Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL) - latest Issue
Volume 4, Issue 2, 2016
Source: Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL) 4, pp i –iv (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.14426/cristal.v4i2.92More Less
In this special issue we share insights into how academics understand and research literacy and language in the context of calls for social justice rather than (or as well as) through put and efficiency. This special issue comes about in the wake of a crucial moment in South African higher education, a moment of intense student led protest that has asked fundamental questions about what higher education is, who it is for, who it excludes. Not since the student led Soweto Uprising of 1976 have young people so insistently asked questions of the flawed educational inheritance that is coming their way. This questioning is not only taking place in South Africa but the local protests have an added urgency and meaning because of the historical context - a generation after apartheid, inequality is still sharply etched despite widening participation. Literacy and language are often implicated in this challenge to business-as-usual, raising questions about knowledge, pedagogy and taken-for-granted forms. It continues to be a crucial topic in this journal, and in critical approaches to teaching and learning in higher education, in South Africa in particular with its post-colonial context where English is in one way or another always a borrowed language, and writing in English carries with it profound dilemmas about identity and being.
Source: Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL) 4, pp 1 –9 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.14426/cristal.v4i2.80More Less
The literacy practices that are valued in the university emerge from specific disciplinary histories yet students are often expected to master these as if they were common sense and natural. This article argues that the autonomous model of literacy, which sees language use as the application of a set of neutral skills, continues to dominate in South African universities. This model denies the extent to which taking on disciplinary literacy practices can be difficult and have implications for identity. It also allows disciplinary norms to remain largely opaque and beyond critique. Furthermore, the autonomous model of literacy is often coupled with a discourse of the 'decontextualised learner' who is divorced from her social context, with higher education success seen to be resting largely upon attributes inherent in, or lacking from, the individual. Sadly, alternative critical social understandings have not been widely taken up despite their being well researched. Indeed, such understandings have often been misappropriated in ways that draw on critical social terminology to offer autonomous, decontextualised, remedial student interventions. We argue that these issues are implicated in students' accusations that universities are alienating spaces.
Translanguaging as an approach to address language inequality in South African higher education : summary writing skills developmentSource: Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL) 4, pp 10 –27 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.14426/cristal.v4i2.77More Less
Literacy challenges among the majority of African-language speaking students learning through the medium of English impact on unequal throughput in South African higher education. To address this social injustice issue, academic literacy practitioners have a critical role to play in the inclusion of linguistic diversity in higher education. This requires that the curriculum be revised in such a way that classroom activities and assessments give recognition to students' African languages. In this paper, we outline how translanguaging as a teaching and learning approach promises to develop literacy in both the students' African languages and English. The paper describes a summary skills development teaching approach and its accompanying activities which enable the students to move between isiZulu and English. The summary writing activities are followed by a guided reflection note from students on their perceptions and experiences of the new communicative approach that has been introduced to them. The majority of participants express positive perceptions of this approach as they find it familiar to what they are used to doing when learning on their own. It is hoped that the translanguaging approach would contribute to the promotion of equality in language and literacy development in the South African higher education sector.
Exploring pedagogical possibilities for transformative approaches to academic literacies in undergraduate PhysicsSource: Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL) 4, pp 28 –44 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.14426/cristal.v4i2.73More Less
How can research on academic literacies throw light on the challenge to widen access to undergraduate science studies? This article explores what an academic literacies approach might mean in the context of undergraduate physics. The study examines the pedagogical practices and student learning in two undergraduate Physics courses, a mainstream and an extended course, with a particular focus on the disciplinary practice of problem-solving. Concepts from the sociology of knowledge, specifically Legitimation Code Theory, offer a useful analytical framework for characterising the movement between abstract principles and concrete contexts in problem-solving and understanding how meaning is encapsulated in the dense representations of physics. The study shows that with more time and careful pedagogical attention, the extended course was able to make more explicit the literacy practices and epistemological functioning of the discipline. The study found that the extended course adopted a more explicitly normative approach to academic literacy, i.e., inducting students into the disciplinary knowledge and norms of the discipline, but elements of a transformative approach were also evident, i.e., opening up opportunities for these norms to be critiqued and contested.
Re-imagining mathematics and mathematics education for equity and social justice in the changing South African universityAuthor Kate Le RouxSource: Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL) 4, pp 45 –67 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.14426/cristal.v4i2.74More Less
Debates about transformation for a more equitable and socially just South African university and society more broadly have highlighted the need to consider how university curricula may (re)produce enduring historical and societal inequities. They also suggest the need to bring student voices into conversations about reimagining these curricula. There is a silence in these crucial debates about the role that the practices and language of mathematics and mathematics education may play in (re)producing or transforming inequities. This article proposes conceptual tools that help, firstly, to understand and to challenge this silence in the historical and socio-political context of the South African university. Secondly these tools can be used to re-imagine mathematics and mathematics education for equity and social justice in the changing South African university. These tools - a socio-political perspective and a framework of equity as access, achievement, identity and power are drawn mainly from the work of critical mathematics educators Rochelle Gutiérrez, Ole Skovsmose, Paola Valero and Renuka Vithal, and critical linguist Norman Fairclough. The proposed equity framework offers a way to work with the tension between providing access to and achievement in the dominant mathematics practices and critiquing and transforming these practices. To illustrate the potential of these tools I use the voices and actions of university students as represented in my research conducted at an elite English medium historically white university in South Africa.
Religion and literacies in higher education : scoping the possibilities for faith-based meaning makingSource: Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL) 4, pp 68 –87 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.14426/cristal.v4i2.76More Less
Academic literacies pursues a transformative agenda, which involves 'exploring alternative ways of meaning making in academia, not least by considering the resources that (student) writers bring to the academy as legitimate tools for meaning making' (Lillis and Scott, 2007: 13). How we select what the legitimate tools for meaning making are is assumed in these studies, but not established. Given the generally fraught status of religion in the academy, a perspicuous instance of this problem resides in the question of whether religious faith constitutes a 'legitimate tool for meaning making'. We therefore need to think about how we establish what can and cannot be said to be legitimate tools, and whether this should be decided as a matter of normative principle, or whether it can be arrived at empirically. Further, we would need to consider how such questions are to be properly incorporated into learning and assessment. This article uses qualitative data from studies into religion and higher education to provide some initial thoughts on how these questions could be addressed. It carries out a scoping exercise that sheds light on the possibilities of the employment of religious identity in academic writing. It concludes that religious ideas and identities may on occasion be relevant without implying a threat to disciplinary rigour.
Author Mary R. LeaSource: Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL) 4, pp 88 –101 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.14426/cristal.v4i2.91More Less
This paper argues that we need to reclaim the institutional perspective that was inherent in some of the early work in the field of academic literacies. It offers a brief overview of the emergence of the field and examines some key developments, including an examination of areas of tension with regard to the use of the term academic literacies. It also points to the ways in which the field is drawing in valuable and complementary theoretical and methodological frames, latterly with respect to significant developments in the digital landscape in higher education. The author concludes that academic literacies researchers have ongoing work to do with regard to the changing contexts of higher education and the need to push against the relentless redefinition of the university for its commercial and transfer value as opposed to its intellectual or critical value.
Working with academic literacies : case studies towards transformative practice, Lillis, T., Harrington, K., Lea, M.R. and Mitchell, S. (Eds.) : book reviewAuthor Mastin PrinslooSource: Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL) 4, pp 102 –104 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.14426/cristal.v4i2.83More Less
This collection of chapters by university-based academic literacies practitioners and theorists is a valuable and accessible contribution to the broad field that was more trivially and problematically known in earlier times as 'student/academic writing support'. The collection is a substantial one and marks out the space of a field of practice that claims recognition. Over 31 chapters academic literacies practitioners describe, reflect on and theorise their experiences of working with students and academics on questions of writing and research in as well as across disciplinary and institutional frames. The chapters are consistently clearly written and well-focused on particular sites of practice, and the theoretical work done is mutually supportive across chapters. Loosely organised into four sections, each with a short introduction, the collection also includes a further six chapters, called Reflections. These are more general pieces than the other chapters, some of them dialogues between noted scholars, each of them thoughtful and interesting explorations of important issues in the development of academic literacies as a field of practice and of current pressing concerns in the field. Spread throughout the book, they enhance and complement the more site-based, practitioner-driven focus of the other chapters.
Detox your writing : Strategies for doctoral researchers, Thomson, P. and Kamler, B. (Eds.) : book reviewAuthor Puleng MotshoaneSource: Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL) 4, pp 105 –107 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.14426/cristal.v4i2.79More Less
There is a need to increase the number of doctoral graduates both in South Africa and internationally (EUA, 2010; CHE and Crest, 2009; NRF, 2008; ASSAf, 2010), but the difficulty with writing holds many researchers back, thus delaying time to completion. The authors of this book have a fine grasp of what doctoral writing entails and give a practical account of how many challenges regarding doctoral writing can be overcome. They refer to the doctoral candidate as the doctoral researcher (DR) and I also use that through this review to refer to doctoral researchers.
Posthumanism and the Massive Open Online Course : Contaminating the Subject of Global Education, Knox, J. (Ed.) : book reviewAuthor Siddique MotalaSource: Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL) 4, pp 108 –110 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.14426/cristal.v4i2.82More Less
Jeremy Knox's book analyses the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) through the lens of critical posthumanism. Faithful to the posthumanist cartographic methodology expounded on most notably by Rosi Braidotti, Knox acknowledges that this is not an authoritative account of the development of the MOOC, but rather traces some of the dominant accounts and myths of its development. He also does not aim to give a detailed overview of what the MOOC is, but rather focuses on those aspects that relate to the subjectivity of the MOOC user. As an analytical tool or 'genealogical and a navigational tool' as Braidotti (2013: 5) puts it, posthumanism does not steer away from complexity, rather, it is a philosophy that eschews the bite-sized or absolute descriptions of phenomena that are so prevalent in the media today. The task of the critical theorist, according to Braidotti (2013) is to firstly account for the present. Once this is achieved, the critique can then be transformed into affirmative creation. Knox's book provides a substantial critique of the MOOC, and he does provide food for thought towards affirmative transformation.