n South African Journal of Higher Education - Making the invisible visible : portfolios and prior knowledge in higher education : the practice of higher education

Volume 18, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This article explores the potential of the portfolio process as pedagogy for adult students to recast themselves as producers of knowledge rather than mere conduits for reproducing dominant epistemologies within higher education in South Africa. The exploration has a purchase wherever universities admit students with prior knowledge and where such knowledge is contested and in some instances subjugated. It explores taken for granted approaches to knowledge, teaching and assessing and argues that portfolio courses have much to offer RPL students in South Africa. The emphasis, in this pedagogy, on individual well-being and respect for experience through education, is a significant change for students who were the recipients of a system of education under apartheid, which undermined learners' sense of self-worth and well-being. In this sense the portfolio may give back to learners what was taken away under apartheid, contributing to what Visvanathan calls 'cognitive justice' (Odora Hoppers 2001, 8).

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