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- Volume 23, Issue 4, 2009
South African Journal of Higher Education - Volume 23, Issue 4, 2009
Volumes & issues
Volume 23, Issue 4, 2009
How would Ludwig Wittgenstein have performed in the current South African higher education system? : initiating debateAuthor L. Le GrangeSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 23, pp 629 –634 (2009)More Less
The pressure to perform has migrated from the corporate world into academe. Academics across the globe feel this pressure to perform, often expressed as 'publish or perish'. I reflect on the rising culture of performativity in recent decades and how it has penetrated South African universities. In doing so, I specifically look at the academic life of Ludwig Wittgenstein (regarded by Anglo-American philosophers as the greatest philosopher of the 20th century) to begin to deconstruct performativity regimes in South Africa and in particular the NRF rating system.
Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) and the 'big five' South African research universitiesAuthor N. BoshoffSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 23, pp 635 –655 (2009)More Less
This article critically examines the methodology of the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) by generating raw scores for the 'big five' South African research universities (Stellenbosch, Cape Town, Kwazulu-Natal, Pretoria and the Witwatersrand, henceforth referred to as SU, UCT, UKZN, UP and WITS) using the ARWU indicators. The performance of SU (which has never been ranked among the top 500 universities) is compared to that of the other four universities. The difference between SU and UKZN is that UKZN has one highly cited scientist and four more 'reprint author' affiliations in the journals Nature and Science. UP lost its ranking in the 2008 ARWU but its performance does not show any significant change in terms of the number of articles on which the PUB and N & S indicators are based. Some ARWU indicator scores violate the original proportionality in the source data. The notion of whether a recipe exists for achieving a ranking is discussed, together with the possible consequences of steering institutional research practices towards meeting the ARWU criteria.
Author C.T. DownsSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 23, pp 656 –673 (2009)More Less
First year students' academic performance in three Life Science courses (Botany, Zoology and Bioscience) was compared. Pass rates, as well as the means and distributions of final marks were analysed. Of the three components (coursework, practical and theory examinations) contributing to the final mark of each course, students performed best in the coursework. Subcomponents of the theory examinations of each subject showed students performed more poorly in the essay section. As the highest frequency of students achieved a final mark in the 50 - 60 per cent category for all three subjects, it is clear that the weighting of the examinations to the final mark should not be increased as this would lower students overall performance and decrease pass rates dramatically. It appears that improvement of appropriate assessment tasks linked to learning outcomes, and appropriate development of learning opportunities need to be ongoing in both coursework and examinations for the three courses.
Author H. GeberSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 23, pp 674 –689 (2009)More Less
Entry into a successful academic career is often an arduous process. From career preparation through to doctoral studies and beyond, the journey can be fraught with trials. Why do many academics find difficulty in completing their studies in the minimum time and publishing afterwards? As the University of the Witwatersrand has a strategic goal of increasing the number of academics holding Ph.D.s from the current 48 per cent to 70 per cent by 2020, the 'Research Success and Structured Support' programme was launched in 2007 by the Centre for Learning, Teaching and Development. This article discusses the programme structure, participants' evaluation of the year-long intervention and longitudinal data from a follow-up study conducted in 2008. It is evident in studies conducted in South Africa (Geber 2006) and elsewhere (Sorcinelli 2000) that support including mentoring and coaching is necessary for enabling aspirant academics to establish successful careers. This study confirms and extends earlier findings.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 23, pp 690 –702 (2009)More Less
Today there is an accelerating trend towards qualifications frameworks as an instrument to develop, classify and recognise formal learning across the African continent, as is also the case across most of Europe, Australasia and the Asia-Pacific region. As more and more countries and regions across the world develop qualifications frameworks to improve harmonisation of education and training systems and comparability of qualifications, it is becoming increasingly evident that Africa has not remained unaffected. At present more than twenty African countries are actively engaged in qualifications framework development, including all Southern African Development Community member states and the SADC region as a whole, not to mention exploratory discussions in other regions and talk of a continent-wide 'African Qualifications Framework'.
Starting from an exploration of the apparent Western and Eurocentric origins of qualifications frameworks, and a realisation that education in Africa was influenced by Western and European ideas long before the advent of qualifications frameworks, we consider the extent to which qualifications frameworks influence the way education and training is organised in the African context. As we critically reflect on the seemingly unquestioned, largely uncritical, and nearly always unopposed move towards qualifications frameworks in Africa, we consider whether qualifications frameworks are able to embrace the distinctive tenets of the African context that can, as described by Catherine Odora Hoppers (2008, 24), make it possible to 'place and name' the collective experiences and abilities that African people bring to the field.
Author W. HugoSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 23, pp 703 –721 (2009)More Less
Recent South African meditations on the complex nature of post graduate supervision and teaching by Fataar (2005) and Waghid (2005; 2007) provide excellent accounts of the dialogic space between lecturer / supervisor and student. However, these accounts need to be supplemented by an explicit discussion of the broader academic communities of practice that post graduate students should be inducted into. This article uses the science studies of Latour (1993; 1999), the network theory of Collins (1998; 2004), and the formalization studies of Stinchcombe (2001) to trace the apprenticeship of one masters student into an academic community. It traces her implication within ever expanding intellectual networks and their academic practices as she is inducted into the peculiar rigours of post graduate research.
Author E.M. MgqwashuSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 23, pp 722 –738 (2009)More Less
This article offers a critical reflection upon underlying theoretical and philosophical inclinations which manifest themselves through the type of courses introduced in higher education institutions to meet what is perceived to be students' educational needs. Given the fact that this article seeks to promote an understanding of the nature of teaching and learning as a process that requires conscious reflection, articulation, and development of explanations for practitioners' own choices, Narrative-style interview technique and Grounded Theory (GT) were used as a useful means to collect, conceptualise and organise data. These research methodological choices enabled engagement with data that allow a generation of theoretical account of the impact of practitioners' worlds and experiences on curriculum design. Rather than theorising teaching and learning from abstract ideas detached from actual day-to-day classroom experiences, these choices allow for a theorisation that draws from participants' experience and perceptions in relation to their institutional practices. The research was conducted in Australia at the University of Sydney's English Department. Findings suggest that first year students, regardless of their social class or racial backgrounds, are 'outsiders' in a university, and therefore equally disadvantaged in terms of their access to academic and various disciplinary discourses. The article concludes that the notion of 'educational disadvantage' within higher education can no longer be used as a euphemistic way of referring to a particular race and / or class among tertiary education students.
Author M. SamuelSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 23, pp 739 –761 (2009)More Less
Becoming a professional teacher is falsely understood to be a simple process: usually consisting of a transference of skills to execute classroom pedagogy or classroom management. This article begins by exploring the many forces which influence the curriculum of teacher education in higher education, signaling the complexity of the practice of teaching and the expected roles of teachers within a charged socio-political, ideological as well as educational research arena. It offers a definition of the scope of deep teacher professional development which embraces the complexities of these forces. It particularly addresses the theoretical underpinning that could inform the design and delivery of Initial Professional Education of Teacher (IPET) higher education curricula. The article draws on the experiences of enacting a reconceptualised teacher education curriculum at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Faculty of Education showing the translation of these theoretical conceptions within a curriculum geared towards deep professional learning.
Author D.F.M. StraussSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 23, pp 762 –794 (2009)More Less
Our analysis of the phrase 'social space' first of all concentrates on the modal or functional nature of the different aspects of reality, including the social and spatial aspects. Subsequently this leads to an analysis of the problem of modal analogies - one way in which an answer is given to the perennial philosophical problem concerning the coherence of irreducibles. In this account both the core meaning of diverse aspects surfaced as well as the way in which they display their meaning through their coherence with all the other aspects of reality. In addition we shall argue that a distinction must be drawn between the internal and the external coherence between the social aspect and the other aspects of reality. This points in the direction of acknowledging that all societal collectivities in principle function in all the aspects of reality, including the spatial aspect. Finally a plea is formulated for the internal space (sphere-sovereignty) of every distinct social form of life found within a differentiated society on the basis of rejecting an overestimation of the whole-parts scheme (also found in system theory), while keeping in mind that the whole-parts relation has its original (modal, functional) 'seat' within the aspect of space. This plea includes a brief analysis of the concept of an Umwelt and the term autopoeisis as well as the social space required by educational and academic institutions within a differentiated society. Finally the social space of universities within a differentiated society is assessed with special reference to the task of 'community service' and 'affirmative action'.
'Living' sacrifice and shame : phenomenological insights into continuing, 'distanced' education student experienceAuthor C. ThomsonSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 23, pp 795 –808 (2009)More Less
This article is contextualised within the field of post-graduate, continuing teacher education in South Africa, through an essentially 'distanced', that is, part-time, mixed-mode teaching and learning model. It draws on a broader phenomenological research study into the experiences of students taking a one semester module, Reading and Writing Academic Texts, specifically designed to promote students' academic literacy development in the Bachelor of Education Honours programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The article uses data related, however, only to the embedded experiences of sacrifice and shame as students 'lived' their experience of studying according to this model. It does this in order to argue three main points. The first is for greater cognizance of the 'lived' consequences for students of studying part-time through essentially 'distanced' models of delivery. The second is for recognition of the impact of student experience on the formal, 'intended' curriculum, and the third, by implication, is for recognition of the concomitant consequences for the wider political project of teacher education through these models, particularly in developing countries such as South Africa.
Author P.G. UysSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 23, pp 809 –825 (2009)More Less
This study interrogated the central theoretical statement that understanding and learning to apply the abstract concept of classical dramatic narrative structure can be addressed effectively through a useful audiovisual teaching method. The purpose of the study was to design an effective DVD teaching and learning aid, to justify the design through a literature study, and to test the efficacy of the DVD through approved research methods. Four films were analysed and excerpts containing narrative elements were incorporated in the instructional programme that illuminated classical narrative structure. The teaching instrument was tested on student scriptwriters by exposing two groups (control) to the conventional training method and two groups to the audiovisual method. The research results showed a significant increase (12.6%) in the construction of knowledge and a more skilful application of screenplay structure when students were trained by way of the DVD instructional programme as opposed to the conventional method.
Author C. WagnerSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 23, pp 826 –838 (2009)More Less
Current literature on teaching research methodology in the social sciences highlights the changing nature of our world in terms of its complexity and diversity, and points to how this affects the way in which we search for answers to related problems (Brew 2003, 3; Tashakkori and Teddlie 2003, 74). New ways of approaching research problems that relate to the demands of practice need to be explored. This article presents a future possible scenario for teaching research in the social sciences based on a discussion of the changes in the way that knowledge production is viewed, and the effects of this on South African higher education. In do doing, it draws on the literature on changes in methodological movements in the social sciences. The future is predicted in terms of keywords that are prevalent in these bodies of literature such as pragmatic, interdependent, mixed methods, problem-solving, innovative and socially accountable knowledge.