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- Volume 25, Issue 4, 2011
South African Journal of Higher Education - Volume 25, Issue 4, 2011
Volumes & issues
Volume 25, Issue 4, 2011
Education and education research : moribund fields or dynamic interacting systems? : initiating debateAuthor C. ReddySource: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 635 –642 (2011)More Less
The complex field of education is often depicted as a static field governed by technocratic approaches to activities that characterise the field. Education change is equally viewed in such limited and positivistic ways and linear means-end processes (Hoban 2002). In such orientations to the field, educational research therefore, is about finding rule approaches and law like processes to enable change processes and renewal of the field. I argue that education, when viewed as a dynamic and complex system allows for change within boundaries and space that leads to meaningful and dynamic interactions between complex phenomena leading to open ended interactions and change possibilities that makes for a dynamic, selfrenewing,rather than episodic bureaucraticchange process. This in my view enables education activities to make meaningful professional and socioeconomic contributions often attributed as key functions of the field of education.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 643 –659 (2011)More Less
University departments (including schools and centres) with a direct or indirect link to biotechnology were identified. Representatives at these entities were surveyed to establish what measures South African universities are undertaking to promote biotechnology amongst students. Of the 168 departments identified, 55 submitted usable questionnaires. Four broad types of initiatives were identified: (1) facilitation of funding from the National Research Foundation, (2) facilitation of relevance, (3) facilitation of biotech industry networks, and (4) facilitation of biotech industry funding. Initiatives that the departments most frequently engage in pertain to the traditional role of universities, namely to ensure public funding for students and to academically prepare undergraduate biotechnology students to successfully complete postgraduate studies. Initiatives that link students to the biotechnology sector more directly and dynamically (through various forms of university-industry interaction) are less frequently practiced. The respondents also discussed a number of additional actions that are taken by their departments to facilitate the entrance of students into the biotechnology sector, as well as insights and suggestions as to how universities can promote biotechnology amongst students. The tension between 'biotechnology as a discipline' and 'biotechnology as an interdisciplinary tool' was raised and is highlighted as a subject of concern.
Links between content knowledge and practice in a Mathematics Teacher Education course : a case studySource: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 660 –679 (2011)More Less
This qualitative study examined the link between content knowledge and classroom practice from the perceptions of two university lecturers. The study was contextualized at a higher education institution in South Africa where the two university lecturers were lecturing to a second year undergraduate teacher trainee class (n = 78). The research was conceptualised in terms of Vygotsky's educational theory and the process of scaffolding. Questionnaires in which these lecturers expressed their views on content knowledge in general were administered to them. Video recorded lessons on rates of change in Calculus were observed to triangulate actual lesson instruction and their views on content knowledge and classroom practice. Data yielded by these research instruments confirmed certain assumptions and literature claims. The study revealed that the two university lecturers portrayed a strong link between a lecturers' content knowledge and his/her classroom practice.
The prevalence and characteristics of higher education peer helping programmes : managerial perspectivesSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 680 –695 (2011)More Less
A survey was sent to 33 managers at units and centres involved in Higher Education student-to-student support services in the form of peer help programmes. The survey focused on managers' perspectives on peer help programme demographics, management, planning and resourcing, on intra-institutional and other linkages, as well as on institutional commitment to peer helping. It also requested their views on challenges experienced in these areas, concluding with challenges related to peer programme sustainability. Thirty managers from a wide variety of settings such as student counselling, academic support and student health responded. Their responses articulated the strategic alignment of their programmes with institutional top priorities, functional linkages and partnerships with other institutional support structures and the dedication of staff and students involved in peer helping. Securing sufficient financial, human and physical resources appeared to form the core of their challenges in terms of peer programme management and sustainability.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 696 –709 (2011)More Less
The academic success of first-year Economics students has been the focus of many South African studies in Economic Education. Many used the last school examination (Matric) results as a proxy for students' academic ability. In 2008 a new Matric curriculum was introduced. Given various changes in the curriculum, the question arises as to whether Matric results are still significant in explaining academic performance, and whether the matriculants from the 2008 curriculum perform differently. Factors such as the students' time spent on studying outside lectures, their work status, and the impact of using an English textbook on the performance of non-English speakers are also investigated. A two-step Heckman model is applied to investigate the performance of Economics students at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. The main results are that students who matriculated under the new curriculum, worked part-time, spent less time studying, and are not English-speaking perform worse.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 710 –724 (2011)More Less
This article argues for the integration of both scholastic and practice-centred epistemologies within an Environmental Education (EE) post-graduate curriculum that is oriented towards sustainability and socio-ecological justice. It is an interpretive study based on an in-depth analysis of five assignments by four scholars registered for the M.Ed. EE course at Rhodes University where a contextualised, reflexive research process, based in a work-place context, forms the integrative pedagogic tool. Analyses indicate that involving students in such a process, with close support and guidance, is an effective means of developing both scholastic and practical epistemologies. It is concluded that research-led integration of scholastic and practice-centred epistemologies in a transformational curriculum has the potential to provide epistemological access to the academy, advance knowledge within disciplines, and challenge the dominance of scholastic knowledge in higher education settings.
Author V. FrithSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 725 –740 (2011)More Less
This article presents a description of and motivation for the quantitative literacy (numeracy) intervention in the first year of medical studies at a South African university. This intervention is a response to the articulation gap between the quantitative literacy of many first-year medical students and the demands of their curriculum. Interventions of this kind should be integrated into the medical curriculum, primarily because quantitative literacy is a practice which is embedded in the disciplinary practices. Tensions involved in attempting this integration are largely due to structural conditions and other curricular factors. Results of evaluation of its effectiveness show that the intervention is seen as useful by the students and that the workshops provided are effective in improving students' performance in assessments. The intervention should be enhanced by including aspects that address students' spatial abilities and reading and writing competencies. Extension of quantitative literacy provision beyond first year is also desirable.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 741 –759 (2011)More Less
Academics are actively encouraged to disseminate new knowledge to the scientific community by publishing in scholarly journals. External and internal barriers to writing, however, prevent many authors from writing for publication. This article gives an account of an intervention to provide hands-on coaching to inexperienced academic authors. Seventy four five-day workshops have been presented to over 1 000 participants from different disciplines in Southern Africa since 2005. External barriers to being published were identified through a survey of academic journal editors' experiences of common errors made by authors. Internal barriers were identified through literature as well as from reflection on practice during the course of the interventions. Two follow-up web-based surveys, after two and four years respectively, investigated the experiences of workshop participants. Survey findings reveal authors' experiences of writing and identify perceived benefits of skills learned during the workshop. A framework is proposed which could guide planning and implementation of similar interventions. The research suggests that facilitating development of skills through a workshop of this nature helps to overcome barriers to writing for publication, thus improving scholarship in higher education.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 760 –783 (2011)More Less
The Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at the University of Limpopo (Medunsa Campus) redesigned their curriculum at the beginning of 2010. The template that was developed shows the horizontal and vertical integration of outcomes. Although the outcomes of the entire process met the requirements of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and the level descriptors of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) (2007), the development process did not go without difficulties. This article describes the process of re-engineering the curriculum and critically reflects on the problems encountered. Results obtained from questionnaires reflected the opinions of the staff members with regard to problems experienced, but also the gains made in terms of personal growth, as well as the benefits for teaching and learning. The experiences gained from re-engineering the curriculum enabled the authors to make recommendations to overcome challenges when attempting the process of curriculum development in future.
Author S. SchulzeSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 784 –802 (2011)More Less
This study is framed by self-efficacy theory (SET). It aimed to determine successful research students' views of supervisory practices they had experienced. The research design was an embedded design. A questionnaire determined the views of 52 students in one college at Unisa on the support they received for successful experiences; the influence of role modelling; and the encouragement and emotional support they received. Some items determined the role of peers and institutional support. Four open-ended questions were also included. The study identified factors that enhanced students' self-efficacy. It also identified the main issues that supervisors and institutions need to address. Supervisors need to be trained in supervision according to SET. The institution also needs to be more efficient with regard to some services and more innovative in providing research workshops and contact with other research students.
Author A.M. SinghSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 803 –818 (2011)More Less
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a process of evaluating an adult learners previous experience, skills, knowledge and informal learning and articulating it towards a formal qualification. Whilst RPL is enshrined in a number of international qualifications frameworks, there are certain barriers which have prevented its application and widespread use. These include personal, institutional, financial and procedural barriers. In 2007, the Graduate School of Business of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, admitted seven students onto the MBA programme on the basis of RPL. The decision was challenged by senior academics at Faculty level on the basis that it was unfair that someone with no prior qualifications could be admitted to Masters Study programme and would obtain a qualification equal to or just below that of academics who had spent at least seven years to achieve a Masters qualification. It was counter-claimed that RPL was a national imperative and one which the University had a moral obligation to meet. Furthermore, it was argued that, on the basis of the University policy on RPL, the School and Faculty had an obligation to comply. This study aimed to determine the academic merit of RPL (a student's performance on the programme) and whether or not RPL students needed additional support or mentorship. Based on the student's results, RPL has been found to have academic merit and RPL students did not require additional support in order to succeed on the MBA.
Author L. WoodSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 819 –837 (2011)More Less
Although much has been written on the need to integrate HIV into tertiary education programmes, very little research has been done in terms of how it should be done. This article will report on the first phase of a larger action research project designed to research, develop and evaluate best practices for the transformation of the curricula of higher education programmes to make them more relevant and responsive to the realities of living and working in the age of AIDS. Using a phenomenological design, academics from three faculties were interviewed to generate baseline data around their feelings, perceptions, attitudes and practices regarding HIV education in their fields of study. The findings reveal that, while academics recognize the importance of HIV integration in principle, in practice several barriers exist. On the whole, a narrow conceptualisation of HIV and AIDS precludes them from recognising the many possibilities that exist for meaningful integration of HIV education. Implications are drawn from these findings to inform the intervention phase of the project.
Author C.B. ZuluSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 25, pp 838 –852 (2011)More Less
Research on women in leadership has received growing attention in recent years. But not enough studies have investigated the way women construct leadership and management of the academic department. This article reports on the findings of an inquiry into the experiences of women heads of academic departments (HoDs) at universities in South Africa and the United Kingdom. Data were collected by means of a survey questionnaire, and statistical analyses were conducted to determine frequency distributions and mean values on the perceptions of the women on leadership and management issues. Findings indicate that female leadership is characterized by strong communication and interpersonal skills; information and power-sharing; professionalism and integrity; servant leadership; participatory, collaborative, androgynous and transformational leadership styles. These findings illuminate in particular, women's ways of leading, and provide a basis for further research into how these ways can be optimally used for the benefit of academic departments.