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- Volume 26, Issue 3, 2012
South African Journal of Higher Education - Volume 26, Issue 3, 2012
Volumes & issues
Volume 26, Issue 3, 2012
Author N. DavidsSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 26, pp 395 –410 (2012)More Less
Inasmuch as Muslims and Muslim women in particular, are struggling to find accommodation and expression in a pluralist society, cosmopolitanism is grappling in its understanding and acceptance of what constitutes the presentations and representations of Muslim women. By proposing a renewed cosmopolitanism as well as a reformed approach to Islamic education, this article sets out to show how cosmopolitanism can contribute to the lived experiences of Muslim women, and how the latter can indeed find a space of recognised articulation. It is the main argument of this article that by re-visiting the notion of the otherness of Other, in terms of cosmopolitanism, and by exploring options for a reformed Islamic education - by specifically looking at the elements of ta'lim (instruction), ta'dib (just action) and tarbiyah (nurturing) - the nurturing of a commensurable relationship is not only possible, but holds unexplored implications for democratic citizenship education.
Author A. ArcherSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 26, pp 411 –421 (2012)More Less
This article builds on and contributes to work in writing pedagogy, with a particular focus on multimodality. Research on writing and academic literacies have examined changing texts in higher education, yet there has not been a particular emphasis on how these texts are reconfigured in the multimodal moment. This article examines the implications of a more inclusive view of the representational landscape for writing pedagogies and academic literacies. It explores the visual nature of writing, and some of the ways academic discourse is constructed across images and writing in texts in Higher Education. It also questions the extent to which visual and verbal modes can be used as critical 'metaforms' for reflection. The aim is to create awareness in order to enable student access to a broader multimodal notion of academic discourse.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 26, pp 422 –440 (2012)More Less
In 2009 we developed an experiential Research Writing course to help academics at our university to become more productive and successful writers. Our aim was to create a stimulating environment in which each participant's voice, knowledge and experience was valued, and where learning was characterised by optimism, creativity and energy. In this article we describe the context which gave rise to the Research Writing course, and the theories of learning and writing which informed course design and development. We also discuss the variations which are inevitable when learning is experiential, and dependent, in part, on group composition and dynamics. Is it possible to design a course for a diverse group of academics from different disciplines, at different levels of seniority and with different first languages? To answer this question we describe three cycles of action research, and reflect critically on our experience of presenting the course.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 26, pp 441 –454 (2012)More Less
Research is a key indicator of university performance and research leadership is a critical variable in achieving research excellence. This qualitative research study examined the 'research stories' of ten research performing academics and the reported research and mentoring experiences of a sample of 30 of their postgraduate mentees to gain a more nuanced understanding of the nature of research leadership, with special attention to how this influences research performance. The unit of analysis was leadership at the disciplinary level within South African higher education. This article discusses one of the salient features common to the research trajectories in this study, namely, leadership by example of personal scholarship. Academic role models, who are themselves performing scientists and scholars, are essential in influencing the intellectual development of the next generation of researchers.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 26, pp 455 –471 (2012)More Less
Participatory methodologies are often favoured in education research. This study aimed to determine collaborative partnership trends between education researchers and teachers in order to understand the use of participatory theory and practice in education studies. Seven symposium presentations by education scholars from various higher education institutions were analysed using trend analysis from a community of practice theoretical framework. It emerged that participatory methodology denotes various characteristics which indicate favourable use by education researchers. Partnerships between education researchers and teachers share common goals, are contextual in nature, have a process-oriented emphasis and foreground knowledge exchange and the development of knowledge networks. In addition, collaborative partnerships between education researchers and teachers appear to be directed by an overarching philosophy of 'care'.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 26, pp 472 –486 (2012)More Less
The challenge of translating equity of access into equity of outcome with students from a differentially resourced secondary education system which may have advantaged or disadvantaged them in demonstrating their academic ability in the conventional matriculation/national senior certificate (NSC) examinations necessitated that Universities undertake a review of selection and admissions criteria within the 'achievement vs. aptitude' as well as the 'NATED vs. National Curriculum Statement (NCS)' discourses. The Faculty of Health Sciences conducted a longitudinal cohort study correlating matriculation/NSC scores, composite and component Alternative Admissions Research Project (AARP) scores and Standardized Assessment Test for Access and Placement (SATAP) English for Academic Purposes scores with average first year performance of all first entry students admitted into programmes offered in the Faculty of Health Sciences in 2008 (matriculants of the NATED curriculum) and 2009 (NSC holders of the outcomes-based education (OBE) curriculum). Results allow the Faculty to confidently use NSC scores as the primary selection tool for students who have received quality secondary education and students whose first language is English. The reasoning test (RT) and placement test in English for educational purposes (PTEEP) as well as composite AARP scores may be used to inform a selection of students whose second language is English and students admitted via alternative access routes respectively, noting that the AARP has since been replaced by the National Benchmark Test (NBT) which consists of commensurate components; thereby addressing equity and redress imperatives while ensuring throughput and success.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 26, pp 487 –502 (2012)More Less
University access programmes inherently and inevitably provide students with a 'label'. Firstly, students are generally segregated and stigmatised as they are treated as a separate group that accessed university somewhat 'illegitimately'. Access programmes generally place more emphasis on academic development and in so doing seem to undermine the importance of inclusivity. Even though evidence suggests that these concerted efforts at 'pulling out' students in order to ensure that they learn in homogeneous environments, the practice somewhat falls short of observing heterogeneity, and does, to some extent, not seem to employ inclusive practices. We therefore argue that inclusion poses a social justice challenge to university access programmes. Through the social critique lens, we challenge stereotypes associated with university access programmes in accordance with critical intellectual enterprises. Critical intellectual enterprises require that we constantly re-evaluate, not only our social institutions, but also the terms that we use to describe our very existence.
Author L.M. KainoSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 26, pp 503 –514 (2012)More Less
The contribution of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the contribution of higher education institutions in achieving these have been emphasized. This study sought to find out the extent to which university-based researches on ICTs addressed and impacted the three MDGs of gender balance, education development and social and economic development in the target communities. The study was descriptive in nature and used both qualitative and quantitative in design using questionnaires, structured interviews and documentary schedules. The findings of the study showed that sensitivity to gender balance was an incidental matter, ICT applications were a means to extend access to wider educational opportunities, information and communications, and these studies added value to primary local economic resources and productivity-related socioeconomic activities. It was concluded that the studies surveyed did make some positive contributions towards the MDGs agenda and the impact was generally not direct.
Author S.M. MaistrySource: South African Journal of Higher Education 26, pp 515 –528 (2012)More Less
The higher education scenario in South Africa is fraught with tensions and contradictions. Publicly funded Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) face a particular dilemma. They are expected to fulfill a social mandate which requires a considered response to the needs of the communities in which they are located while simultaneously aspiring for national and global competitiveness. While it may be argued that these mandates are not in tension with one another, in this article I argue that the reckless appropriation of neo-liberal, western performance-driven models grounded in economic rationalism translates into a form of subtle and sometimes overt 'violence' against and humiliation of marginalized individuals and groups within the university community. I engage the tenets of self-study methodology to reflect on my practice as a middle-level manager (head of school) at a recently merged HEI in KwaZulu-Natal. In particular, I reflect on my complicity in and my attempts to temper the effects of alienating, market-driven university discourse and culture. Drawing on Nussbaum's (2003; 2011; 2010) and Sen's inspirational work on human capabilities (2009; 2005; 1999) and Arendt's insights on what it takes to think in 'dark times' (2006; 1998), I argue that a focus on capabilities rather than achievements is a useful way of engaging the development of higher education personnel as it signals the notions of care and respect as endearing human values that higher education institutions should not neglect in their quest for market share in a hostile neo-liberal environment.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 26, pp 529 –545 (2012)More Less
The purpose of this study was to explore reasons for academics' apathy towards formal professional development programmes at North-West University. The research design was essentially descriptive, employing both qualitative and quantitative research techniques to gather and analyse data. Three techniques, namely, questionnaire surveys, analysis of university documentary sources on professional development, and literature review, were utilised to obtain information.
Despite all the perceived impediments to professional development, the respondents felt optimistic that with the necessary interventions, the outlook of professional development in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) is positive. However, there is an urgent need to take stock of the effectiveness of the current professional development initiatives and the findings from this study would serve as a basis for professional development initiatives in HEIs. To this end the university needs to institute periodic needs assessment for professional development for both academics and the institutions as a whole.
An account of student mentors' 'modes of reflexivity' during an e-mentoring programme at a universityAuthor N. Norodien-FataarSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 26, pp 546 –563 (2012)More Less
This article focuses on the reflexive deliberations of student mentors during an e-mentoring programme at a South African university. Based on semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with student mentors, located in a number of different student residences, this article examines how they engage with their learning and use information and communication technology (ICT) and/or social media, such as MXit, Facebook and cellular phones for their learning socialisation. I draw on Margaret Archer's (2007) concept of 'modes of reflexivity' to highlight their ability to navigate their educational and personal circumstances within the university's context. I show that student mentors' reflexive stances are essential for understanding the nature of ICT use and their learning engagement in mentoring programmes. The article discusses the reflexive stances of four selected student mentors in relation to their ICT use on a mentoring programme. It discusses the impact of exigent conditions at various sites in the university on their ICT navigations. I show how each of the student mentors establishes viable mentoring platforms in the context of a difficult learning context. The article analyses how each mentor's reflexive modes informs his or her engagement and interaction with ICTs. The key conclusion of the article is that student mentors tend to adopt similar stances towards their ICT usage, e-mentoring and their own learning. They establish formative relations between their ICT usage and e-mentoring practices in relation to their own learning. The specific nature of each mentor's reflexive mode explains his or her type of interaction with ICTs and the university's learning environments more generally.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 26, pp 564 –585 (2012)More Less
This article considers students' performance in an identical Economics test at two universities to investigate the predictive power of the NBT against that of Mathematics in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) exam. We find that, on average, both NBT and NSC results are useful predictors of performance in first year Economics. However, for students whose NSC Mathematics marks are close to the minimum admission requirements, the NBT scores (especially in Quantitative and Academic Literacy) are better measures of academic potential. Thus, an admission criterion based on NSC marks alone may exclude students with the academic potential to pass university courses, while it may admit students that are not sufficiently prepared for university studies. Our findings suggest that the NBT should not be used as an alternative to the NSC, but as a complement for admission and correct placement of lower performing applicants.
Students as consumers : the implications of the Consumer Protection Act for higher education institutions in South AfricaAuthor K. ReddySource: South African Journal of Higher Education 26, pp 586 –605 (2012)More Less
The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) lays the basis for the protection of consumer rights in South Africa and comprehensively sets out obligations for 'suppliers'. There have been differing views expressed as to whether a student should be seen as a consumer. It is clear, however, that this Act applies to HEIs. This article, firstly, explores the concept of a student as 'a customer/consumer'. Secondly, it examines specific aspects of the CPA which will have an impact on HEIs as service providers in the education sector. It concludes that the impact of the CPA for business is far-reaching. It also directs that HEIs must take into account the provisions of this Act, particularly with respect to the rights to: equality, generally and with regard to access; disclosure and information; fair and equal marketing practices; and fair and reasonable terms and conditions, as well as fair value and good quality. HEIs are advised to scrutinize their current practices, policies, terms and conditions, in order to ensure that they comply with the Act.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 26, pp 606 –622 (2012)More Less
Various studies have shown that the school system in South Africa is continually producing learners who are inadequately prepared for higher education studies, particularly schools in disadvantaged environments. The University of Venda (UNIVEN) is situated in an educationally disadvantaged environment. Most of the students who enroll at this university come from areas characterized by educational backlogs and low socio-economic status, among others. A study skills training programme was introduced in the Foundation Programme at the University of Venda to enhance the academic performance of first year students who are considered to be at risk. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of the study skills training programme using a quantitative approach. The results indicate that the academic performance of students in the Foundation Programme was lower as compared to that of mainstream students who were not exposed to the study skills training programme. The implications of these findings for student academic development programmes are considered.
Author G.J. Van der WesthuizenSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 26, pp 623 –637 (2012)More Less
Since 1994, education policy documents in South Africa have prioritised the goal of equity in education, understood as increased access to programmes, more equitable staff and student profiles, and curricula that are more responsive to the needs of all students. The challenge of effecting the goal of equity at levels of teaching and learning in university classrooms still remains. This article therefore focuses on notions of 'learning equity' in an attempt to problematise the need for equity at the level of teaching and learning. The purpose is to use a learning theory perspective to develop a deeper understanding of the challenges of equity in practice in order to make recommendations for a more responsive and responsible pedagogy in university environments.
Based on an analysis of equity theory, this article develops an understanding of what equitable learning could entail. Drawing on situated learning theory as espoused by Brown, Collins and Duguid (1998), Rogoff (1990) and others, a framework was developed in terms of which situated learning could be meaningfully facilitated. This framework is used to analyse the scope for learning equity in a specific undergraduate course in Education. From the analysis it is concluded that a careful consideration of learning situations, learning activities, semiotic tools, and the various trajectories students find themselves in open up spaces and options for the facilitation of more equitable learning. The article contributes to the argument that learning theory perspectives allow closer analyses of the challenges of equitable learning.
Assessing the quality of student thinking directly : an exploratory study of two cohorts entering Engineering Education in South AfricaSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 26, pp 638 –657 (2012)More Less
This article presents the findings of an exploratory investigation involving the direct assessment of the quality of abstract thinking of two cohorts of South African university entrants who had very good school leaving qualifications. The investigation was prompted by the observation of difficulties these students seemed to have had in a first year engineering course with regard to conceptualization and problem solving that called for abstract thinking. The investigation was based on neo-Piagetian principles and the benchmarked findings indicated an alarming level of concrete thinking in tasks that called for abstract thinking. The article argues that this is a manifestation of a problematic secondary education system and that quality of thinking has received inadequate research attention as a potentially significant factor influencing student retention and academic performance in the country. It argues further that such research should include a re-evaluation of current first year educational strategies with regard to the development of the quality of student thinking and that, to support this, additional research is needed to develop appropriate instruments for providing objective measures of the quality of student thinking. Based on the experience gained in the study, recommendations are made about directions such research could take.