The presentations below include short and long, formal and informal. The list is in alphabetical order by title to align with the programme.
Building capacity for change: a partnership between UCT and the local minibus-taxi industry
Schalekamp, Herrie; Gwynne-Evans, Alison
Universities in South Africa are challenged to play a role in national development and social transformation. One of the ways of measuring the effectiveness of the response to this policy challenge has been to analyse the profile of student enrolments in under- and post-graduate courses. Another way to achieve this goal is through engaged scholarship, where the university extends its reach beyond the traditional student cohort and realigns its teaching and learning with an audience previously outside of universities’ reach. Engaged scholarship emphasises the importance of the learning taking place both ways: from the university into the community and also from the community into the university. Engagement with new cohorts thus strengthens the university’s ability to impact the wider society. This in turn builds stronger relationships with new cohorts.
One such case has been a three-year partnership between the UCT Centre for Transport Studies (CfTS), the MyCiTi N2 Express bus operating entity, and the City of Cape Town. At the core of the partnership was the N2 Express Capacity Building Programme – an adult education programme in transport planning, business management and professional communications for a group of people representing minibus-taxi associations based in Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha. CfTS convened and presented the programme, which comprised 14 modules running for 26 weeks during 2015-2017. It was funded by the City of Cape Town as part of its public transport reform process, and the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment’s Continuing Professional Development unit provided support and accreditation.
The programme modules were developed in a way that geared teaching and learning specifically towards the needs of the players in the minibus-taxi industry, and the challenges and opportunities that they faced in a changing public transport landscape. The programme involved developing resources and strategies with specific application to a particular student cohort and their business and personal contexts. Experts from different industries were invited to present material in a way that invited students to engage in debate and critically consider their existing relationships and practices in a complex and conflict-ridden day-to-day environment.
Students learned through engagement with the process to value their own contribution and agency and to be more confident in their engagement with other stakeholders, knowing their own strengths and capacity. The learning began to be about participants seeing themselves as part of the resources that are available to negotiate challenges, and in their recognising themselves as being on a path towards growth and opportunity rather than being static entities with limited options. Particularly important aspects from the university’s point of view included: seeing the parallel importance of developing a vocabulary around values and the valuing of the person within their community; providing students with opportunities to develop specific skills sets relevant to their business context; and the emergence of trusting relationships between CfTS academics and the student cohort that have opened up new avenues for scholarly research and constructive interaction beyond the programme setting.
Keywords: Engaged scholarship; Capacity building; Adult education
Care and discomfort in transformational working with new academics in a South African university
Formal presentation 20+10min
The staff development programme for new academics at UCT, like similar programmes elsewhere in the world, focuses on issues of transitioning into an academic career and provides resources and skills to develop as educators and researchers. The programme also supports new academics in engaging the challenges of transforming the South African higher education environment.
This paper reports on the analysis of data from interviews with key educational developers, conducted over a period of ten years. The analysis focused on notions of care surface in talking about the experience of programme and curriculum design. The interviewees reported that the unintended consequences of provoking conversations about diverse experiences of access, equity and institutional culture had implications for the safe space they wished to create on the programme. This paper argues that in the pursuit of meeting transformation goals, educational developers need to take care to address the potential consequences of evoking discomfort.
new academics; transforming; discomfort
Designing Formative Assessment for a blended, block-release course
Formal presentation - 10+5min
Pallitt, Nicola; Govender, Shanali; Hodgkinson-Williams, Cheryl
The course in which this research is sited, is part of a blended, block release Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Technology, and attempts to induct a diverse group of students from across Africa into the learning design profession through teaching material, skills, attitudes and values. While these would historically have been learned over time through hands-on practice with a practicing learning designer, this course is structured around an intensive, face-to-face contact week followed by online engagement with peers and lecturers, and assessment. A key challenge was how to develop relationships with our design groups that mimicked the apprenticeship-type model found in face-to-face, on-the-job learning while working at a distance under access constrained conditions. One of our strategies in support of this goal was to offer asynchronous, vocal formative feedback on student assignments.
Various data were sought for analysis including: Lecturers’ verbal feedback to 20 students using Vocaroo; written comments; various narrated powerpoints offering general feedback; a student survey, student interview data, and staff reflections via reflection essays and conversations.This data was captured, transcribed, and analysed for structural, linguistic and vocal factors contributing to relationship building, drawing conceptually on notions of rapport, affinity and politeness to understand attempts at strengthening connection.
Findings suggest that voice comments allow lecturer assessors to enact a broader range of interpersonal relationships with students. While communicating with students using voice comments does not remove the asymmetry of the pedagogic relationships, it modeled designerly ways of thinking and students reported feeling more connected to their lecturers.
assessment feedback; formative assessment; multimodal feedback
Engaging the social: Community engaged pedagogy for new professionals/engineers
Formal presentation 20+10min
Harding, Genevieve; Oliver, Sarah; McMillan, Janice; Chihota, Justice
The landscape of higher education in South Africa continues to shift. At the University of Cape Town, the Global Citizenship Programme (GCP) (www.globalcitizen.uct.ac.za) helps students grapple with complex issues of social justice facing our society. The ‘Social Infrastructures’ (SI) course, borne out of the GCP’ and the case study in our paper, uses community engaged learning to provide a critical space for emerging engineering professionals to think about the social context in which they apply their university knowledge and skills.
The SI course asks students to consider the broader social context outside the university, and the challenges facing citizen movements and activists in the greater Cape Town area. Through community engaged learning, we aim to create opportunities for reciprocity through valuing different forms of knowledge and disrupting knowledge hierarchies. Community engaged learning thus becomes a tool through which students can come to terms with the realities of power and privilege, and how this relates to themselves as students, emerging professionals and active citizens.
We understand that community engagement does not inherently address social and epistemic justice issues, and we work intentionally to achieve this. In particular, the principles of multi-centricity, indigeneity and reflexivity (Dei, 2014) have proved useful in making sense of our practice and our work together. Finally, as a diverse team with a commitment to reflective critical practice, our ‘intergenerational’ and ‘cross contextual’ conversations have raised powerful and disruptive questions e.g. How might our teaching and learning help students engage and navigate the ‘social’? How might community engaged learning play a role in this? And how, if at all, does this intersect with calls for decolonization? These are the questions we take into the heart of our work in the classroom and on which our paper is premised.
Community engaged teaching and learning; Engaging the social; New professionals
Exploring transformation through adaptive reuse
Formal presentation - 10+5min
The design research studio, “Adapt!” in the post-graduate architecture programme at the University of Cape Town, aims to explore ways in which to engage with urban theories and sustainability theories through the adaptive design of existing redundant structures in the city.
This paper will look at activities undertaken by the students in the studio environment during the 2017 academic year. Studio ‘Adapt!’ brings together theoretical and practical courses in the Honours and Masters programmes of Architecture. The twenty-four architecture students are exploring theories of transformation from the global south to inform design work that entails adapting, transforming, and designing with existing structures. The work also involves engaging with stakeholders: users, property owners, service providers, leaders, etcetera and the design in response to these engagements.
The students are required to interpret the, often conflicting, information and to use it to generate ideas for design that aim to transform the environment in response to needs expressed. They consider the existing city as made up of strategies, ways in which the city is controlled or governed, and how these may conflict with the needs of the people living in it. The students are challenged to design a counter-strategy that will accommodate the needs of people or the new demands on an environment or building.
Theories on the right to the city, walking and mapping, conflicting rationalities, efficiency and resilience, the resourcefulness of inhabitants, collaborative engagement, the secret lives of buildings, and small changes, are drawn on to guide the methods used by the students in the studio. The work of students, both theoretical and practical, will be used to illustrate concepts that hold potential for transformative practices in the design of the built environment.
adaptive reuse; transformation; architectural design research studio
Extending training boundaries to work-place based teams in a Blended Training Programmme
Formal presentation – 20 + 10min
Shung King, Maylene
The Health Policy and Systems Division at UCT delivers a post-graduate Diploma in Health Management to public sector and other health managers who aim to create public value through their organisations. Previously, participants attended four residential modules with assessment activities, linked to their work contexts, during the inter-modular periods.
This year, following the refreshing of the course curriculum and approach, we introduced a deliberate involvement of the teams that participants are part of in their specific work-contexts. We had designed a set of inter-modular activities that require participants to engage with teams as part of the activity and in so doing they: forge stronger links with their teams; share the knowledge and skills which they acquire on the course and thus create stronger capacity in the work-place; diminish the isolation that participants often feel when they go back to their workplaces following class-room training by extending their learning experience to work-place colleagues
In this paper we will reflect on our learnings and those of participants thus far, of involving work-place teams as part of the participants’ training experiences and in particular their deliberate involvement in assessments. We will also reflect on issues that require further evaluation.
Team-training; Work-place based training; Extending the boundaries of training beyond the classroom
Formative learning tools in Anatomy and Physiology driving socially active self-directed learning and assessment
Formal presentation - 10+5min
Abrahams, Amaal; Pienaar, Lunelle
The design of a curriculum involves more than just the alignment of the learning outcomes with the learning activities or assessments. For learning to occur, educators need to create a learning environment that will ensure students reach the desired objectives. Social interaction during this process is critical for learning as it will empower students to question, challenge and eradicate assumptions. The research goal of this project is to teach students to become active participants in their own knowledge construction and to equip them with the underlying skills needed to be self-directed learners (1). To support self-directed learning, we introduced an interactive social quiz into the first year Anatomy and Physiology course for the Health and Rehabilitation students. Formative quizzes are effective in providing students with ongoing feedback regarding their content and conceptual knowledge of a subject (2). Importantly, they can also show students their knowledge-gaps and highlight any misconceptions they may have. Prior to the quiz, students will be grouped into teams and each team will be required to formulate their own questions and answers. By formulating their own questions, students will be encouraged to work in groups (social learning), take responsibility for their learning (self-directed) and importantly apply their knowledge through developing questions and answers in the quiz (active learning). The content of the questions should align with the lectures and students will be encouraged to be as creative as possible in developing their quiz questions. We anticipate that the generation of questions and answers by the students will allow educators to identify any misconceptions the students may have on the subject (3). Moreover, together with student evaluations the quiz will enable us to explore the effectiveness of the quiz as a formative assessment and its influence on learning by evaluating 1) the learning environment, 2) learning gains within the subject matter, 3) feedback between students and lecturer’s and 4) the discovery of problem areas and misconceptions.
1. Biggs, J. (2012). What the student does: teaching for enhanced learning. Higher Education
Research & Development, 31(1), 39-55. doi: Doi 10.1080/07294360.2012.642839
2. Hudson, J.N., & Bristow, D.R. (2006). Formative assessment can be fun as well as educational. Adv Physiol Educ, 30, 33–37. doi:10.1152/advan.00040.2005
3. Bekkink, M.O., Rogier Donders, A.R.T., Kooloos, J.G., 1, de Waal, R.M.W., & Ruiter, D.J. (2016). Uncovering students’ misconceptions by assessment of their written questions. BMC Medical Education, 16(221), 3-7. DOI 10.1186/s12909-016-0739-5
Formative; Assessment; Active learning
Innovative ways of teaching anatomy to the Intervention Programme for Medicine at the University of Cape Town
Formal presentation - 10+5min
van der Berg, Kerri
Anatomy practical tutorials for the Intervention Programme in Medicine previously involved a few anatomical specimens while the bulk of the session was made up of reading the textbook under lecturer supervision. The reasoning behind this approach was to get students to engage with the textbook and to ensure that they completed the relevant readings. Anatomy is, however, a practical three-dimensional subject and a variety of teaching methods may be more efficient in conveying information to students. The aim was to introduce different modes of teaching that will appeal to all students and to promote active learning.
Students were provided with the relevant page references a week in advance of the teaching day and were asked to read them before the session. They were also given a worksheet to complete as they prepared. They could hand in the worksheet a week after the teaching day, which gave them time to consolidate after the session. A didactic lecture was delivered while the practical involved active learning, mainly by means of peer-teaching under lecturer supervision. Students worked in pairs and were encouraged to use textbooks, Anatomy models and specimens, computers and drawings to explain their given topic to the rest of the class.
Computer-based learning was incorporated into the practical sessions by means of the “Anatomy and Physiology REVEALED®” DVDs. Online learning was encouraged as the author created a webpage called “Anatomy Assist” through Vula to help students with studying. The page consisted of written content, diagrams, links to videos of professors using specimens to explain Anatomy, as well as links to tutorials and quizzes.
A week following the teaching day, a surprise quiz was held to test the students’ knowledge about the section.
Students responded positively to the interactive approach and participation was enthusiastic and inclusive. Using a combination of different modes of teaching Anatomy in the Intervention Programme may help students find their preferred and most efficient method of learning Anatomy.
Anatomy; active learning; medical education
Integrating Digital Literacy into pre-service teacher education
Formal presentation 20+10min
Ed Campbell and A/Prof Rochelle Kapp
Teachers are increasingly expected to use digital resources to facilitate learning in South African classrooms. While many pre-service teachers have relatively high levels of digital literacy, they do not necessarily know how to use technology to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom. In addition, research has shown that teachers are often also intimidated by the relatively high levels of digital literacy among their learners.
Since 2014, the presenters have been engaged in an ongoing process of research into student teachers’ digital literacy practices and effective ways to integrate digital literacy in teacher education. The work has been informed by poststructualist theorists who view digital literacy as deeply embedded within the social practices of specific contexts. For this reason, it has been argued that the integration of digital literacy should focus strongly on the practices associated with the student teachers’ subject area, taking care not to separate digital literacy from the context in which it will be used.
The findings from Ed Campbell’s Masters’ research have also emphasised the importance of taking the digital divide within the classroom into account. The data highlight the ways in which the student teachers’ perceptions of their own digital proficiency and of the affordances of the digital influenced their classroom practices. Significantly, the participants conflated digital literacy and internet literacy; tended to treat digital proficiency as a decontextualised, technical skill and struggled to conceptualise informal digital knowledge as a resource for teaching. These insights have informed the development of a curriculum that uses a combination of modelling and authentic tasks to equip pre-service English teachers with the necessary critical and creative thinking to integrate digital literacy into their classes.
Each year, the project has culminated in pre-service teachers having the option to create a digital storytelling video, or any other digital resource they deem appropriate for classroom use. From 2014 to 2016, pre-service teachers displayed great creativity and innovation in their digital resources, which ranged from videos to online resources for the classroom. They used the videos for multiple purposes to scaffold learning; as resources to reflect on student learning and to reflect on their own identities and positions as teachers. Two videos, will be showcased at this year’s conference. The videos show how deeply English pre-service teachers engage in digital literacy practices when these practices are closely associated with the English curriculum.
integrating digital literacy; teacher education; English school curriculum
Learning through quizzes
Chiware, Maureen; Noll, Susanne; Paulsen, Anthea; Mfengu, Andiswa
The library has traditionally provided library instruction on a face-to-face basis. However, a significant amount of training now also occurs outside the classroom through online tools such as videos and guides. Although a great deal of effort, time and resources are invested into these training initiatives, we have generally not had any assessment tools in place to test the efficacy of the training. Assessment is an integral part of an instruction programme. It helps determine the quality and effectiveness of the programme. Through assessment we can demonstrate the value of the training and its contribution to student success. Quizzes are a prompt way of understanding how well students met their learning objectives. To assess students’ learning the library has created online quizzes using Articulate Quizmaker. In addition to being used as summative assessment tools, some of the quizzes were designed as formative assessment tools. These provide immediate feedback that students can use to enhance their learning.
The initial set of quizzes, “Library general quiz”, was designed to help students to acquire the basic skills they require to effectively access resources in UCT Libraries. To provide context, we linked the quizzes to instructional videos. The quizzes are available through the libraries web page so they can be easily accessed. Class, course and resource specific quizzes have also been created and these are available through LibGuides - an online platform used to provide resources tailored to specific library user groups.
Library instruction; Quizzes; Assessment
Lessons from launching a blog for CA(SA) students
This change story covers the first year of a blog for CA(SA) students (www.paul.maughan.co.za). It will cover the launch, implementation and lessons learnt so far. The WordPress site was relatively easy to establish and the regular interaction with students has been encouraging. This has been an enjoyable means of supplementing teaching practice and might be of interest to those lecturers who wish to explore this additional means of connecting with students.
blog; teaching; technology
Mobile Learning Management Issues in Higher Education
Formal presentation 20+10min
Toperesu, B-Abee; Van Belle, Jean Paul
As mobile devices have become ubiquitous, they have found their way into the classroom fostering a new phenomenon termed ‘mobile learning’ and resulting in a paradigm shift in pedagogical approaches. In the African context, they empower learners to learn and study anytime, anywhere. This is particularly relevant in Higher Education where a large cohort of learners from disadvantaged backgrounds, i.e. those from the disconnected side of the digital divide, can now access learning materials on and off-campus easily. However, because of this, the university IT infrastructure has to cater for the increase in use of mobile devices accessing the university’s systems and/or connecting to the university’s network. This research study identified and examined new IS issues caused by this influx of mobile devices. We then identified and reviewed the top mobile learning IS issues faced by higher education institutions. Key findings indicate that Information Security and Optimising Educational Technology will remain the main focus in the coming years, in terms of ‘building capacity for change’ in higher education.
Security; mLearning; Bandwidth
Progress of a Multiple Choice Question Bank Project funded through a UCT Teaching Grant
Formal presentation - 10+5min
Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) papers are an integral evaluation component of the pre-clinical undergraduate MBChB curriculum. The Department of Pathology currently administers a database which has grown to well over 3000 such questions covering 19 diverse subject areas, which are utilized in the assessment of both 2nd and 3rd Year Medical students.
At the start of the researcher’s tenure in the Department, the database was still contained in a series of unindexed word processor files. This presented considerable challenges; including searching for specific question topics, assessment blueprinting, analysing historic question performance, determining question discrimination values and finally, adherence to faculty assessment quality guidelines.
The Department was thus in need of an MCQ Bank Software solution, however; these generally require considerable resources to acquire and maintain, resources which the Department alone did not have access to. In the absence of this, a ‘homemade solution’ was developed and piloted, using Microsoft Office Excel©, software available on University of Cape Town computers.
This resulted in the Department of Pathology’s native MCQ Bank, which ensures that the 3000 plus questions are easily accessible, secure, indexed according to subject area, and are easy to use, in a cost-effective manner. Initial use of the Bank is yielding historic performance data on our questions, which allows for the identification of such subject areas lacking evaluative breadth and depth. Reviewing MCQ historic performance data allows assessment of both the construct validity of the MCQ, as well as its ability to discern level of understanding of content.
Examinations may thus now be set, evaluated and analysed in a more efficient, and fair manner. Through the use of a Teaching Grant, it is hoped that these processes may be further automated, as they are still labour intensive. The enhanced functionality would also decrease liability to human error in setting and marking examinations. The MCQ Bank Project has in this way streamlined the assessment practices of the Department of Pathology, and capacitated the Department with an efficient method by which to collate and set MCQ examination papers.
This presentation will describe the researcher’s experience of conceptualising, indexing, developing and ultimately utilizing the MCQ Bank to evaluate students in their 2nd and 3rd Years of the undergraduate MBChB curriculum.
Multiplechoice; Software; Assessment
The Unbundled University: Researching Emerging Models in an Unequal Landscape
Formal presentation 10+5min
Swartz, Rebecca; Czerniewicz, Laura; Cliff, Alan; Walji, Sukaina
This presentation introduces research-in-progress from the Unbundled University project, based at UCT and Leeds University. The presentation examines the emerging nature of unbundling at Higher Education institutions in South Africa. We explore the relationship between unbundling, marketisation and digital technologies at South African universities. New forms of provision are opening up new relationships between public universities and private providers. The paper discusses these relationships, examining their implications for inequality in South African higher education. It draws on data collected from 30 interviews with policy makers, senior leaders and academics in the South African higher education sector.
Keywords: unbundling; marketisation; inequality
The use of PMDs in and out the classroom amongst first year students in an extended degree program at UCT
Formal presentation 20+10min
Brown, Cheryl; Haupt, Genevieve; King, Thomas
The extended degrees programme in the Faculty of Humanities, was selected as a location for this study for two main reasons. Firstly, many of the students enrolled in this programme came from a low socio-economic background and therefore would not be have access to BYOD, and secondly, courses in this programme had chosen to adopt a blended learning approach meaning that the addition of a device would assist students in one way or another.
At the start of their first year students were surveyed about their access to PMDs. Based on need, 68 students were given an entry level proline tablet to use as their own for the duration of their studies. By establishing a learning context where students all had access to a PMD the lecturers could engage students in a multimodal blended learning and teaching approach. The paper draws on data in the form of student surveys and focus groups and explores not only the challenges and opportunities for students in using PMDs for their learning both in and out of the classroom but the transferability of their use of PMDs across courses in their program.
Personal mobile devices; Blended learning
‘Survival of the Quickest’: An ethnographic investigation of UCT’s assignment submission protocol
Formal presentation 20+10min
Over the last ten years the ‘extension form’ has been an ambiguous tool in my teaching repertoire. On one hand it forms part of the university Extension Policy where a student is entitled to “request an extension to a submission deadline when circumstances outside the student’s control have arisen which prevent submission or are likely to result in significant underperformance if the original deadline is enforced”. The extension form can be understood as a Foucauldian ‘technique of power’ whereby the body’s operations can be controlled through coercion, regulations and surveillance. The lecturer’s observation and ‘gaze’ through the extension request are key instruments of power. On the other hand, lecturers usually only learn about the levels of anxiety among students just before an essay submission while pouring over piles of requests for extensions. From these hand scrawled requests we learn about our students ‘heavy workloads,’ ‘depression’, ‘medical afflictions’ and ‘domestic crisis.’ How lecturers respond to extension requests is as important as how adept we are in teaching difficult subject matter. Drawing on ethnographic methods with second year students into the experiences and understandings of extension forms and their ability to succeed at university, I argue that the notion of good 'time management' shapes student lives whereby students come to see themselves and others as 'good' and 'bad' students. The imagined ideal of managing time assumes that students have equal access to time thereby leading to the blame of those that cannot manage assignment deadlines.
Extensions; Foucault; Ethnographic methods
Use of Engineering Design Course as a Means to Introduce Decolonization in Engineering Education
Formal presentation - 10+5min
Mishra, Amit; Perez, Richard
Of late decolonisation of university education has been a focus of intense debate and endeavours. In an emergent continent such as Africa this has a special place and a special role to play in the future development. However, the means to achieve this is nontrivial and more so in hard-courses like mathematics and engineering.
We are embarking on a pilot design course in collaboration with the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design Thinking by infusing a more human centred design approach in the Engineering Design course for Electrical Engineering Department - that we teach to the final year undergraduate students of the department. Where we balance the traditional “designing things right” with “designing the right thing”, balancing the traditional analytical thinking with intuitive thinking.
Design is an inherent part of engineering education. However, engineering design is witnessing a huge change in paradigm and methodology. Concepts like innovator's methods and design thinking is making it much more agile and relevant from a human centred perspective than the traditional rigid system design approaches. We are taking advantage of this by giving a major project to the student-groups in which they have to find a problem experienced in a local context and propose 1) a real human need; 2) an engineering solution to it; and 3) a system design to build this product. We try to keep the problems as closely aligned to the sustainable development goals as possible.
This modus operandi achieves two goals at the same time. Technically speaking this exposes the students to the concepts of design thinking and agile system engineering. One of the major characteristics of design thinking is the close interaction the designer has to have with the end users, to truly understand their needs and challenges. This achieves the second goal in which the students are made to work and think effectively and in innovative manner in diverse teams about a locally relevant complex challenge from the point of view of the end user. And we believe this can only further enhance and compliment the current change journey we are all on.
Keywords: Decolonisation; Design; Engineering
Decolonisation; Design; Engineering
Using children’s rights to build leadership for child health
Formal presentation 20+10min
Using children’s rights to build leadership for child health: Interrogating the nature and purpose of engaged scholarship
The 2005 Talloires Declaration on the Civic Roles and Social Responsibilities of Higher Education outlines universities “unique obligation to listen, understand and contribute to social transformation and development”, and UCT has expressed a similar commitment to engaged scholarship and meaningful engagement with external constituencies. While there is growing literature on engaged scholarship and our role as researchers, what are the implications of this 'third mission' for teaching and learning?
Drawing on lessons from the Children’s Institute’s engagement in continuous professional development (CPD) and the new Postgraduate Diploma in Community and General Paediatrics – this presentation traces the ways in which our child rights courses respond to a broader landscape of health care and higher education reforms, and raises questions around how do - and should - we define ‘engaged teaching’ at UCT? Does it extend beyond the delivery of CPD courses and service learning, to embrace other forms of engagement – and how can we mainstream ‘engaged teaching’ so that UCT fosters in our students “the civic literacy, knowledge and skills … to build a more just, equitable and unified South African society.” And what does this imply about the kinds of knowledge, knowers and pedagogies that we value.
Children's Rights; Engaged scholarship; Engaged teaching
What is a Concept? Critiquing Notions of "Concreteness" and "Transfer"
Formal presentation 20+10min
Southey, Philip; Allie, Saalih
We often make use of the term “concept”, but do not analyse exactly what we mean by the term. This presentation will analyse the notion of “an instantiation of a concept” as used in the widely published studies of Kaminski et al. In these studies, students were taught a mathematical concept either by means of concrete instantiations of that concept, or by means of abstract instantiations. For example: “combining two coconuts with two coconuts gives us four coconuts” is a concrete instantiation of the concept of addition, while “2 + 2 = 4” is an abstract instantiation. Kaminski et al. conclude that students are better able to transfer mathematical concepts when they are taught by means of abstract examples. We will argue that the conclusions of these well executed studies are confused because the notion of “instantiation of a concept” is confused. Our argument is based on a Knowledge in Pieces (or Resources) perspective of conceptual change.
concept; transfer; concreteness
Whose science is it anyway? Teaching intervention physics with ISLE
Hillebrand-Viljoen, Charlotte; Cole, Katie; Peterson, Steve
The MBChB intervention programme (IP) targets students who perform poorly in the first semester of MBChB, preparing them for re-entry to the mainstream MBChB course a year later. The physics component of the programme comprises a semester of foundational work preparing students to repeat their first semester Physics for Medicine course with more success. In 2016 we restructured the curriculum of this Physics course using the ISLE (Investigative Science Learning Environment) approach. We moved the emphasis of the course away from spending more time with each physics concept and instead focussed on developing students' sense of ownership of scientific ideas. The results were encouraging.
Many students (perhaps especially in MBChB) seem to enter university physics with the implicit idea that passing the course will mean memorising a list of formulae and theorems given in the textbook and presented in lectures. The ISLE approach to teaching physics encourages students to take a more expert-like attitude in investigating scientific concepts and using hypotheticodeductive reasoning to build their own justifications for physical principles, like Newton's laws. Students are expected to challenge results, justify their work based on their own reasoning – not just what the textbook says – and even find limits where established scientific ideas don't work. Through this process, they can take ownership of the ideas involved. Physical principles are no longer simply accepted on the authority of the textbook, but are the products of the students' own reasoning. This ownership makes it easier to apply ideas across diverse contexts. It also helps to lessen a perceived focus on the people who first wrote down physics ideas, who may not seem relevant or relatable to today's South African students. Instead, the focus is firmly on building and developing students' abilities to use their own reasoning to create useful descriptions of the physical world.
Teaching high school level ISLE physics in IP resulted in 40% learning gains on the FCI (Force Concept Inventory) instrument for participating students (n=8), which compares well with so-called 'reformed' first year level courses and significantly outperforms traditional-style first year physics courses. Initial results after students return to the mainstream physics course are encouraging, with the 2017 repeating cohort outperforming previous cohorts of repeating students. Analysis of results from the first semester of 2017 compared with other years will be presented.
ISLE (Investigative Science Learning Environment); intervention programme; reasoning skills