistic perspective is pursued,especially because social justice, the learner as critical co-learner, and the critical analysis of power relations occupy a central position within this perspective.
Author P. WatsonSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 222 –326 (2008)More Less
An understanding of student learning and of the reasons for differential student performance is crucial to improving teaching and learning practices in tertiary education. This article aims to contribute to that understanding by reporting on an empirical study which examined two sets of student texts on the topic 'What is law?', written at a six month interval during a semester of tertiary-level introductory legal study. Student development is examined through an exploration of the 'cultural models' (Gee 1990) attached to the concept by students at the outset of study and the extent to which changes evident in student writings are connected to these changes. The article suggests some implications for pedagogy that derive from this research.
If walls could speak : reflections from visiting a South African higher education classroom : editorial : SAJHE Heltasa ConferenceSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 935 –947 (2008)More Less
During the last couple of years South African higher education institutions went through major transformation - in particular with regard to enrolling increasingly more nonwhite students. Not only do the majority of these students come from an educational impoverished background but also from different cultural and language backgrounds. Given the history of South Africa's higher education system up till now curricula and textbooks and lecturing have been done predominantly by white lecturers, representing western worldviews and ways of understanding and learning. Although a number of policies and initiatives were implemented since 1994 to transform the entire higher education system, undesired differences still exist between the throughput rates of whites and black students.
Given the fact that the majority of lecturing staff in South Africa is still white, I was interested to establish what happens, almost fourteen years after a new government was put in placed within classrooms with diverse student population groups. By using three sets of data namely student evaluation, focus group discussions with lecturing staff and classroom observations I explain how a collective consciousness and ethics for learning have been established and has contributed to changes in an institution's teaching and learning. I argue that the value of this investigation lies within the lessons learned to foster students' and staff's academic development and to design curricula that address the particular needs of the changing South African higher education population.
The focus of my article as an editorial to this special edition of the South African Journal for Higher education is relevant to the debate on how learning and teaching should be transformed in order to be responsive and relevant to the diverse South African higher education student population.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 948 –956 (2008)More Less
The increased use of new teaching and learning technologies in higher education environments makes it possible for academic staff to meet the challenge of having to teach students who are diverse in terms of academic, social and language backgrounds. This study reports how the incorporation of podcasts to supplement visual histology learning content positively influenced students' attitude towards the subject and improved their academic performance in the first-semester examination. It is suggested that academic staff capitalise on the potential of podcasts to supplement or replace lectures since it holds the promise of helping students to become more self-regulatory and autonomous in preparing themselves for face-to-face sessions and for summative assessment. By showing what each of the authors brought to the process of producing the podcast, the idea is propagated that academics who choose to use technology-assisted strategies should collaborate with others who can provide technological and pedagogically oriented assistance.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 957 –980 (2008)More Less
In this article we argue that Kelly's construct psychology (Kelly 1955 ; 1966 / 2003) provides a useful framework for mentoring in the Higher Education sector in South Africa. Kelly's notion of constructive alternativism prompts practitioners to adopt a questioning attitude to life in HE ; newly appointed academic staff members and their mentors have to be open to new experiences and new constructions of meaning, engaging in a reciprocal relationship typically prompting participants consciously to pursue critical reflection, innovation and transformative learning.
We recorded and analysed discursive exchanges (± 130 pages of transcriptions) from two mentor-mentee relationships at the primary author's institution. We used Kelly's theory to identify and interrogate a range of work-related constructs. In addition, we applied Hardy, Palmer and Phillips's discourse-based management model to monitor the outputs of our mentoring. We used Herrmann's principles of learning style flexibility as an additional awareness-raising tool to promote a holistic approach to the scholarship of mentoring (Herrmann 1996). We conclude the article with suggestions for mentoring in the HE sector.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 981 –991 (2008)More Less
One of the major challenges facing South African higher education institutions is to deal with the learning preferences and styles of an increasing diverse student population. Although much research has been conducted on the identification of learning styles theories for classroom application, little attention has been devoted to the investigation of cultural influences on the development of individual learning style preferences, and how lecturers can use this information to diversify the way they teach in order to ensure the active participation of students in multicultural settings. In this article the author argues that learning utilising auditorial perception skills - thus listening skills - are often overlooked as a powerful way of learning. The role of the oral tradition and story telling in learning, partially due to technologies that make use of high quality graphics, are often neglected. The author explores the use of podcasting in the learning process and discusses ways of integrating podcasting into the curriculum.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 992 –1005 (2008)More Less
Whilst the government, higher education authorities and institutions, academics, academic development practitioners, researchers etc. recognize that there is an increasing number and diversity of students accessing higher education, do the stakeholders really know who these students are before even thinking of enhancing their learning and teaching? Certain student retention theories like those of Tinto, Spady and Bean have described the type of students entering higher education, but have failed to describe some real attributes and life-worlds of these students.
The purpose of this article is to present a theoretical model describing the 'circles of progression' of a university student in a South African context. This model describes the progression of a student from pre-entry (school and family background), the initial entry into university (first few weeks / orientation), entry into university (teaching and learning environment) and until completion of studies. Although contributions that report on and seek to theorise on a range of responses to teaching and learning challenges are needed, contributions and theories on who these students are, and what are the factors affecting their academic performance are also as important.
Author J. JawitzSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 1006 –1018 (2008)More Less
A study into how academics learn to assess student performance affirms the significance of context in understanding learning in the academic workplace. The study involved three case studies in academic departments with significant differences in the teaching, research and professional dimensions of academic life. This article reports on the experiences of new academics in one of the case studies, a department in the Natural Sciences. This case study highlights how relationships between colleagues, opportunities for conversations about assessment practice, and the alignment of assessment practices with the kinds of capital valued in each context are important considerations in understanding the ease, or difficulties, new academics experience in learning to judge student performance. Programmes that aim to help academics develop their assessment practice need to recognise that learning to judge student performance involves developing confidence to create and use opportunities to learn within the academic workplace.
Author W.R. KilfoilSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 22, pp 1019 –1028 (2008)More Less
This article looks at the way in which people perceive learning and the impact of these perceptions on teaching methods within the context of learning development in distance education. The context could, in fact, be any type of teaching and learning environment. The point is to balance approaches to teaching and learning depending on student profiles, the purpose of the learning, the resources available, etc. Teaching needs to be informed by research into learning as well as into the disciplinary area : both types of research lead to more scholarly teaching. Learning development is of primary interest to lecturers in higher education but also to teams that work on course development including instructional designers in distance education or multimedia designers. It is also of interest to managers who need to plan resources and environments that support optimal student learning. The Institute for Curriculum and Learning Development at the University of South Africa is particularly concerned with learning theories and how they impact on instructional design and learning development within a team approach. A model needs to show the phases of the curriculum and learning development cycle and the quality assurance measures that infuse it.