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- Volume 28, Issue 3, 2014
South African Journal of Higher Education - Volume 28, Issue 3, 2014
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Volume 28, Issue 3, 2014
Higher education for democratic citizenry through the creation of sustainable learning environments - leading article : Part 1 : exploration of the critical relationship between higher education and the development of democracy in South AfricaSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 673 –677 (2014)More Less
John Samuel (2013) teaches that democracy is the non-negotiable pillar of the South African nation because it is regarded as the most effective mechanism for ensuring that South Africans live in an equitable society, which is free and is marked by fairness, peace, hope and social justice. It is also through the operationalisation of and adherence to democracy and its principles that the whole movement towards the re-humanisation of this country was mounted. Higher education as the leader in all facets of people's lives is thus consistently and constantly being called upon to disseminate and monitor proper implementation of this social arrangement.
Higher education and democracy : analysing communicative action in the creation of sustainable learning environments : Part 1 : exploration of the critical relationship between higher education and the development of democracy in South AfricaAuthor S.M.G. MahlomaholoSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 678 –696 (2014)More Less
Couched in the theory of communicative action as the theoretical framework, this article documents how the engagement of a South African university's research team with the local school community has facilitated the conversations and activities among its teachers, learners and parents. This in turn has led towards the enhancement of learner performance in the study of mathematics in a Grade 9 class. The theory of communicative action is understood as the democratic action based on the discursive rationality and validity of the arguments of individuals and/or groups of collectives. Because these communicative action decisions are not imposed, learners, teachers and parents have taken ownership of their own learning and this has resulted in improved performance. At the same time, both researchers and participants have understood their democratic role and power in ensuring the success of this academic project. The findings indicate that a university, given its immense resources, including intellectual capital, can play a significant role in the creation of networked power, emancipatory knowledge, empowered subjectivities and spaces of solidarity which are the conditio sine qua non for good academic performance and sustainability of any democracy.
Revisiting pedagogic practices : a case for sustainable learning environments for postgraduate supervision studies : Part 1 : exploration of the critical relationship between higher education and the development of democracy in South AfricaAuthor M.M. NkoaneSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 697 –706 (2014)More Less
This article aims to encourage a radical and democratic approach towards the supervision of postgraduate studies at higher education institutions (HEIs). The article further amplifies the notion of sustainable learning environments (SuLE), where people use their privileged positions to create opportunities for learning and advancement of others. The article valorises the sentiments of SuLE for a rejuvenated sense of agency and democratic citizenry with fresh lenses to interrogate current pedagogic practices in higher education. The theoretical framework adopted in the article views SuLE as a contestation of marginalisation and demystifying the notion of 'experts'. Sustainable learning environments are then seen as enabling and empowering environments for postgraduate studies. This kind of learning environment or pedagogic practice provides opportunities for critical engagements, creativity and negotiated pedagogic practices. The article concludes by demonstrating how SuLE create a collaborative team approach and encourage transparency and inclusion in leading to a quality research process and outcomes.
Learners' perceptions and experience of the content and teaching of sexuality education : implications for teacher education : Part 1 : exploration of the critical relationship between higher education and the development of democracy in South AfricaSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 707 –716 (2014)More Less
This article aims to explore Grade 11 learners' perceptions and experience of the teaching of sexuality education. A total of 270 adolescent boys (n = 121) and girls (n = 149) from the Heidedal suburb of the greater Mangaung Municipality, South Africa, completed an anonymously written Teaching of Sexuality Education Attitude Scale (TSEAS). The questionnaire was constructed on a six-point Likert scale with response options ranging from 1 (highly disagree) to 6 (highly agree). Factor analysis of the questionnaire and an independent sample t-test to determine the means differences by gender on the scale dimensions were done. The findings showed that boys are significantly more open and comfortable with speaking about sex during class than girls. In addition, the boys reported that they are more comfortable with their sex education teacher and that they, more than girls, could share their experiences about sex. In conclusion, learners' perceptions and experience of the teaching and learning of sexuality education may be useful in scaling up efforts to enhance the content of sexuality education and how it is taught. More importantly, however, there is a need to find ways to increase girl's participation and comfort level in the sexuality education classroom. The article concludes with implications for teacher education.
Democratic postgraduate student leadership for a sustainable learning environment : Part 1 : exploration of the critical relationship between higher education and the development of democracy in South AfricaAuthor M. TshelaneSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 717 –732 (2014)More Less
This article examines the opportunities and challenges experienced by postgraduate student leaders for a sustainable learning environment (SuLE) in a democratic setting. The article explores how students and student leaders develop their research skills using a common methodology and theoretical framework. A SuLE serves as a platform for collaboration, support and self-empowerment for academic success. A critical, emancipatory and qualitative research approach was employed which, in turn, was used by these students as a form of support for sustaining academic progress in postgraduate studies. A participatory action research (PAR) process was used in four different clusters of master's and doctoral students. The four clusters were from different sections of KwaZulu-Natal, North-West and Free State provinces of South Africa and international students from Lesotho, adding up to 50 students participating in this project. The Free Attitude Interview (FAI) technique was used so as to ensure in-depth views of the opportunities and challenges experienced by the students. A video-tape was used and proceedings were transcribed and analysed in line with the objectives of the article using critical discourse analysis (CDA) techniques. The main findings were: experience through a clear vision; a sense of success through a shared vision; and experience through the acquisition of diverse skills and leadership abilities.
'Water, water everywhere ...' : new perspectives towards theory development for rural education research in (South) Africa : Part 1 : exploration of the critical relationship between higher education and the development of democracy in South AfricaAuthor R.J. BalfourSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 733 –747 (2014)More Less
The scarcity of rural education research in South Africa parallels the relative absence of theory development emerging from the developing world. Education research is influenced by the paradigms in which it is located and draws from established (and Western) theories of psycho-social, geo-spatial, economic, and political development (Moletsane 2012, 2). The questions posed by such theories (whether post-colonial, critical, gender or geo-spatial) require responses from developing societies measured mostly in contrast to ideals established or validated elsewhere. While Northern hemisphere theorists may be describing the implications (theoretical economic, educational or geographic) of globalisation, the agenda for the developing East, and especially Africa, is influenced by a geo-spatial context which remains largely rural. If the environment, as noted by Stromquist (2002, 158), remains a major concern globally, it is seldom acknowledged as a factor in higher education research with reference to a focus on education development in Africa. This article contends that suitable theory can be developed to pose questions concerning the efficacy of education in Africa concerning rurality and education research.
Teaching practice at a rural school? 'And why should we go there?' : Part 1 : exploration of the critical relationship between higher education and the development of democracy in South AfricaSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 748 –766 (2014)More Less
The National Framework for Quality Education in Rural Areas (DoE 2006) draws attention to education in rural ecologies and scrutinises the role of higher education institutions (HEIs) in developing teachers who understand the diverse contexts and who are able to facilitate quality teaching and learning in such contexts. This article explores how a teaching practice programme at a rural school can contribute to creating a sustainable learning environment, and cultivate a democratic citizenry. The article draws on work done in the project 'New teachers for new times': Visual methodologies for social change in rural education in the age of AIDS. It also argues that when pre-service teachers are taken out of their comfort zones to teach as a cohort in a school in a rural context, where they are enabled and supported by teacher-educators through daily debriefing and reflection, a shift in their thinking about teaching and about themselves as teachers and democratic citizens can occur.
Reconceptualising the teaching of heritage in schools : Part 1 : exploration of the critical relationship between higher education and the development of democracy in South AfricaAuthor B.B. MoreengSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 767 –786 (2014)More Less
The broader education system in South Africa, and specifically history teaching, has undergone changes that aimed both to cleanse the subject content of discriminatory and incriminating practices, and to affirm previously neglected histories. Thus, the principles of democratic citizenry, such as critical thinking, clear reasoning and respect for multiple perspectives were enhanced. This article uses a postcolonial discourse to report on a study conducted in the Free State, South Africa. It adds to the debate on enhancing democracy through education and augments the creation of sustainable learning environments by accommodating previously neglected forms of historical knowledge and heritage conceptualisation. Qualitative focus-group interviews were used to investigate how teachers conceptualise and teach heritage during their history lessons. The findings revealed that the participants' initial training and socialisation plays an important part in conceptualising and teaching heritage from a predominantly colonial and imperialistic perspective. This approach disdains African knowledge systems and how Africans make meaning of their past, thereby compromising critical learning, as experiences and interpretations from one perspective only are promoted. It is recommended that history educators be exposed to other ways of interpreting the past, for example postcolonial discourse, to assist in challenging the legacy of imperialism, colonialism and apartheid instilled in history educators' and learners' approach towards heritage. The findings impact on the initial and in-service training of history teachers in that a more open way is needed of looking at the past and exposing them to multiple perspectives in the teaching of history.
Critical community psychology in education : an argument for transformative autonomy : Part 1 : exploration of the critical relationship between higher education and the development of democracy in South AfricaAuthor W.N. NelSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 787 –797 (2014)More Less
Using the concept of transformative autonomy as a guide, this article speculates about the possibilities of it offering to develop a critical community psychology in education which strengthens education as a public good in South Africa's democracy. The speculations are cast against two sets of data, namely: primary school role players' narratives about the learner support offered and received in their contexts; and high school learners' understanding of Dewey's notion of the purpose of progressive education. These data sets were analysed using a qualitative appraisal of the psychopolitical validity of the responses. The parents, teachers and learners of two rural primary schools displayed psychopolitically valid understandings of learner support as their business first, before it is that of the government. The high school learners (in Grade 10 and 11) demonstrated, at least, epistemic psychopolitically valid understandings that progressive education should be for social transformation in a progressive direction. Higher education, by emphasising transformative autonomy during teacher education, can play a crucial role in framing education as a public good and for the furtherance of democracy.
Teacher professional learning in the context of policy implementation : Part 1 : exploration of the critical relationship between higher education and the development of democracy in South AfricaSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 798 –815 (2014)More Less
Teacher professional learning is assumed to be an ongoing priority in any education system, perhaps especially so in societies where democratic participation is to be enhanced. Such learning builds on teacher preparation programmes offered by higher education institutions (HEIs), and is encouraged for various purposes, one of which is to support the implementation of new policies. The introduction of the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) in South Africa is exemplary, and aimed at improving the equity, quality and sustainability of curriculum delivery on a national scale. The implementation of the IQMS involved the traditional cascading approach, relying upon teachers to learn, change their practices, and comply. The focus of this inquiry was into the ways in which teachers responded to the IQMS implementation demands and how they used the policy to learn and benefit from the process. The purpose was to develop an authentic and comprehensive understanding of such learning processes and how they may be sustained in order to make recommendations for future policy implementation and teacher professional learning. Data was collected by means of an action research process in a rural school in KwaZulu-Natal and analysed with grounded theory methods. These methodologies were chosen for their possibility of enabling teacher voices, a key condition for the building of democratic citizenry. Based on the findings, a Teacher Professional Learning Framework (TPLF) was developed, representing teacher learning in terms of the dimensions of preparedness, policy interpretation, collaborative learning, and policy feedback. Recommendations for policy and practice are considered.
Teacher induction in Ethiopia : structures and practices : Part 1 : exploration of the critical relationship between higher education and the development of democracy in South AfricaSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 816 –831 (2014)More Less
Teacher education needs to be viewed as a continuum that begins with pre-service learning, followed by teacher induction, and then the continuing professional development (CPD) of teachers. To date researchers know much less about teacher induction relative to the other two phases of teacher education, in part because of its informal nature in most schools. Ethiopia is an exception and one of the few countries in the world that has recently introduced an institutionalised and formal multi-year induction programme for beginning teachers. This article examines the organisation and practice of teacher induction in Ethiopia by exploring the experiences of three first-year primary school teachers. The findings suggest that while the structure and organisation of the mentoring programme are similar across schools, the professional guidance and assistance that is offered to the first-year teachers varies greatly depending on a number of factors. The article concludes with a discussion of the need to re-examine the conditions of implementing the induction programme. Without proper resources, enough mentors, sufficient time allocated, and regular on-site monitoring, the formal teacher induction programme is unlikely to realise its intended benefits of supporting beginning teachers with adequate subject knowledge and the skills required for quality teaching in the schools.
Can universities meet their mandate to be socially critical as well as constructive? : Part 1 : exploration of the critical relationship between higher education and the development of democracy in South AfricaSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 832 –848 (2014)More Less
This article defends the claim that two conditions facilitate sustainable development, namely, a democratic citizenry, and social justice, and that in establishing these, the university is indispensable and ideally placed. With the use of an experiential, interpretive approach the article examines the social critique function of the university, as well as the role of the university in reinforcing a culture of democratic citizenry and thereby of promoting social justice. The last part of the article delineates the current global higher education revolution, and identifies the opportunities and threats posed by that revolution regarding the university's discharge of these two functions. The article concludes with a warning to scholars to be aware of both the opportunities for consolidating their scholarship and the concomitant threats to their academic autonomy.
Spectacle and spectators : higher education and the 'disappearance' of democracy : Part 1 : exploration of the critical relationship between higher education and the development of democracy in South AfricaAuthor A. KeetSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 849 –865 (2014)More Less
In the absence of deep knowledge transformation and in the format of its responses to societal challenges and state politics, higher education plays a part in positioning the state as the 'unifying horizon for all political representation' (Readings 1993, xx). In South Africa, a 'designed' human rights state and the process by which the state becomes the 'end of politics' was completed in less than 20 years after the 1994 democratic elections. Higher education, along with popular images, presents the state as the 'terminal point for political thought' (Readings 1993, xx) and is thus complicit in the absence of an authoritative politics outside the state. Using theoretical frames related to The Society of the Spectacle (Debord 1994 ) and political outsides, this article argues that higher education contributes to the disappearance of democracy.
Sustainable development as social equity : policy contradictions and their impact on higher education : Part 1 : exploration of the critical relationship between higher education and the development of democracy in South AfricaAuthor M. Monnapula-MapeselaSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 866 –884 (2014)More Less
Common discourse on sustainable development (SD) in higher education places emphasis on caring for, as well as protecting, the environment and natural resources. This conceptualisation negates the two other crucial pillars, namely, social equity and economic development. In South African higher education efforts for sustainable development are gaining popularity, although the focus is still on environmental sustainability. The thrust of this article is to analyse South African higher education policy for its pronouncement on SD in general and on social equity in particular. The article argues that although education underpins the success of SD, higher education policy shows minimal concern for SD. The article argues that SD found little space, if any, in the broad policy transformation agenda in 1994, yet it depends - and greatly so - on relevant, rigorous policy intervention and steering, not only for advocacy, but more importantly to curb the prevalence of factors that threaten sustainable education.
Author C. JacobsSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 885 –888 (2014)More Less
This special section contains a selection of articles that were presented as papers at the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA) Conference, which was held from 28-30 November 2012 and hosted by Stellenbosch University. The conference, one of the largest in the HELTASA series, attracted 539 delegates and spanned 12 parallel sessions with 264 presentations. The conference theme was: Higher education that matters to society that matters to higher education and the conference logo presented the theme in a circular fashion, graphically illustrating the ongoing relationship between society and higher education. In his welcome message, then rector and vice-chancellor of Stellenbosch University, Professor Russel Botman, commented on how the conference theme drew higher education and society into a circular relationship, and how the message binding them was that higher education and society need to matter to each other.
Framing higher education as a means to address the expectations of society using different frames (of mind) - leading article : Part 2 : HELTASA 2012 Special SectionAuthor P. Du ToitSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 889 –893 (2014)More Less
The focus of this article is on higher education seen as being framed differently and its response to the expectations of society at large. The article does not argue for a specific frame to be used. It rather serves as an editorial outer-frame for the individual innerframes published in this special issue - each article being a different frame designed or made; simple or ornate; and so on, by an individual (author) or group (co-authors) of craftsmen and/or craftswomen. As higher education is multidimensional in all aspects, it is complex and each article can only offer a small 'abstracted visual' representation of the 'bigger picture' (what is currently known) of the higher education world and the world of society in which it exists. Some articles are framed as still lives, some as landscapes, others as portraits - readers may decide. The aim of the article, as the outer-frame, is the initiating of scholarly discourse on the views that readers are offered to see through the different frames with a view to inviting them to engage in the discourse - appreciating what is offered as a painting, other fine art, digital image, quilt, and so on. The author draws on the work of several authors whom he considers scholars of mainly learning and teaching in its widest sense, and scholars of leadership in and of higher education within a societal perspective to underpin the current discourse. The line of thought is guided by the keywords provided for each article.
Heeding the 'corpse in the cargo' : the writing centre and the need to listen : Part 2 : HELTASA 2012 Special SectionAuthor P. NicholsSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 894 –906 (2014)More Less
Transformation is perhaps an overused word. It is not written in the South African Constitution (RSA 1996), although it is used daily by politicians in the African National Congress (ANC). The eyes of many South Africans become glazed when they hear it. Yet it is crucial in a country which is still poised between chaos and progress, which still has the potential either to dissolve into race related riots or to build itself into a creative multicultural democracy. What might it mean specifically in terms of hopeful strategies at the Wits Writing Centre (WWC)? This article seeks first to describe elements of cultural stasis within the greater institutionalised culture of teaching and learning through a short ethnographic description of cultural pattern, as modelled by Jones, Lea and Street (1998). Then, using Jansen's (2009) theorising of embedded knowledges in contemporary South African universities, it identifies types of knowledge present in this particular cultural pattern which repel change. The writing centre is understood through eco composition (De Wet 2011) as a small pocket within this macro environment which interacts with these often invisible and controlling knowledges present in the South African context. What can this pocket do to resist the overwhelming inertia of embedded knowledge and construct and maintain a space which allows for change? It will be argued that the primacy of the art of listening and the welcoming of opportunities for reflecting on dissonance, allows for the space of the writing centre to disrupt what Jansen (2009) terms 'knowledge in the blood'.
Inclusion, innovation and excellence : higher education in South Africa and its role in social development : Part 2 : HELTASA 2012 Special SectionAuthor C. SoudienSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 907 –922 (2014)More Less
How does the higher education sector in South Africa, located here at the edge of the African continent and surrounded by its almost unique complexities of time, space and sociality, work with and reconcile the demands for inclusion and excellence? How does it manage the extraordinarily difficult task of exploring, benefiting from and participating in the global knowledge revolution while simultaneously addressing the moral and practical questions of social inclusion? How does it manage to hold in sight and engage with the contradictory forces that arise out of globalisation and particularly the need to be located in the world and yet be relevant for the local? These issues lie at the heart of the challenge of thinking about the future of the South African university. They pose the question to the self-conscious South African university of how it wishes to imagine itself. Is its future to be like its North American and European counterparts, or does it have to create an autochthonous version of itself that is distinctly and uniquely African?
Secondary education influences on higher education performance : Part 2 : HELTASA 2012 Special SectionAuthor T.E. SommervilleSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 923 –939 (2014)More Less
This article reports on a mixed methods study that followed a cohort of students through an undergraduate medical programme. It investigated demographic variables (sex, age, race, language, finance, education level, high school and matric point score) as influences on students' assessment marks. The marks were analysed by means of the general linear method (GLM) for within-group differences, and by a generalised estimating equation (GEE) for overall significance. Most variables showed significantly different subgroups on the GLM analysis. However, only high school quintile, previous higher education, the assessments themselves and matric point scores showed overall significance on the GEE analysis. Semi-structured student and staff interviews explored the surprising influence of students' high schools on their assessment marks. The differences seen between students from schools in different quintiles may be attributable to the schools' financial resources. However, the author argues that Coleman's (1966) and Bernstein's (1971) observations of class differences are apposite, and that school quintile stands here as a surrogate for socioeconomic class.
Students' difficulty with proportional reasoning in a university quantitative literacy course : Part 2 : HELTASA 2012 Special SectionSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 28, pp 940 –960 (2014)More Less
The ability to reason about changes in quantities expressed in relative terms is essential for a critical awareness of data use in society. The authors regard this way of thinking, which they term 'proportional comparison', as a threshold concept (Meyer and Land 2003) for academic quantitative literacy. The extent and nature of students' difficulties with learning this concept in a quantitative literacy course for Law students were studied using a phenomenographic type of analysis of students' responses to four test questions, written at different times. Less than a quarter of the students could be said to have learned this concept at any time and improvements in students' ability to reason about relative differences were very slight. This supports the view that the learning of 'troublesome' (Meyer and Land 2003) quantitative literacy concepts takes a long time. Thus, it should be addressed in a sustained way, and integrated into students' programme of study.