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- Volume 30, Issue 1, 2016
South African Journal of Higher Education - Volume 30, Issue 1, 2016
Volumes & issues
Volume 30, Issue 1, 2016
Gender equity tensions in South Africa's post-apartheid higher education : in defence of differentiationSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 30, pp 1 –16 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.20853/30-1-557More Less
This article presents a theoretical and thematic exploration of gender equity in post-apartheid South African higher education. The article argues that while South African women played a very important role in the struggle for political liberation, the current situation in South Africa's political, economic and education institutions seems to suggest that the effort they put in the struggle does not commensurate the gains thereafter. A majority of South Africa's girls and women still struggle to access quality education and excel at most levels, which is a direct contravention of the constitutional guarantee of equality for all who live in this great nation. Although the gender equity paradigm in South African higher education can be credited as having recorded some formidable achievements in terms of increased enrolment for female students especially Black women in higher education, a deliberate effort has to be made to shift attention from aggregations to impediments in order for the promise of equality and equity to be realized for those who experienced most barriers in accessing higher education. In the current South African context, one needs to deal with disadvantages that are perpetuated through the socio-economic positioning of families, the inability to use the language of power, content complexity, embedded institutional cultures and practices, among others.
A conceptual framework for understanding pre-entry factors influencing first-year university experience : leading articleSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 30, pp 1 –21 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.20853/30-1-548More Less
Student cohorts entering universities in South Africa have become more diverse; making the first-year experience more complex to understand. In order to address these challenges, a conceptual framework that accounts for the situated circumstances of the diverse students entering higher education is explored. The conceptual framework integrates key concepts from Bourdieu's (1984; 1990) conceptual tools and Tinto's (1975; 1993) student integration model. The framework facilitates in-depth understanding of pre-entry factors influencing first-year experience. To test the efficacy of the conceptual model, an analysis of one student's negotiations through her first-year university experience is reported. This article highlights the utility of this framework, identifying the manner in which pre-entry factors from the participant's situated context assisted in explaining how habitus shaped her first-year experience and academic performance. The themes identified: determination, motivation and self-resilience, helped understand why this participant made decisions that influenced her social and academic integration at university. Study outcomes suggest some initial insights and a starting point to influence actions that might improve university transition and integration of students from relatively disadvantaged backgrounds.
Facilitating critical enquiry about race and racism in a digital environment : design considerationsSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 30, pp 17 –41 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.20853/30-1-550More Less
Increasingly, instructors working in higher education settings are exploiting asynchronous online forums to facilitate difficult dialogues on social issues such as sexuality, race, and diversity. We interrogate the task design we employed to construct a digital space in which undergraduate English Studies students could discuss race and racism in the context of a study of contemporary understandings and manifestations of race. Within the realm of computer-mediated discourse analysis, we employed Booth and Hultén's (2003) taxonomy of key contributions to meaningful online discussion to determine if students' posts displayed not only knowledge-sharing discourse, but also knowledge-construction and knowledge-creation discourses. We discovered that although students co-constructed knowledge and, in some instances, created new artefacts, they mainly shared and compared ideas. We therefore consider how our task design should be altered to foster critical enquiry. Although not our main focus, we also take into account phenomena our data analysis revealed that cannot be overlooked when it comes to online discussions of contentious issues. These phenomena include emotional responses to racism and micro-aggressions. We adopt the view that these elements are an unavoidable part of a difficult dialogue, and that facilitators need to prepare their students to converse in uncomfortable spaces.
Author B. CampbellSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 30, pp 42 –56 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.20853/30-1-556More Less
In the English discipline within the university where I am a teacher educator of English, I am in the habit of keeping a reflective journal in which I record my observations of my pedagogic practice. In addition, I require that students write post-lecture evaluations on completion of a series of lectures. This autoethnographic self-study examines a collaborative exercise in which the students and I jointly analysed student evaluations as well as my lecture reflections in order to establish the efficacy of a series of poetry lectures and to recommend where I can improve in my practice. Pre-service teacher educators should model good teaching practices and I have always held the belief that my teaching methodology is constructivist and that in the process I am being reflexive and modeling good practice. However, the intended message is not always that which is received in the way anticipated by the lecturer which is what precipitated this study. Whilst reflective practice has been beneficial in my development as a lecturer, I suspected that working collaboratively with the students, in analysing their post-lecture evaluations and my reflections would be of benefit to both parties. This autoethnographic self-study highlights the importance of analyzing lecture reflections along with student evaluations, and with the students themselves and reports on how, when implemented, the suggested changes improved pedagogic practice.
Exploration of supervisor and student experiences during master's studies in a Health Science FacultySource: South African Journal of Higher Education 30, pp 57 –79 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.20853/30-1-559More Less
Significant growth in postgraduate student numbers with seemingly little change in staff composition and supervision capacity have prompted the need for research into the experiences of supervisors in a diverse interdisciplinary health sciences department. This article contends that supervision strategies form an important facet of institutional knowledge sharing in an interdisciplinary context especially in developing the capacity of postgraduate students to apply competencies later within the macro society in a sustainable manner. The article addresses one of the research questions of a larger study: What are the experiences of supervisors during the supervisory process of master's students in a Health Science Faculty? Supervisors were of the view that they were committed to their supervision duties. Their multiple roles meant that they had to be encouraging, understanding, empathetic, set boundaries, be supportive while they act as guides and mentors who are expected to provide timeous and continuing feedback. To provide a comprehensive appreciation of the study, the article also presents significant findings from the qualitative component pertaining to student-views of the supervision process. Recommendations relate to the workload of supervisors, faculty development and greater access to resources including funding that would generally influence postgraduate supervision.
Academic citizenship and wellbeing : an exploratory cross-cultural study of South African and Swedish academic perceptionsSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 30, pp 80 –105 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.20853/30-1-555More Less
Academic citizenship is, conceptually speaking, closely related to organisational citizenship behaviour, as both concepts can be regarded as consisting essentially of personal co-worker and organisational support behaviours. Academics across the world operate in widely divergent settings in different socioeconomic and political situations and higher education environments. Such differing circumstances might be expected to have a bearing on the priorities that academics face in different countries and the ways academic citizenship is understood. This article uses a mixed methods approach to analyse perceptions of academic citizenship and employee well-being in one Swedish and one South African university which operate in starkly different socioeconomic circumstances. The findings of the exploratory study suggest that despite wide-ranging differences in socioeconomic environments between the two countries, there is a high degree of common understanding of the form and substance of academic citizenship and its bearing on well-being.
Author M.N. DavidsSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 30, pp 106 –122 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.20853/30-1-549More Less
Work-integrated learning (WIL) provides a framework for pre-service student teachers to prepare for professional practice. According to the Department of Higher Education's policy on the Minimum requirements for Teacher Education Qualification (2011), student teachers are to acquire tacit knowledge and skills which are essential components of learning to teach. Practical learning is a form of learning 'in and from' practice. Microteaching is often adopted as a strategy to initiate pre-service students into the practical world of teaching. Learning 'in practice' involves teaching in authentic and simulated environments. Informed by the research question: 'what are first-year students learning experiences in a microteaching programme?', this article evaluates pre-service students' experiences of a microteaching programme. First year students' evaluation forms, document analysis and participant observation were used to provide data for this study. Student evaluation forms were analysed and coded on the basis of common usage of expressions, phrases and ideas. Patterns of meaning were identified and extracted from the data. Goffman's notion of 'frames' was used as analytical lens to illuminate student involvement. This article argues that multiple interactive frames that operate during microteaching often let the student diminish as main focus which compromises the objective of microteaching: to provide pre-service students learning opportunities in a simulated and unthreatening environment. Despite the lack of explicit objectives and contradictory student experiences, this article further argues that microteaching presents students with numerous opportunities for learning. Given the close link between microteaching and the all-pervasive 21st century technological teaching environment, microteaching is poised for a new wave of popularity. To achieve the objectives of a microteaching programme, it should intractably be student-centered. The student should be maintained as main focus and beneficiary. To this end, recommendations are made.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 30, pp 123 –137 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.20853/30-1-554More Less
Nowadays, its seems as if higher education institutions have unobtrusively adopted leadership styles that seem to be in consonance with neoliberal, managerialist approaches to leadership in education. It has become apparent that, to lead, one has to occupy particular authoritative positions. Yet following such an account of leadership, institutional practices become more attuned to leadership styles in which it is erroneously assumed that people need to be told what to do and how they need to do it in order to meet the demands of the neoliberal and managerialism associated with the attainment of high levels of productivity within the institutions. Unfortunately, as we shall argue, such leadership approaches militate against the very idea of education and its intertwined practices. Consequently, we advocate a position of leadership in education that enhances the doing of action that opens up that to which Agamben (1999) refers to as 'rhythm'. Education, we argue, has a better chance of being realised and sustained if institutions attune their practices towards an opening of rhythm - one that departs from an instrumentalist, leadership-by-position towards leadership that embraces rhythmic action.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 30, pp 138 –161 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.20853/30-1-552More Less
It is important for higher education educators to understand the quantitative literacy (QL) competencies of incoming students, in order to make appropriate assumptions about prior knowledge and to design suitable curricula. In this article we analyse the results of a National Benchmark Tests project's (NBTP) QL test written by a large cohort of prospective applicants to higher education, in order to contribute to this understanding. A large proportion of these candidates were unable to cope with quantitative literacy demands of the kinds commonly encountered in higher education. More than half of candidates need some kind of supplementary QL support and at least 30 per cent require extensive support. Candidates' performance on subgroups of the QL test items and on individual items provides further insights into particular strengths and weaknesses. The results highlight that opportunities for the development of QL competencies should be found and these should be integrated into disciplinary teaching.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 30, pp 162 –187 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.20853/30-1-558More Less
The conditions under which universities are attempting to coherently accomplish their three missions of teaching and learning, research and community engagement have a significant impact on the institutional form, structure and character of universities.
The concept of the developmental state, the role and place for the Higher Education sector in the developmental state and its role in supporting political, social and economic transformation is explored. In this article we attempt to further develop a conceptual framework for the development(al) university considering the context, drivers of focus, and changes in control, governance and university functions to the end of defining a potential development pathway. The research problem addressed in this article is therefore not an attempt to extend the 'research university' or 'entrepreneurial university' concept but to rather discuss the pathways through which a university may strengthen its development role as 'instrument' or 'engine'.
The empirical analysis presented in the article is a case study of an agricultural development project at the University of Fort Hare in South Africa. We analyse the case study against the development pathway framework and explore its utility to facilitate understanding and learning within the University towards reaching development and transformation objectives. We propose that such a framework could support understanding of the impact universities have on the economy and society beyond typical mechanistic measures.
Author L. HewlettSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 30, pp 188 –205 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.20853/30-1-551More Less
Interdisciplinarity is widely claimed as a core feature of, and rationale for, the development of postgraduate programmes in applied disciplinary fields. While there is considerable debate about the nature of interdisciplinarity, less consideration is given to the concept of curriculum and what 'being interdisciplinary' implies for the selection and organisation of knowledge in a curriculum aspiring to some level of interdisciplinarity. Drawing on sociological analyses of curriculum this article explores Bernstein's concepts of integrated-type curricula and recontextualisation and uses these concepts to explore the complexities of attempting to use interdisciplinarity as an integrating logic in a Public Management curriculum. Findings from the analysis of documentary and interview data highlight how interdisciplinarity was difficult to develop and sustain as a curriculum integrating logic over time. Without a strong consensus about the integrating interdisciplinary idea and the knowledge that underpinned it, relationships between the relational idea and curriculum content became increasingly implicit, individually interpreted and disabling for a shared sense of purpose and progression across the degree. Development of programmes that call themselves interdisciplinary requires an understanding of curriculum as selection and organisation of knowledge from within disciplines and, in the case of applied disciplinary fields, from workplace practice.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 30, pp 206 –223 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.20853/30-1-560More Less
Optometry globally has undergone major developments yet poor eye health statistics remain. The World Health Organization (WHO) cites social accountability as key to addressing health challenges, urging the education sector to be more socially accountable and train according to the needs of society. A qualitative, descriptive study was used to determine the integration of social accountability within optometric education in sub-Saharan Africa. Eleven academic leaders and two student groups participated in key stakeholder interviews and focus group discussions respectively. Data was thematically analysed using interpretive content analysis. The study found that social accountability policies or practices were not formally integrated across any academic area in the represented optometry education programmes. Optometric education needs to embrace and implement social accountability at country, regional and global levels. The World Council for Optometry is urged to provide leadership in this process by developing a Global Framework for Social Accountability in Optometric Education to guide regions and countries towards the adoption of social accountability.
'Sink or swim?' : learning from stories of becoming academics within a transforming university terrainSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 30, pp 224 –244 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.20853/30-1-561More Less
The meanings connected with becoming or being an academic are constantly shifting, on account of diverse forces that act on universities. In this article, we portray our learning as a research team of four academics (including one early-career academic) and a doctoral student who took a narrative inquiry approach to listening and responding to our early-career colleagues' stories of becoming and being academics within a transforming university landscape. Imaginative engagement with these stories through the evocative and reflexive medium of poetry awakened possibilities for navigating the uncertain terrain of academia. The article draws attention to collegial relationships as critical to the growth of self-belief and self-resourcefulness in becoming and being academics. It demonstrates how, through collective participation, novice and experienced academics can become valuable sources of learning and support for each other.
Author D. ScholtzSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 30, pp 245 –264 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.20853/30-1-553More Less
The unprecedented scale of curriculum development in response to national imperatives has prompted questions on curriculum approaches and strategies. The focus of this article is on how four departments conceived assessment during the recurriculation of diploma qualifications. The findings suggest that assessment is approached from a technicist perspective and compliance with principles of good assessment practice. In response to the findings, the purpose and structure of an assessment strategy as an over-arching mechanism to inform and guide assessment practices at programme level are explored. It is argued that a collaborative, programme-specific assessment strategy creates an opportunity for synergy to achieve the purpose of the qualification and for holistic graduate development.
Examining digital technology for (higher) education through action research and critical discourse analysisSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 30, pp 265 –284 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.20853/30-1-562More Less
The public understanding of scientific, economic, political and ethical issues is becoming increasingly important as students are confronted with socio-economic issues impacting their everyday lives. Grappling with these issues requires critical, deliberative and autonomous students. According to Wankle (2011, 7), the use of digital technology in education may serve as a catalyst for cultivating excitement, interaction and sharing in students. In this article, the authors, using two distinct research methodologies, argue that using Facebook as a digital technological methodology in (higher) education could provide a means of mediating and communicating in today's modern society, so that (higher) educationists can engage with students both deliberatively and critically so as to enhance students' understanding of current economic, political and cultural issues autonomously. The authors posit that the application of digital technology can be implemented successfully if students and (higher) educationists possess the capabilities to do so.