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- Volume 25, Issue 2, 2011
South African Journal of Higher Education - Volume 25, Issue 2, 2011
Volumes & issues
Volume 25, Issue 2, 2011
Speaking truth to power : understanding education research and the educational turn in South Africa's new century : introductory articleSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 195 –215 (2011)More Less
Knowledge generation over the decade 1995-2004 in South Africa, and its relationship to the changing nature of socio-economic landscapes, suggests an ever closer relationship between the research produced in higher education, and its social and scientific purposes. These have been identified largely by the State through its regulatory frameworks, economic, and social agendas. In this article we examine the research generation of postgraduate students of education in South African higher education institutions in the first decade after apartheid. Using the Project for Postgraduate Education Research (PPER) as an example, we explore the role of large-scale research projects in South Africa, and how such work might respond to Government priorities, as well as issues identified by society and the academy in partnership with the State.
What you do and where you are : a comparative analysis of postgraduate education research (1995-2004) from three South African higher education institutionsSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 216 –232 (2011)More Less
This article explores the postgraduate educational research undertaken at three South African higher education institutions during the period 1995 to 2004. The institutions are Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape, the University of the Witwatersrand in Gauteng, and the University of Zululand in KwaZulu-Natal. They are located in geographical and social contexts that differ in terms of centre-periphery relations, economic conditions, and spatio-histories. Spatial theorists have contended that, inasmuch as we configure and develop our surroundings, our contexts constitute us and influence our practices and social relations. In applying this to higher education institutions we might say that they perform their context in and through their research. On this basis we compare the body of postgraduate educational research from each institution to understand how these institutions relate to, and are a performance of, their contexts. We consider the meanings of strong or weak performance in the correlation of research to context.
Africanising scholarship : the case of UDW, Natal and UKZN postgraduate educational research (1995-2004)Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 233 –251 (2011)More Less
In 2004 the universities of Durban-Westville and Natal merged as part of the national restructuring of higher education in South Africa. These institutions' faculties and schools of education were, arguably, centres of excellence for research in adult education, teacher education and professional development, mathematics education and gender in education. In its institutional tagline of 'the premier university of African Scholarship', the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) expressed a vision that marked a significant departure from the past. Questions about the meaning of African Scholarship lead the authors to explore how the former institutions' postgraduate research constitutes a gene pool that already included strands of the central concept in the merged institution's vision statement.
This article explores the postgraduate educational research output stored in the PPER archive from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and its former institutions, a body of over 370 theses, with a focus on the Doctoral theses. We describe how the earlier and current institutions' key areas of research foci manifest in these theses and critically interrogate the research output i.e. how the 'ancestor' institutions' postgraduate research might have anticipated the UKZN vision. We argue that the postgraduate education research from the two 'ancestor' institutions shows evidence of similar formative DNA-like strands to African Scholarship, and were a necessary precondition and preparatory stage for UKZN's emergence and adoption of an African Scholarship vision in 2004.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 252 –268 (2011)More Less
This article examines the discourses of theses titles as postgraduate students name and frame their research. It does this by analysing the discourse, nature and trends of title construction in Master's and Ph.D. research titles 1995-2004 in all universities in South Africa. The dominant discourses are analysed using Foucault's approach to discourse analysis in order to interrogate their role in the framing of research. What emerges from this discourse analysis is that postgraduate students in our survey use a variety of linguistic devices to frame their research agendas. Also revealing is the fact that most of the frames used draw on assumptions available in research literature and in the Foucauldian sense are thus framed by the powerful institutions, in this sense, authors of research guides. The implications of how discourses are used in the naming and framing of research is discussed.
The nature of experimental and quasi-experimental research in postgraduate education research in South Africa : 1995-2004Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 269 –286 (2011)More Less
It is widely known that there is a dearth of education research in South Africa which takes as its methodological basis experimentation. The emphasis has been on educators' and learners' experiential understanding in the first decade of democracy after apartheid, when qualitative research predominated. The article investigates, first, the extent of experimental and quasi-experimental research designs. Second, we examine, drawing upon a sample of theses which self-report as experimental and quasi-experimental research, the extent to which such methodologies are actually deployed and with what success or efficacy. And, third, we interrogate the associations of experimental and quasi-experimental designs with particular disciplines within education. This article points out the problems with random assignment of participants into experimental and control group in educational settings. Most of the experimental research is concentrated in three institutions in the Gauteng Province, while there are six institutions where this methodology is not used. Also, the experimental designs are prevalent in the psychology of education discipline. This points, ultimately, to the lack of supervision capacity in the experimental designs in South African higher education institutions.
Postgraduate educational research on violence, gender, and HIV/AIDS in and around schools (1995-2004)Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 287 –300 (2011)More Less
Social issues such as HIV/AIDS, bullying, and violence have recently come to the fore in schooling and related research in South Africa. This article describes and critically analyses Masters and Ph.D. research done in education in the period 1995-2004, with particular reference to the voice given to social issues, namely: gender, violence, and HIV/AIDS and their interconnectedness. It explores issues, trends, and patterns in research emerging in the first decade of democracy in South Africa.
Unpacking the predominance of case study methodology in South African postgraduate educational research, 1995-2004Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 301 –321 (2011)More Less
The Project Postgraduate Educational Research (PPER) data indicate that case study is the most popular methodology among South African education masters and doctorate students in the period 1995-2004. This article reflects on the reasons for the preference for case study by considering epistemological and contextual factors. It unpacks the links between the methodological choice of case study, on the one hand, and the thematic focus and sectoral location of theses, on the other. While acknowledging the strengths of case study methodology regarding manageability, depth and experiential texture, the article argues that the predominance of case study limits the applicability of research to wider questions of policy and implementation, and thus contributes to the hiddenness of students' voices in public discourse around education. It suggests ways of enhancing the wider relevance of case studies through multiple case designs, sequential case studies, mixed method designs and synoptic reviews.
On the right and left of the centre : ABET and ECE postgraduate educational research in South Africa, 1995-2004Author P. RuleSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 322 –340 (2011)More Less
Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) and Early Childhood Education (ECE) are the stepchildren of the South African education system in terms of resource allocation and public attention, and yet vitally inform the enterprise of lifelong learning and the prospects for developing a learning nation. The paucity of research on ECE and ABET, and Adult Education more widely, in the Project for Postgraduate Educational Research (PPER) survey, underlines this marginality. Drawing on theoretical perspectives from lifelong learning and lifelong education, this article examines the trends within the existing corpus of research in ECE and ABET regarding regional and institutional profile, methodology and thematic focus in the decade 1995-2004. It also considers the relation between key policy developments and the research corpus. It argues that the development of ECE and ABET depends in part on extending and deepening research capabilities in both areas in South African universities. This is a tenuous prospect given the marginality of the two areas in relation to schooling and the current neoliberal context of tertiary education.
Rurality and rural education : discourses underpinning rurality and rural education research in South African postgraduate education research 1994-2004Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 341 –357 (2011)More Less
Historically, rurality and rural education have been marginalised bodies of knowledge in South Africa. The post-1994 era has seen an emerging government concern to address the continuing interplay between poverty, HIV/AIDS, underdevelopment, and underachievement in schools categorised as rural. To address these concerns, scholars in South African institutions of higher learning have conducted research on various issues on rurality and rural education. However, little is known of the focus of the various studies and the state of rural education and rural education research.
Drawing on the Project for Postgraduate Education Research (PPER) from 1995-2004, the purpose of this article is to critically analyse the discourses underpinning rural education and rural education research in South Africa. The article focuses on three enabling assumptions. The first is that there is little research which takes as its primary focus rurality as lived experience worthy of scholarly reflection regarding how rurality influences social or specific education issues. Secondly, there is substantively more research in which rurality, or facets of rural life, is considered as context in which projects or studies are located. Such studies are conducted in a rural context without any intention of investigating rural issues or rural education issues, or explaining how rurality influences education in these rural contexts. Thirdly, there is a small body of research which takes as its focus social issues in relation to rural conditions. These studies focus on rurality not merely as the context of reflection, but as an active constituent of social conditions evident in rural life. Our analysis, focusing on postgraduate research in South African HEIs in terms of these assumptions, aims to continue a dialogue that leads to further understanding of the complexities of rural education and rural development.
Post-graduate supervision practices in South African universities in the era of democracy and educational change 1994-2004Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 358 –372 (2011)More Less
Supervision might be understood as the provision usually by an academic to a student of either the expert guidance in subject knowledge or genre knowledge in relation to postgraduate thesis development. The Project for Postgraduate Educational Research (PPER) team members, in the course of their field visits, sought to interview supervisors of postgraduate education research in the different institutions' faculties and schools of education where there was a substantive history of successful supervision. Evidence of sustained supervision was determined by the number of theses found in particular disciplines supervised by the same supervisor who is still employed at the institution at the time of the project visit.
This article raises questions with regard to pedagogy and research and explores the complex nature of supervisory relationships which is central to the pedagogy of postgraduate education. Questions about the pedagogy of postgraduate education research leads the authors to explore how conventional attachments to supervisory relationships are challenged, changed or remain unaltered (Johnson et al. 2000, 137) - in the context of higher education, where, according to the CHE (2009), Ph.D. candidature has become more frequent. Our argument is that supervisory relationships in PhD pedagogy are negotiated and defined by the supervisors' particular ideas and interests about scholarship and knowledge generation, within situated, institutional realities. We find a variety of supervisory models and practices which arise from supervisors' ideological commitments, as well as personal experiences, and we conclude that there is exists a continuum - from a traditional model where there is deep, intense attachment to the one-to-one relationship on one end, a hybrid model where the supervision relationship is reconfigured and opened up for multiple relationships, on the other end.
'Now you call us colleagues' : a reflection on the PPER students' experience of becoming researchers 2007 and 2009Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 373 –387 (2011)More Less
Students within academic research projects usually assume a role of supporting the academics/scholars who are undertaking those research projects. The students' identity in this case is regarded as research assistants, with minimal valued input to the project itself. With time, however, this identity may change based on the roles and relationships between students and the academics in the projects. Drawing on our experiences as students embarking on their postgraduate studies within such a project, this article reflects on the shift in the relationships between us and the supervisors, who are the academics undertaking a Project on Postgraduate Education Research (PPER). It narrates the changing dynamics of our identities within this project from being called 'students' to 'colleagues' as we participate in the project. Two theories frame this article. First is Sambrook, Stewart and Roberts's (2008) typology of supervisory relationships which is described as distanced professional/academic; familiar professional/academic; and familiar social/academic. Second, we use Michaelsen's (2004) team-based learning to understand the collaborative learning within research projects.