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- Volume 29, Issue 4, 2015
South African Journal of Higher Education - Volume 29, Issue 4, 2015
Volumes & issues
Volume 29, Issue 4, 2015
The ambivalence of modern technology and the 'digital divide' : gathering and scattering of sociality and sociability in the global network society : leading articleAuthor L.L. ThaverSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 1 –13 (2015)More Less
This article takes up Heidegger's (1977) concern that modern technology holds both a danger and a saving grace for society. Society as such is in the grip of a technological instrumentality with its attendant 'will to power' that paradoxically threatens to disrupt our humanity and sociality; while, simultaneously, offering us a saving grace in equipmentality (Dreyfus 1991, 1992; Heidegger 1962; Verbeek 2005) from within the frenzy of technological activity. This contention is taken up by engaging Castells' (2001) theoretical substantiation of the network society, in the Information and Internet Age, with a view to tracking into specific transformational dynamics of the new modalities of the social, economic, technological and global. The aim of the article is to consider how the Internet-based transformations offer themselves up as nodal points that gather people's sociality and sociability in the 'virtual' world. And by contrast consider how the latter dimensions of social being as predicated upon individualism are scattered throughout the labyrinthine 'cyber world'. Thus, the article seeks to think through how both moments of gathering and scattering are recast in the new global informational-intellectual division of labour as mirrored in the 'Digital Divide'. The author closes by reflecting on South Africa, as engaged in this Internet-based new global network, and considers the incorporation of developing countries into the new global order, as a function of new social inequalities and subject positions that are emergent and made manifest, in one of its forms, as 'scatterlings' of the Digital Divide.
'They can't even agree!' : students' conversations about their supervisors in constructing understandings of the doctorateSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 14 –34 (2015)More Less
This article examines conversations among doctoral students about their supervision experiences. It is a foray into their spare time, when they reflect through conversations, on encounters with their supervisors. While these conversations are usually stimulated by gossip around lifestyles, entertainment and frustration, they represent useful generative spaces for negotiating meaning around the complexities of doctoral supervision. The authors argue that, if students' conversations are stimulated as critical spaces for engagement, where shared meaning about supervision experiences is discussed, they can promote effective student/supervisor interaction and enhance learning. This is to generate a debate that can turn student contestation over doctoral supervision into a generative and productive mechanism for understanding the nature of such supervision. The data was collected using ethnographic strategies in the form of notes recorded by students at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and University of Johannesburg (UJ), both in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Writing-to-learn in a higher education writing intensive tutorial programme : student collaboration and confidence buildingSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 35 –49 (2015)More Less
This article emanates from a study which focussed on Managerial Accounting and Financial Management (MAFM) students' experiences of learning in a Writing Intensive Tutorial (WIT) programme. Higher education students often do not either appreciate or realise the benefits of working collaboratively with other students. The WIT programme is based on the principles of collaborative participation among the students and writing-to-learn. Interactive Qualitative Analysis (IQA) (Northcutt and McCoy 2004) informed the research design and data analysis. Following IQA protocols, nine affinities (themes) were generated to describe students' experiences of learning in the WIT programme. The article reports on the affinities personal confidence and interaction. The findings suggested that collaborative engagement in writing to learn activities, designed according to tight specifications, facilitates a process of focussed and directed interaction among students. This has important implications for higher education programme design especially in professional programmes where the requirements of the profession include personal confidence and interaction.
Dispelling e-myths and pre-empting disappointment : exploring incongruities between instructors' intentions and reality in asynchronous online discussionsSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 50 –76 (2015)More Less
Provided that effective practices in online instructional design are met and e-myths regarding online learning are contested, asynchronous online discussions (AODs) may promote productive interaction, reflecting knowledge sharing, knowledge construction, and knowledge creation or hybrids of these discourses. Within a naturalistic higher education setting, the authors revisited lingual data analysed in a previous study, employing Booth and Hultén's (2003) taxonomy of pivotal contributions to online discussions to describe students' 'talk' during text-based AODs. The taxonomy constituted a more comprehensive model of productive online discussion than that used in the earlier study. Contrary to the authors' initial assumptions as novice e-instructors that students would not only share knowledge, but also co-construct knowledge, there was little evidence of the latter. In terms of Booth and Hultén's (2003) analytic framework, functional moves were predominantly factual, while reflective contributions were uncommon. In other words, knowledge-sharing discourse rather than knowledge-construction discourse was the norm. In addition, participatory contributions were rare. The findings indicated that there was a mismatch between the authors' expectations about students' levels of cognitive engagement during their discussions and the instructional design. Thus, the authors interrogate their assumptions and identify design considerations that should underpin online pedagogy as it pertains to meaningful online discussion.
International students in the South African higher education system : a review of pressing challengesSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 77 –95 (2015)More Less
The internationalisation of the South African higher education (HE) system, has involved (among other developments) the steady increase of international student enrolment, particularly from other African nations. While there has been a considerable increase in the percentage of international students over the past few decades, little is known about the challenges they confront and the ways in which socio-political and economic issues facing South Africa and the HE system may impact them. This article focuses on significant features of the South African HE system and considers some of the theoretical challenges faced by international students within this context. Pressing socio-political and economic issues facing South African HE specifically, and the nation more generally, are highlighted and in turn their relevance for challenges faced by international students relating to xenophobia, discrimination and financial difficulties are addressed.
Empowered empathetic encounters : building international collaborations through researching writing in the context of South African higher education and beyondSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 96 –113 (2015)More Less
In this article, the authors propose the idea of 'empowered empathetic encounters' as a key success factor in the building of effective international inter-institutional collaboration. By empowered empathetic encounters the authors mean those supported pivotal occasions where researchers meet with colleagues with whom they wish to collaborate in face-to-face settings in order to try to understand, in a meaningful way, each other's concerns and what it means to live and work in each other's contexts. In their work, the authors combine their personal and collective experiences with an analysis of these in the context of the existing literature. In this way, they wish to engage in a process of 'thinking the cultural through the self' (Probyn 1993) and 'thinking theory through' researchers' own experiences (Mann 2008, 10 - emphasis in original). They further suggest that engaged encounters of this nature can provide the bedrock for successful, long-term collaboration.
Organisational climate : conceptualisation and measurement in an open and distance learning higher education institutionSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 114 –134 (2015)More Less
Higher education institutions (HEIs) need to improve their work environment continuously in order to promote learning. One of the important aspects of sustainability, identified through research, is a healthy organisational climate. The first objective of the current study was to conceptualise organisational climate within an HEI and specifically one in an open and distance learning (ODL) environment. The conceptualisation was done by constructing an organisational climate questionnaire standardised for the ODL HEI. The second objective was to determine the psychometric properties of the newly constructed organisational climate questionnaire. A survey design was followed by using a questionnaire, consisting of an item pool of 90 questions, which was administered to 2 086 personnel members of an ODL HEI. Six factors, with acceptable psychometric properties were extracted using the factor analysis method. These factors were labelled leadership, my manager, organisational citizenship, compensation, interpersonal relationships and clients, capacity and values.
Project-based learning in higher education : exploring programming students' development towards self-directednessAuthor H.M. HavengaSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 135 –157 (2015)More Less
The purpose of the research reported in this article was to explore whether the application of project-based learning (PBL) in higher education could develop programming students' self-directedness. This research was based on social constructivism and emphasised the construction of knowledge in which students were collaboratively involved. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were employed. The participants in the research were 89 second-year Bachelor of Science (BSc) students majoring in Computer Science/Information Technology. The students worked together in teams of two to develop a programming project. Data collection involved questionnaires, development of a project and a manual as well as various narrative reflections. The findings indicated that participants' application of PBL may contribute to the development of their self-directedness.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 158 –178 (2015)More Less
The literature on critical pedagogy is awash, on the one hand, with notions of emancipatory pedagogy that liberate students and teachers from the snares of capitalist ideological hegemony. On the other hand, claims abound about the declining fortunes of critical pedagogy, as it has struggled to find credibility, coherence and legibility. This article delves into critical pedagogy and its implications for education in a state of advanced capitalism, as well as its attendant functionalist thinking. Practically, this means that, via theoretical analysis, critical pedagogy is scrutinised in relation to student/teacher agency and resistance; whether critical pedagogy stands in defence of 'strong democracy'; the historical relevance of the theoretical genesis of critical pedagogy; whether critical pedagogy is effective as ideology critique; whether critical pedagogy is muscular enough as a counter-hegemonic practice; how critical pedagogy parades itself in practical situations; and whether critical pedagogy is able to conscientise students to asymmetrical power relations.
Author S.B. KhozaSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 179 –197 (2015)More Less
This article presents a case study of 22 postgraduate university students who specialised in Curriculum Studies. The students' project analyses, one-on-one semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were used for data generation/production. The study concluded that student teachers were not aware of the theories that underpin the South African Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) of their subjects. As a result of not understanding the theories that shape their learning, they decided to continue with the way they had been working throughout their years of teaching. This suggests that they are teaching without prioritising the implementation of their subjects' CAPS. Purposive and convenience samplings were used in selecting the most accessible 22 students. The article consequently recommends the identification of the theories that underpin CAPS and the curriculum type before implementation in order for teachers to understand the implementation process.
Author D.M. LaytonSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 198 –210 (2015)More Less
A worrying trend in South Africa has been the high attrition rate for first-time university students. At the University of Johannesburg (UJ), one intervention used to address this low throughput rate is the tutorial system. While it is important to broaden formal access to universities, it is also crucial to provide first-year students with access to the epistemologies of their discipline to ensure their academic success. This can potentially be enabled through the tutorial system. While tutorials are growing in size due to increased numbers, the tutorial still has a role to play in giving students the opportunity to engage with each other and their tutor in a smaller group than that of the lecture. For the tutorial system to enable students' academic success, however, tutors need to support their students not only in their acquisition of the target epistemologies, but also to take cognisance of their students' ontological needs.
Exploring an analytical framework for a discursive construction of teaching and learning : the case of academic literacy in an engineering facultySource: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 211 –227 (2015)More Less
Drawing from the construct of legitimate peripheral participation (LPP) (Lave and Wenger 1991) and Gee's (1996) trope of d/Discourses, concepts which locate learning in the socio-cultural interactions and co-participation between students and the more experienced people in disciplinary knowledge, this article explores the dominant representations of academic literacy and of students in an engineering faculty. These representations were examined through the eyes of 24 engineering students, two engineering academics and 11 language tutors teaching a Technical Communication for Engineers course. Emerging representations are highlighted and these point to disjunctures between engineering students' understanding of the role of academic literacy, language tutors' conceptions of their role in the development of academic literacy and engineering academics' understanding of the epistemic relation between academic literacy and engineering practice. While these representations are not necessarily negative, some discourses that arise can potentially exclude social agents (both students and academics) from effectively participating in the teaching and/or acquisition of academic literacy.
'Pink collar' medicine : medical students navigating the gendered landscape of a South African medical schoolSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 228 –242 (2015)More Less
Gendered work experiences have influenced decisions which determine career trajectories in professions in general and in the medical profession in particular. This article reports on a study which aimed to bring to the centre the voices of medical students at a higher education institution (HEI), in order to gain a more nuanced view of intersecting influences of gendered factors on their undergraduate experiences in clinical training settings. Ninety-four students who were in their final year of study at a South African medical school were purposively selected. In this inductive, qualitative approach, semi-structured, individual, face-to-face interviews were used to generate data. The recurring themes included as findings indicated students' anxiety about safety; details of their interactions with teaching personnel and patients; and their anxiety to find a balance between responsibilities related to their work and family commitments. Recommendations include practical solutions, such as the allocation of increased funding for the assurance of female students' safety, and the monitoring of defaulters who are guilty of gender-based discrimination in clinical settings.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 243 –259 (2015)More Less
Bridging the literatures of human capabilities and sustainable assessment for lifelong learning, this article explores the extent to which assessment practices can contribute to student learning and foster key capabilities for inclusive and sustainable lifelong learning. Social justice is understood here as expanding both student opportunities for individual well-being, but also the formation of agency commitments to advance the common good. The article therefore expands on a sustainable assessment approach to encompass preparing students for a fuller range of meaningful educational and social development goals. The article draws on illustrative empirical data from the United Kingdom (UK) and then makes the case for the potential of a capabilities-friendly approach to assessment to support the quality of learning in South African universities as a matter of urgency in the light of the current shockingly poor undergraduate completion rates.
Author S. SchulzeSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 260 –276 (2015)More Less
This longitudinal study explored the professional academic identity development of female academics before and after obtaining their doctoral degrees. The aim was to identify areas to target in order to support the development of the academics' robust professional identities. Using a narrative research approach, two female academics were interviewed repeatedly over a period of three and a half years, complemented by e-mail conversations. Symbolic interactionism and self-efficacy theory were utilised as lenses to interpret the data. The research offered three key findings. It revealed that obtaining a doctoral degree does not automatically develop the desired professional identity. The study further identified five areas to target when supporting female academics in their identity development. Self-efficacy permeated all five areas.
Beyond exceptionalism : Neville Alexander's ideas on 'nation', 'race' and class for reimagining the transformation of the university, in an 'ordinary' South AfricaSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 277 –295 (2015)More Less
The questions that Neville Alexander raises in his three texts (1979, 2002 and 2013) are issues with which academics wrestle in the university in different forms. These questions have a direct bearing on the social practices that unfold in pursuit of the consolidation and expansion of a new democratic order. The perspective in this article is that of the university, in that it attempts to think through the sensitive matter of the relationship between academic autonomy, institutional imperatives and the national project. With this in mind the authors set out to present Alexander's thoughts on questions relating to the political (i.e., the 'national question'); economic (i.e., affirmative action and practices of embourgeoisement); and the socio-cultural (the racial habitus which includes reference to a new historical community). Each of the aforementioned informs the way in which the university is positioned as an institutional site in light of Alexander's approach to the 'national question' in South Africa. This means that the authors take up the university's role in society, raising the matter of its identity, the form it may take and how the university contributes to what they refer to as a 'nation-in-becoming'.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 29, pp 296 –314 (2015)More Less
This article presents the results from research on community-engaged curricula using feedback from international and South African academics who teach on postgraduate programmes with a community engagement component. It also includes the findings from a sample master's programme in Play Therapy at a South African university. The findings indicated that at least five important issues are related to community-engaged master's programmes in Play Therapy, namely: programme relevance, integrated scholarship, community-based research, reciprocal learning, and close academic staff involvement. Based on these findings a curriculum framework is suggested which caters for an integrated scholarship approach in master's programmes in Play Therapy that closely engage with community needs. Such a framework may relate to similar or other professional master's programme curricula.