Navigate to the abstract of your choice by the Author List below.
Background: Formative assessments may be low stakes events which provide both students and educators with information about what students know and can do. It allows students and educators the opportunity to ascertain where the students are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there. In the absence of pass or fail decisions associated with summative assessments, formative assessments may also provide a less intimidating experience for both students and educators. To understand the variation in student educational backgrounds and to facilitate the appropriate teaching and learning of Anatomy and Physiology, there is a need to assess students understanding and foundational knowledge of Life Sciences at entry into programmes that require Anatomy and Physiology.
Summary of work: This presentation describes the development of a 38-item multiple-choice online assessment to establish first year Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and Bachelor of Medicine (MBChB) students’ foundational knowledge of Life Sciences. The items selected were based on the Grade 12 final Life Sciences examination papers and the demands in the first year Anatomy and Physiology curriculum at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town.
Summary of results: Three hundred and twenty first year students (124 and 196 Health and Rehabilitation and MBChB students respectively) wrote the Competency in Anatomy and Physiology (CAP) assessment. Classical item and test analysis was done using the Iteman 4.3 software to review and refine individual items in the assessment as well as gain insights about the diagnostic information of the items. The reliability, Kuder-Richardson (KR) Formula 20, was 0.644 (alpha) and standard error of the mean (SEM) was 2.534 for the two student cohorts combined. The assessment consisted of 21 Physiology items and 16 Anatomy items. The KR was 0.479 and 0.570 for the Physiology and Anatomy items respectively. The mean difficulty index (p-value) for Physiology was 0.604 and discrimination index (Rpbis) 0.154, while for Anatomy the item difficulty index was 0.566 and discrimination index 0.205.
Discussion: Within the Faculty of Health Sciences there is a need to develop a custom-made instrument to assess the preparedness of students for Life Sciences as they begin their tertiary level education. Developing a test instrument designed to assess conceptual understanding in Life Sciences within a South African curricular context will facilitate a better understanding of students learning needs and subsequent academic support required. Further work will focus on improving the ability of the items to discriminate between high and low scoring students as well as improving the item difficulty. In summary, based on the reliability value the assessment was shown to be an effective instrument to measure student’s foundational knowledge in Anatomy and Physiology. Long term we anticipate that data gathered will be used to monitor disparities in the Life Science competencies of first year students as they transition into tertiary level Anatomy and Physiology for the first time.
Formative assessment; Anatomy and Physiology; First year Health Science Students
Out the box - 8 min
In October 2017, at the start of term four, the Faculty of Health Sciences launched a pilot peer-led tutorial programme in key first year Health & Rehabilitation Sciences and MBChB subjects. The primary goal of the programme, which was named “theHUB”, was to provide students with the opportunity to acquire and clarify the content knowledge of the subject, as well as develop and enhance fundamental lifelong learning skills. Within the peer-led support programme, senior students in MBChB, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech language pathology, as well as postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows specialising in subject specific courses, were selected as peer facilitators. The learning objectives of the tutorials were student-driven whereby students submitted their own questions in areas that required clarity. The subjects were selected based on past student’s feedback regarding areas that they found challenging and where augmented support would have been appreciated. Over the six-week period, an average of 58 MBChB students signed up for the augmented tutorials each week. For the Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (which included Occupational therapy and Physiotherapy), 120 students participated in the tutorial programme per week over the six-week period. Based on the evaluations, students reported that the tutorials improved their understanding of the content and created an environment of shared and active learning. Moreover, students appreciated that the facilitators explained the content in a manner that was easy to understand and that they were open to questions and feedback from the group. Twenty-nine facilitators participated in the tutorial programme and based on their feedback the tutorials sessions were constructive and in general students actively participated during the sessions. All the facilitators indicated that the tutorials reinforced their own learning of the subject through instruction. In 2018, the programme is continuing for the new cohort of first years and has been extended to the second-year students. The continued support in second year is critical to ensure the retention of knowledge and academic skills developed in first year. In summary, our goal is to create a student-driven HUB that is largely a self-directed process where construction of knowledge is individually and collectively promoted. A long term transformational goal is to create a learning HUB which is shared amongst students, facilitators and academics that ultimately encourages and promotes a strong learning community that will establish itself as an individual and institutional practice.
Active learning; Peers; Self-directed
Mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII) involves the mental juxtaposition of a future outcome with barriers that may prevent its attainment. It is a process that also involves ways to surmount such obstacles, through intentions (known as if-then plans). This process was introduced as part of the Residence Academic Orientation. First years were provided with an online link to apply the MCII process to an academic goal. Approximately 900 first years participated. This presentation shares insights into the types of academic goals, obstacles and solutions that first years mapped out.
Academic goal setting; Barriers; Solutions
Through continuous engagement with colleagues, students, councils within the residence and senior residence leaders, it has become evident that the implementation of the living and learning activities within senior residences poses as a challenge as well as an opportunity. Senior residences live independently from one another which can potentially cause isolation and loneliness. An opportunity in respect to senior residences connecting with each other and creating meaningful relationships has been identified. The question is “how can senior residences create a learning and living space that improves the senior residence student experience?”
Through the use of a methodology known as design thinking, the third tier residence association has collectively decided to engage and connect with members of the senior residences and collecting data on their lived experiences. This data will be utilised to create a space for creative solutions and to implement at one senior residence at a time. This would be the first time that such an initiative has been attempted which could considerably alter the senior residence life experience for all who live there. What is shared in this presentation are reflections and ongoing insights gained through this initiative.
senior residence student experience; reflections and ongoing insights; design thinking
This study seeks to contribute to the field of learning management system (LMS) development in tertiary educational institutions, particularly to advance the adoption of learning management systems (LMSes) by exploring the incorporation of socially-motivated discussion forum models. This study proposes a Web-based application, which includes four different discussion forum models for LMSes, in order to test usability and student preferences.
The purpose of this study was to compare two non-social discussion forums and two social discussion forums, to determine their appropriateness in terms of attributes or features and general functionality for LMSes. The design processes led to the creation of a Web-based application called 4DFs, which includes four different discussion forum models.
Two of these models are non-social discussion forums: the chat room unstructured model and the traditional general threaded discussion. The other two types are social discussion forums, where users can choose who they converse with: the Twitter-style short comment feed and the Facebook-style. A pilot study was conducted to discover any errors or issues with the experimental procedure. A controlled experiment was then conducted with 31 students from the institution. Participants had to fill out a background information survey to gather some demographic information and to understand more about participants’ previous experiences using chat rooms, discussion forums, and social media applications for university related purposes and for non-university related purposes. Following that, participants were given tasks to test all the features of the different discussion forum models. To avoid bias in the participants’ choosing of discussion forum models, the research was conducted with a Counterbalanced Measures Design. Participants had to fill in the System Usability Scale (SUS) questionnaire in conjunction with their use of the Web-based application. Then, after using all discussion forums, they had to fill out a preferences questionnaire that asked about their preferences of the discussion forums and the features.
The Twitter-style short comment feed model was preferred in terms of the ease of use and since participants were familiar with this forum. This was followed by the chat room unstructured model and the traditional general threaded discussion in terms of these forums’ ease of use and students’ preference for the layout. The Facebook-style was less preferable. Also, participants indicated that the post button, reply button, edit, delete, and search button were more beneficial features. Participants mention that the layout of the chat room unstructured model was not optimal, since the massive amount of text made it confusing and unclear to decipher. Participants suggested that including the uploading of media, allowing private chat, adding extra features for important posts, and using a repost button in the discussion forums would be more useful.
Students preferred that the learning forum include certain characteristics; they prioritised ease of use, less complexity, less interaction and a user-friendly interface over their familiarity with the forum. For learning, there is a need to use the features for a specific purpose so users do not necessarily want extra fancy features (like emojis), instead they want systems that help them to learn efficiently.
Learning Management Systems; Discussion Forums; Learning Forums
There is a need for medical education to be revamped and further developed. Current methods remain typically traditional with a focus on didactic teaching. It is however necessary, and possible for medical education to be enhanced and improved by technology. Given the increase in internet access provided by mobile networks, mobile applications (apps) providing educational material are becoming increasingly available and accessible.
To create a contextually relevant and easy to use resource for medical students, interns, and medical officers, The Faculty of Health Science medical undergraduates and the Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town collaborated with Appenberg Digital Publishing (www.appenberg.uct.ac.za) to develop a mobile app that would provide systematic, clinical diagnostic approaches in the specialty of Internal Medicine. Clinical APPtitude is a reference guide offering the user systematic diagnostic approaches. For easy reference of these clinical approaches and interpretation thereof, the content has been organised by signs, diagnoses and special investigations.
Clinical APPtitude provides diagnostic approaches for health professionals in their daily practice. The purpose of the app is to enhance formal lectures, bedside tutorials and professional advice. Currently, finding information that relates to one’s context, with correct units and statistics is incredibly laborious. The app holds particular relevance for busy working environments where a lot of information needs to be easily and readily accessible. Having a tool that caters for easy access learning in an African medical context where resources are stretched would be ideal as it would guide the examination, special investigations, inform the differential diagnoses, and give aspects of management that a senior medical student and/or junior doctor should know.
Developing a mobile app comes with its own set of challenges. These specifically include the development of software with ongoing technical support and acquisition of funding in a setting where resources are limited. Despite these challenges, we have developed Clinical APPtitude which we hope will be easily accessible nationally and internationally. This platform will allow for easy, cheap and logistically simple dissemination of clinical knowledge.
Clinical APPtitude will be available for download from Apple’s App Store and the Android Google Play from July 2018.
Medicine; App; Education
There has been a movement across South Africa’s education sector to widen access and participation in higher education (HE). Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programmes offer an opportunity to do so by providing access to HE to those who do not necessarily have the prerequisite requirements. There is still much to learn regarding RPL programmes and the unique needs and challenges of RPL students, as most of these programmes are still in the pilot stage. This study is specifically concerned with the transition of RPL students into postgraduate HE, as little research has been conducted on this topic. To gain a deeper understanding of RPL student transition, the researcher followed a case-study approach in which the experiences of RPL students enrolled in an online postgraduate diploma programme in management in marketing (PgDipMM) at a South African university were investigated. The programme piloted a novel RPL assessment and selection process which aimed to address criticisms of previous models. Qualitative data was obtained through eight open-ended, in-depth interviews with RPL students enrolled in the programme. Using a thematic analysis approach, nine key themes were identified as possible mechanisms that facilitated RPL students’ successful transition into the postgraduate diploma and six themes that did not. Findings indicated that, to a large extent, the novel RPL assessment and selection process appeared to have facilitated RPL students’ successful transition into a postgraduate diploma through technical preparation and building students’ confidence in their abilities. Possible enablers and barriers to RPL students’ successful transition were also identified and discussed. In short the enablers included learner maturity, transference of prior knowledge and skills, social support, sense of belonging, access to effective resources and financial security. Conversely, the barriers included academic difficulties, under preparedness for the intensity of HE and time restrictions. The study had theoretical and practical implications in that it contributed to our understanding of RPL student transition to HE and provided suggestions for ways in which their successful transition can be facilitated.
Recognition of prior learning (RPL), RPL student transition, RPL assessment and selection, postgraduate studies, higher education
Nationally, students and staff were arrested during the #FeesMustFall protests in 2015, 2016 and 2017. By October 2016, there were 831 arrests in 2016 alone (“831 arrests mar…”). Many students are still battling it out in court cases. In March 2018, the Courts dropped charges against twenty- three UWC students after sixteen months. These students allege that the accusations were false and they were wrongfully imprisoned (Furlong, 2018). Many other reports and narratives abound of the experiences of students who have effectively been criminalised. Should we care? This paper provides a rationale and perspective of why we should care about the criminalisation of students and protest more generally.
Some scholars argue that the neo-liberalisation of Higher Education is a global trend that manifests in three broad areas. Firstly, financing and fees regimes that are underpinned by notions that Higher Education is a private good as well as a public good. Secondly, the growth of managerialism and the adoption of business principles to run universities. Thirdly, the casualization of academic staff and outsourcing of “non-core” services (Cini and Guzman-Concha 2017).
Student protests in light of fees increases, the commodification of education, and social justice issues are a global trend too. A third interconnected trend is the response of university managements and governments to quell student protest (Kennelly 2014).
These interconnected global trends provide the backdrop for a focused discussion on the criminalisation of student protest and protest more broadly.
Care, connection, creation
The theme of the conference is a clarion call to shift the discussion away from the narratives of criminalisation and “us and them” but rather to explore the nature and effects of criminalisation. What do we mean by criminalisation? What are the effects of criminalisation? Who is affected by criminalisation? How do we employ the notions of care, connection and creation?
Lessons from Student Affairs Practice
The lens of this presentation is from a Student Affairs practitioner’s perspective and positionality. The role of Student Affairs is about promoting holistic student development so that students succeed academically and as good citizens. Increasingly, the purpose for Student Affairs practice is to be intentional in the “co-curricular” space and to connect the out-of-classroom experience to the inside-classroom realities; thereby playing a role in the learning process (Torres and Madiba 2017).
How does the experience of Students Affairs practitioners in providing practical support to students, and engaging with a range of different stakeholders, fulfil our purpose?
The topic of the criminalisation of students is evocative and emotive; and definitely political and ideological. However, it is a necessary discussion and is an opportunity for deeper reflection, learning and hopefully transformation.
Cini, L., and Guzmán-Concha, C. 2017. Student Movements in the Age of Austerity. The cases of Chile and England. Social Movement Studies. 16(5), pp. 623-628
Furlong, A. Charges dropped against UWC students after 16 months. News24. 3 March 2018. Available:
https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/charges-dropped-against-uwc-students-after-16-months-20180302 [2018, 4 May]
Kennelly, J. 2014. The Quebec Student Protests: Challenging neoliberalism one pot at a time. Critical Arts. 28(1), pp. 135-139
Torres, V. and Madiba, M. 2017. The Role of Student Affairs in Student Engagement and Learning. In: Strydom, F. Kuh, G. and Loots S. eds., Engaging Students: Using Evidence to Promote Student Success. SUN MeDIA Bloemfontein
31 arrests mar 2016 Fees Must Fall protests. 2016. DispatchLive. 29 October. Available:
http://www.dispatchlive.co.za/news/2016/10/29/831-arrests-mar-2016-fees-must-fall-protests [2018, 4 May]
Criminalising student protest; Student Affairs; Neo-liberalism
The academic department remains the dominant operational unit in our system of higher education and is largely responsible for delivery of the University’s core business of teaching and research. The process of identifying attributes of academic departments is explored as a potential framework for professional development, particularly within the context of teaching and learning. It thus appears reasonable for a programme of institutional development to have a significant focus on staff development within an academic department. Data were collected via interviews with academic staff: one Dean; one Deputy Dean; three HoDs; and three non-HoD colleagues. The eight interviews which inform this study were transcribed and a categorization or “coding” scheme was allowed to develop from the data, through the application of a grounded theoretical framework. After the coding scheme was refined, each response item from the interviews was allocated to one of the three categories. About 80% of the responses could be allocated in this way. Three main themes associated with the functioning of academic departments were established which may serve as useful points of departure for both individual and group professional development within higher education. The results inform a view that thriving academic departments feature a strong sense of vision and common purpose. There is also evidence that not only are there particular sociologies that underpin successful academic departments, but also philosophies of academic practice. Such philosophies are likely to be discipline-specific, or at least faculty-specific, and therefore themselves might allow useful insights into approaches which lead to substantive reform in our system. The theme of this conference (Care, Connect, Create) offers an appropriate mirror against which methods for staff development based on collegial cooperation, particularly for teaching and learning, may be explored.
Academic staff development; Curriculum reform; Teaching and learning attributes
Out the box – 8min
I teach engineering students who have failed a university mathematics course despite achieving A-grades for mathematics at school. While many of these fabulous students recover from the setback and pass further mathematics courses, others do not. Some unsuccessful students are motivated to graduate and can tell me what they should be doing to succeed – plan study time, pre-read before lectures, ask questions when stuck – but they do not implement the behaviour. What is going on?
Carol Dweck, recently awarded the world’s most lucrative education award, offers answers to this puzzle in her popular book Mindset (2006). Behaviour is difficult to change because it is closely linked to beliefs. Regarding academic ability, the extremes in a spectrum of beliefs are (1) that academic ability can be developed, that we can always grow our academic ability, that we are never at the level of our potential, and (2) that you are born with a fixed academic ability and beyond a basic level of development, there is nothing you can do about it. Dweck terms these growth and fixed mindsets.
Consider an engineering student who wants to ask a question on something they do not understand. A fixed mindset student who wants to be thought of as clever may reason that it is more strategic to hide their ignorance to maintain a ‘clever’ image around peers rather than ask a question. A growth mindset student cares less about exposing their ignorance because they believe that they can grow to a higher level of ‘cleverness’ and that asking questions will help their progress.
Growth mindset beliefs tend to lead to more learning, more satisfaction and lower stress. Fixed mindset beliefs work against learning goals associated with deeper learning, particularly in the face of challenges. How can we design teaching interventions that encourage growth mindsets? Are you inadvertently sending fixed mindset messages to your students? This presentation will give you examples of behaviour aligned to growth and fixed mindsets under the headings:
- Response to challenges
- Success of others
- Learning goals
beliefs; socio-psychological; student success
This seminar grapples in particular with the opportunities and challenges for curriculum (teaching, learning and assessment) presented by processes of unbundling in public higher education institutions in South Africa. By “unbundling”, we refer here to the increasing presence and impact of curriculum disaggregation and “repackaging” occurring as a consequence of growing marketisation and digitisation of higher education in South African higher education and elsewhere internationally.
The seminar commences with a brief description of the collaboration between Leeds and Cape Town universities in the project, researching unbundling in the higher education space. The seminar then moves in the main to a focus on the changing nature of curriculum offerings in an unbundling landscape. This seminar offers a theoretical and analytical perspective on challenges and contestations presented by curriculum unbundling, through reference to emerging empirical data drawn from interviews with South African higher education stake-holders and private providers who ‘play’ in the higher education space.
The analytical aspects of the presentation will draw on Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) as a lens through which to view unbundling, marketisation and digitisation as processes interacting with curriculum. Unbundling as process will be proposed as impacting on – and being impacted upon – by core components of what is referred to in CHAT as the “activity triangle”. If we assume “activity” here to mean a dialectical, goal-directed, purposive and socially-situated system, it will be argued that both curriculum and unbundling are constituted of these features. Using the key conceptual tools of CHAT – subject/object; means of production; division of labour; community; rules – the seminar will offer the “activity” of unbundling as being in dynamic and productive tension with the “activity” of curriculum. The seminar will argue this tension to be “real” and mutating and will propose responsiveness to this site of contestation to be a significant and “power-full” challenge in contemporary South African higher education.
Unbundling higher education; New forms of curriculum; Online learning
The Health Innovation program within the Division of Biomedical Engineering was developed not only to train a cadre of students that think empathetically, but also to create solutions to health problems that meet the needs of partner organizations and end users. Health Innovation and Design is a semesterised Master’s level course that exposes students to design thinking as means to think innovatively about health challenges and creative contextually appropriate solutions. Design thinking relies on the user or community partner to give critical feedback on the ideas being developed ensuring that the ideas are grounded in true and lived experiences. Students, therefore, engage with community partners at critical points in the innovation process, creating inclusive solutions to health problems. The course aims to draw parallels with UCT’s academic and institutional objectives with respect to socially responsive research that engages the community in a meaningful way. The course is now in its 4th year and has covered 5 different topics with 3 different partners. Course personnel can now reflect on how the design thinking methodology utilised in the course has developed over the years and how, with the greater awareness of engaged scholarship, better teaching practices have been incorporated. The challenge has been, and will continue to be, striking a balance between the dynamism of design thinking and the practice of ethical engagement with stakeholders, while creating a unique learning experience for students.
design thinking; engagement; innovative thinking
Digital Open Textbooks for Development: Broadening access and supporting curriculum transformation at UCT UCT, like many other South African universities, is grappling with how to respond meaningfully and creatively to the call for more relevant curricula and pedagogies (Luckett Shay, 2017). Added to the imperative of curriculum transformation, the cost of textbooks is increasingly prohibitive, resulting in an access crisis where students are forced into either simply not having the resource (thereby compromising the learning process) or participating in various kinds of “shadow library” activities and informal sharing of key resources (Gray & Czerniewicz, 2018). The #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall movements encapsulate this complex set of interrelated challenges, calling for both socio-economic redistribution and cultural recognition.
Current modes of scholarly production, including textbook production and authorship of other teaching and learning materials, is a crucial area of investigation in pursuing this agenda as it relates to the power dynamics associated with content production and the question of whose knowledge is foregrounded. A significant response to the challenges of textbook provision and challenges around inequalities of representation in current forms of knowledge production is the creation of open textbooks. Broadly defined as digital collections of open educational resources and open access materials published under open licences on platforms in formats that provide affordances for integration of multimedia, remixing of various content components, printing and redistribution, open textbooks provide educators with a means to build on openly published materials while integrating a more localised approach in terms of examples used and assessment activities.
This presentation will provide an overview of Digital Open Textbooks for Development, an initiative in the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching which is aimed at conducting research on open textbook publishing at UCT, providing support to academics interested in pursuing this as a content-generating strategy, and undertaking advocacy activity to promote policy development that supports more open, inclusive textbook publishing models.
Gray & Czerniewicz, (2018, in press). Ecologies: Access to learning resources in post-Apartheid South Africa. In J. Karaganis(Ed.), Shadow libraries. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Luckett, K. & Shay, S. (2017). Reframing the curriculum: a transformative approach. Critical Studies in Education, 1-16.
open textbooks; curriculum; transformation
Background: Student success in higher education today is highly dependent on the provision of diversified academic supports created by the institution, informed by students’ needs and experiences. The numerous innovative academic support systems usually offered are based on results obtained from tests or examinations, and often ad hoc. Academic support assumes several things about learners: uniformity; their emotional preparedness to the challenges of academia; functional family support; and levels of self-motivation. In South Africa’s higher education context, there is also the legacy of apartheid, which resulted in disparities in education. As researchers, we want to know how responsive support programmes are to the present-day students.
Summary of work: Using reflection, this research considers the academic support offered to students in the Faculty of Health Sciences. We describe the administration of a needs assessment survey aimed to establish students’ needs, and their perspectives of current learning support in the faculty.
Summary of Results: We unpack the feedback received from a survey instrument. The results (n=89) indicate that students were generally satisfied with the formal lecture, computer and laboratory spaces. However, they were greater dissatisfied to the availability of independent learning spaces to practice presentations; peers to support learning, and multilingual assistance. The researchers report on the pilot phase of an innovative student support center and its challenges. Discussion: Supported by the faculty, a student support center could contribute towards the advancement of student success because it promotes an environment that is conducive to learning that supports student needs. The student resource center aligns with student-centeredness and addresses distinct learning needs, interests, and diversity of students. Student success therefore is promoted from within the faculty, driven by input gained from students and academics. However, challenges exist in recognizing the time required to develop a fully-operational student support center, finding an appropriate space, funding that enables such projects to continue beyond the immediacy, and buy-in from staff and students.
Conclusion and take-home message: Through an faculty-supported student resource center, we hope to assist our diverse body of students in their academic preparedness. Students’ success is multifaceted, and a combination of interventions, rather than a single approach, may be most beneficial. Innovation by faculties in teaching and learning is required to improve student success rates and well-being, through broadening academic perspectives, stimulating social consciousness, and cultivating critical citizens.
Student Success; Academic Support; Support System
Out the box - 8 min
“…our ‘mental models’ determine not only how we make sense of the world, but also how we take action…The problem with mental models arises when they are tacit – when they exist below the level of awareness.’’ (Gardner, 1994)
Mind Matters is a voluntary Vula site open to all actuarial science students. It is an ASSA-UCT initiative with a purpose to enhance engagement with content, raise awareness of ‘mental models’ and enrich the experience on route to graduation and into the workplace.
Mind Matters content is sourced from a wide range of predominantly open source academic journalism. Amongst the themes, the range of topics will give exposure to scenarios from our world where mathematics and statistics are at work without us having realised it. We will unpack the underlying concepts which may at times relate to exemptions or at the very least help build a bigger picture skillset and critical thinking. The topics will also open potential avenues of discussion which will touch on most societal and economic issues.
- posts new content weekly
- allows participation from passive reader to fully immersed blogger
- should not take longer than 30 minutes to read
- could take as much or as little time as interest in the topic allows
- encourages students to formulate their ideas in writing
- offers personal or group consultations regarding content (with Billy Enderstein).
Mind Matters is founded upon four major gateways to assimilating knowledge effectively and these are:
- understanding how the brain works
- learning skills
- emotional intelligence and
- mindfulness practice.
A fifth gateway is linked to the goal of becoming an actuary. The site provides participants with a quarterly report of links to all articles in national media where actuaries and ASSA are mentioned. This resource gives additional exposure to the world of work and the profession providing participants with an overview of where they might fit in.
Why Mind Matters?
This is an intervention which intends to draw together stray pieces of the actuarial puzzle that keep many students from getting ahead. Each of the four major gateways can be accessed individually through the articles posted which will also lead students to expert knowledge per topic. Mind Matters highlights relevant skills and ties them into the journey of becoming an actuary linking students directly with what is going on in the profession. Through regular engagement with the material we hope to lead students to greater awareness and better understanding of their mental models and how these can serve them positively.
engagement; awareness; enrichment
During the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall movements in 2015, we were reminded of the power of our student's voice and the need to decolonise and transform our Higher Education institution and its practices. A similar notion was ignited within me with regards to my teaching and learning practices of academic literacy and the social injustice I was potentially perpetuating to my students. Whilst not new, is the idea of engaged learner autonomy and beyond the assessment to create socially just individuals in the Health Sciences. At the time as a Writing Consultant I challenged myself to re-evaluate whether it was possible to do so within academic literacy practices; was I creating a socially just learner and providing equitable learning conditions to enable their success? How do I ensure that students feel included in their own writing and think about assessment as not an end product outlined by formulas but rather a process of identity creation and reflection to becoming a healthcare professional or scientist? The answer was not whether I could, it was how do I transform my teaching practices to enable these opportunities of connection with my students and enable and challenge them to move beyond assessment. In this talk, I reflect on my then teaching practices as a consultant and how this has impacted my teaching philosophy as a current lecturer. Points include how this has evolved to place the student voice at the centre of their own learning and how collaboratively we shape the practice and teaching of academic literacy as tool for creating reflective health practitioners. Drawing on both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching experiences, I reflect on how this awareness is possible in Health Sciences Education.
socially just learners; academic literacy; learner autonomy
The practice of design by mechanical engineers requires knowledge and familiarity of a variety of machine elements, as well as the manufacturing and assembly techniques used to build these and other parts into more complex machines and consumer products. Students in the UCT Mechanical Engineering program are first formally introduced to basic machine components, their functioning and the theory related to their selection in a second year core course. This course is being revised, as part of the larger department curriculum revision, to better address the areas where our current student intake is struggling.
In the (not recent) past, students entering mechanical engineering studies often had significant hands on experience with mechanical components. This experience was gained either formally, for example via metal work or carpentry classes in school, or informally such as assisting with household maintenance or tinkering with vehicles. For a variety of reasons, the majority of our current students lack this hands-on experience and familiarity. Students who lack this familiarity and experience often struggle to articulate this or ask appropriate questions, out of a sense of insecurity. At the same time, increased usage of Computer Aided Design tools enables students to produce complex designs that are not practical to manufacture or tend to be extremely difficult to assemble. Students who lack hands-on experience often battle to visualise assembly processes or provide sufficient tool access. This phenomenon is not unique to South Africa. Universities in developed economies that have also experienced similar difficulties, have used product dissection classes and laboratory exercises to provide students with the necessary hands-on time with machines and build their confidence and experience in working with physical tools. Our proposed revisions to the second year Machine Design course include introducing product dissection and a more problem based learning approach. However, the student bodies at the overseas universities, whose product dissection exercises we reviewed, are generally less culturally and socio-economically diverse that those at UCT. Bicycles frequently feature in product dissection classes, as these are ubiquitous in European and Asian contexts. However, in the South Africa context, the division of students who have or haven’t ridden bicycles largely correlates with racial and socio-economic divisions. Hence an exercise dissecting a bicycle can exacerbate feelings of alienation amongst students from disadvantaged communities. Nonetheless, we are exploring different examples for product dissection that are familiar in the South Africa context, and will facilitate the necessary student engagement.
Our presentation will expand on some of the reasons why students’ prior experience with machinery and tools is lacking. We will review some of the more long-standing, successful product dissection classes from overseas universities, discussing why some of the more popular examples aren’t appropriate for the South Africa context. We will conclude with proposed examples for our Machine Design course, linking these to the relevant theory sections and desired learning outcomes.
Machine; Design; Dissection
An emerging trend in Health Professions Education is decentralisation away from the academic health centre to locations closer to communities that graduates will serve. Contextual relevance promoting a holistic approach applied to both student learning and care for patients is a key motivation.
Two cohorts of 6th year students rotated through Eden District for their whole final year, of which 8 were interviewed in 2016, and 7 in 2017. The 2016 cohort was then telephonically interviewed during their internship in 2017. Interviews were transcribed and deductive thematic analysis was conducted.
A dominant theme from all interviewees was the centrality of relationship-building: with their clinical supervisors, among themselves as peers, with mentors and patients. The understanding with their clinical supervisors was realised in the context of their being members of a small team in which professional hierarchy was minimized. The hands-on, experiential learning approach in this more intimate learning environment was formative in developing their sense of trust in their own professionalism, and gaining the trust of their clinical supervisors, which strengthened their confidence. Interns reported that they managed significant challenges well because of the “real-life” experience Eden had afforded them, and in a number of cases they were able to telephonically receive support from former clinical supervisors with whom they had developed close relationships.
Developing relationships to learn and practice as a member of a small team was formative psychologically and emotionally and a significant contributor to developing resilience, and regarded as important as intellectual preparation for practice. Critical questions need to be asked about the costs of not adopting this model, in the face of a health system that is regarded as “failing South Africans”. The findings point to the significance of psychological and emotional preparedness being as important as clinical knowledge and skills.
Contextual relevance; Relationships; Care
With the #feesmustfall protests and subsequent university shutdowns at various universities across South Africa (SA) over the last few years, the University of Cape Town (UCT) executive proposed a move to a blended learning/online approach to teaching and learning to ensure that students would be able to complete the academic year. While there had always been academics making use of a blended approach in their teaching, the shutdowns, necessitated a shift and prodded changes in academic practices more broadly.
This presentation draws on research funded by the Carnegie Corporation to investigate the use of blended learning during challenging circumstances. It formed part of a collaborative project with four universities across South Africa, including UCT, the others being the universities of Pretoria, Free State and Johannesburg. This presentation relates to key preliminary findings generated at UCT for this project. We drew on both Activity Theory and Ethics of Care to understand what academics understand blended learning to be and how they implemented it during the shut downs to assist students to complete the academic year. We conducted face-to-face interviews with 30 academics and learning support staff across the university with samples from three faculties (Commerce, EBE and Humanities) and from the Centre for Learning of Teaching (CILT).
In this presentation we report on the changes in activity during these times and various strategies and tools that academics used to continue teaching and learning activities, such as (but not limited to) lecture recording, providing off-campus meeting venues, live chat groups for question and answer sessions on the learning management system (VULA) and other systems (Adobe connect) etc. We also report on the issues raised by academics regarding whether what they were doing was indeed blended learning at all. Understanding how academics interpreted and responded to the call for the use of blended learning could give insight into how academics could integrate technologies into learning and teaching activities during challenging moments and beyond especially with regard to how they understand their responsibility towards their students.
Blended learning; Activity Theory; Ethics of Care
Final year General Accounting students are required to do a Digital Empowerment Project. This project, completed in teams of 4 students, requires students to use at least one new piece of technology, either hardware or software, in preparing a 5 minute digital presentation. Examples of these presentations include videos, animations and narrated PowerPoint presentations.
One of the chief objectives of the project is to empower students, who are frequently from disadvantaged backgrounds, with the confidence that they can learn and explore a new piece of technology, which will enable them to be more digitally self-reliant in their future worlds of work.
This project also combines digital literacies with communication and team work skills for these students.
Digital literacy; Communication; Groupwork
Role-play, in which learners act out roles in case scenarios, is used across a broad range of discipline areas to address learning across the cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains. This presentation demonstrates the development of prospective role-play learning opportunities derived from role-play scenarios used in the training of postgraduate forensic science students.
The ‘Acting’ model of role-play focuses on developing students practical skills through ‘acting out’ a small group scenario (e.g. crime scene investigator, court expert witness, professional and observer) that requires the practising of a skill. The presentation will demonstrate the various training interventions, the specific learning objectives associated with each scenario, the outcomes of the interventions and the evaluation of the student experience and its success. A set of guidelines is presented for those higher education teachers who may be considering using this active learning approach.
Bloom's Taxonomy; affective; role-play
Wikis have been used as an integral part of five of the Library and Information Studies Centre's blended delivery masters courses since 2014, with mixed success as a learning and assessment tool. Implemented with the intention of stimulating collaborative sense-making in a learning environment in a Constructivist model, their use has raised particular challenges of student engagement, assessment models and fitness for purpose. Four years’ worth of data have been collected, and a framework is being developed for analysis of the relevance and application of the tool. This analysis will not specifically look at correlations between usage and overall student performance, but rather at its effectiveness in meeting the stated aims of its deployment. This paper will share some of the experiences and challenges as well as the work in progress of the data analysis framework.
online learning; collaborative sense-making; wiki
Interfacing the call for decolonisation of the curriculum with relevant and topical issues in practice and praxis that confront students with real-world problems and allow them to learn through solving them, students of Digital Curation in the Library and Information Studies Centre have been tasked with group-based projects that deal directly with controversial artworks on campus. Tight deadlines, obstacles created by distance learning modes, interpersonal conflict, unmediated back-channels and technology-based inequities are among the challenges that have to be resolved, sometimes successfully, but not without pain of many kinds. The results of three such projects are presented, with a critical reflection on the pedagogical aspects of each and some of the associated challenges.
Decolonisation; Conflict in teaching and learning; Online learning
South African higher education relies primarily on English as the medium of education. This is a result of the colonial history of the country, yet it disadvantages a large section of South African students who undertake their education in a language that is not their first language. It also reproduces the monolingual norm and anglonormativity. This can be read as a social justice issue, since students are impacted negatively by discrimination through language. Indeed, recent protest movements, particularly Rhodes Must Fall, have highlighted language as a critical issue in the “decolonisation” of the university curriculum. This article presents translanguaging pedagogy as a way to address this issue; it analyses the implementation of translanguaging pedagogies in an introductory course at the University of Cape Town in 2015 and 2016. Through an analysis of lecturer reflections, classroom practice and assessments, it highlights how translanguaging pedagogies can empower students who are disempowered by English monolingualism and it demonstrates how students respond positively to these pedagogies. The article makes the argument that multilingual pedagogies are a necessary response to the current crisis in South African higher education.
translanguaging; multilingualism; decolonisation
This paper takes a self-reflexive turn on the discursive formation of the practice of education development. It traces the history of the project in historically white South African universities, its original rationale and how the notion of ‘colonial difference’ informed its policies and practices. The paper then provides an analysis of the ED project in the Humanities Faculty at the University of Cape Town, through a discourse analysis of the language of education development in Humanities faculty handbooks and ED programme documents. We suggest that the notion of ‘pastoral care’ in Foucault’s sense, is useful in understanding how both subjects and objects of education development have been discursively constituted. The paper will argue that the historical constitution of the ‘problem’ and thus its ‘solution’ and forms of governmentality have led to contradictory situational logics for the human agents concerned.
Education development; Discourse; Colonial difference
Journeys in Research Writing (JRW) is a free 5-week on-line course for potential or current post-graduate students from any field, aimed at getting them attuned to the experience of research writing in a holistic way. It encourages participants to consider their relationship to their research in their writing, while writing. It now also acts as a resource site for participants to use and return to. JRW was piloted in November 2015, and has just completed its 9th iteration. Through its own journey, we have learnt from our participants and been challenged to adjust the course accordingly.
The course has been situated on the UCT Vula site, and we have gradually expanded the way we have made use of Vula. For example, currently, we have embedded a Wordpress site on Vula, and run communal ‘Just write’ (commonly known as ‘Shut-up and write’) sessions over the chat function. We have also attempted / are attempting to make flexible use of the course in other ways; adapting it to suit specific audiences and contexts, such as a general wrapt-course, one geared towards a grouping with a specific interest but from different disciplines, one geared towards a specific disciplinary field, with engagement from their teaching staff, and one geared towards a mentoring programme. It has also come to offer a growing set of resources for participants to refer to in their writing journeys.
The course has developed into a site of research for ourselves, using a method of design based research. Design based research offers a means to better customise the course to particular audiences. In this sense, the design based research methodology bolsters an overarching ethics of care approach, as it takes as its starting point what our students need at critical moments of their research journey, and partners with lecturers to confirm and add to the design principles. The use and adaptation of appropriate technology thus becomes ancillary to the pedagogic drive for tailor-made interventions. These efforts to create alignment between the 'what' and the 'how' place the course more strongly within an ethics of care framework.
Our design principles fall in with the care, connect and create theme in allowing participants to connect in different ways and form their own communities and networks, travel with and share resources, and participate in flexible ways in line with their own goals and contexts. For example,
- In order to foster a collaborative environment and opportunities for communities of practice both inside and outside of the course context, we prompt interaction across disciplinary backgrounds through peer feedback, centre opportunities for communal writing, and develop shareable resources participants can carry into their extended networks.
- In order to foster participant agency and enable successful writing beyond course completion, we create resources that both align with the staggered nature of the course, as participants work towards their course writing aims, and can be used independently, outside of the course, as foreseen and unforeseen writing tasks arise.
- In order to align with diverse writing needs and contexts, we allow participants to choose the ways in which they engage with the course motivated by their writing aims, through course design that allows for varying degrees of engagement with writing tasks and other participants, opting in at particular moments, choosing to read, comment, or return to particular tasks and activities.
In this presentation, we share the ways in which we have made use of the Vula site as a learning site, and our learnings and consequent customisations of the course. We will also showcase the ways in which one vehicle has been used for multiple purposes – in other words, the various ways in which the course has been used in addition to the original on-line version.
integrating technology; engaged teaching; student voices
Have you thought about moving your course online or to a blended format? Or are you in the process of moving your course online to be more flexible? We have a panel of people (Ikechukwu Nwanze, PG Dip Disability Studies; Leanne Scott, STA1000 and Ilse Lubbe, PG Dip Public Sector Accounting) who have taken their courses online and included blended components. Going online is huge commitment and involves coordination and planning. The UCT staff members on the panel will share their experiences together with individuals from the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (Sukaina Walji, Chair; Tasneem Jaffer, Learning Designer and Sam Lee Pan, Learning Technologies Operation Manager). The experiences discussed range from fully online postgraduate programmes to large blended first-year courses. We ask them to speak to the course making process, running courses and the infrastructural support required. Afterwards there will be time for your questions on how you can make the move online. We will discuss what the next steps are and where additional questions can be directed and future funding opportunities.
Blended; Online course; Learning design
Student and staff partnerships have the potential to multiply the creative potential of these connections to bring about fresh out of the classroom innovations. Is there an openness, capacity or benefit today for out of the classroom student and staff partnerships on campuses across South Africa today?
This reflection explores the shift from staff led programs with students as recipients only to one where students are co-creators. Such an alternative approach is of a student co-curriculum that is aligned to care for students’ ‘sense of belonging’ while at university through being offered ownership of such programs. Such student leader and staff partnership connections could be guided by set outcomes, although having room for creativity. An example is the creation of a student business pitching event called ‘The Pitch’ organized by the Residence Tutors Council (RTC) with high level business judges. This results in the creation of a one of a kind event for students to pitch their business proposals or pitching of their existing businesses. Innovation & Learning, Senior Coordinator in Residence Life initiated the idea in 2016 with student leaders applying themselves to execute it better each year.
Another example is the creation of more than 300 spaces over a two-week orientation period. A technology based co-curriculum to guide residence orientation student leaders from their leadership election in September towards approval of their orientation programs for their approximate 7000 residence student cohort during the following February during orientation week. Such a co-curriculum has allowed orientation planning to proceed even in the events of students’ academic demands, disruptions and shut-downs as the co-curriculum is online. This has highlighted the value of providing student leadership with tools and coaching that allows for the development of their out-of-classroom learning, and leadership growth. This is one example out of many where staff and student leaders partner for the care of the larger student population and student leaders’ professional development as teaching and learning partners.
leadership; coaching; co-curriculum
We are living in transition times, times of tremendous change and transformation. This is a moment, an auspicious time of potent turning, saturated with uncertainties that come streaming in towards us at every turn.
Prompted by the “Must Fall” movements which burst onto the scene in 2015 and with the struggle for what must emerge continuing, the City & Regional Planning department recognised the importance of building support, solidarity and prioritising wellbeing and care amongst staff and students. In 2017 the planning department’s staff together with our planning students started what we have named the ‘Building Care’ initiative to nurture and literally grow ‘care’. A key question that drives the initiative is how to better grow warmth, care and an attention to self, other and the world that is human, humane and humble. The intention is to build a network of creative solidarity, trust and care and to learn how to become more social responsive and life supporting in our practices. We believe strongly that transformation is significantly about a different way of being together. Together we are learning our responsibilities and actions to care for the commons.
The invitation is to radically participate and to work with more depth and breadth. Attitudes that are valued in our learning environment and community are co-operation, consideration, humility, generosity, and compassion. We encourage mutual respect and listening. We are still growing and and developing this initiative and what that could be within our own microcosm/programme and seeding all sorts of ideas re little gestures and initiatives of care that help us build a more healthy commons. Our hope is that this could be amplified beyond our program over time. We also strive for an ethics of community engagement – commitment to building relationships that ad tangible value into our communities that we form part of.
As part of our “Building Care” initiative we host a monthly seminar recognizing the significance of inquiry and engagement. We invite speakers to inspire and enliven us and our intentions and to support and enable the emergence of alternatives. So far this space has proved to be an important open space for dialogue outside the constraints of the classroom and the pressures of an academic course. The hope is for this space to be refreshing and enlightening.
The short presentation wants to reflect on this initiative and share some learnings and questions generated.
care; participation; shifting
Engineering puts much emphasis on well-developed skills in communication and teamwork as graduate attributes. Historically in the Chemical Engineering programme at UCT these requirements, mainly the communication aspect, were located in two standalone courses in 3rd and 4th year. These courses were taught by the Professional Communications Studies (PCS) team housed within the EBE Faculty. Therefore, much of the practice and assignments in these courses was somewhat removed from the chemical engineering discipline. An additional issue was that the courses came quite late in the programme.
From 2014 onwards, the Department of Chemical Engineering introduced a new curriculum. Amongst other things the new curriculum became more project and groupwork intensive. Another key aspect was the development of so called strands, key skills derived from Exit Level Outcomes requirements for accreditation of the programme. The strands are built up throughout the four-year degree programme to develop skills step by step embedded in practical examples and projects where the skills would have to be applied. The upfront defined strands were computing, health and safety, environment and economics, heuristics, communication, drawing and practicals. Teamwork and social environment/citizenship were added during the implementation stage.
In terms of language and communication, language is introduced in first year for learning and makes students use language in their thinking about the discipline. At the same time language is also introduced as a tool of communication. The two standalone courses were deconstructed and the different skills integrated across the programme. An analysis was made of the needed skills (individual presentation, group presentation, poster presentation, various types of reports) and those were then coupled to the most suitable project/practical in a way where the complexity could be increased across different years of the curriculum. This now ensured that the skills taught were directly linked to realistic Chemical Engineering type activities/deliverables. At the same time, this new structure allowed us to start teaching this material from the first semester of first year.
It became clear that teamwork was downplayed over technical skills in the old curriculum even though in the engineering work environment, graduates form part of multidisciplinary teams tasked with running an operation or project. This downplay on teamwork brought about problems in the new curriculum in that students had to work in the same teams for a full semester. Team dynamics came up such as poor communication among team members, conflicts etc. The Teamwork Strand was established with an aim to equip students with tools that would allow them to become effective teams in the project space. Teams were required to formulate codes of conduct and meet formally at least once for each task of the Project (with agenda and minutes). The meeting minutes are submitted with the project hand-in. Two peer assessments were carried out, one in mid semester and the other at the end of Project (i.e. at the end of the semester). The peer assessments are evaluated by the Teamwork Strand Convenor in Chemical Engineering as well as the personnel from the OIC (previously known as HAICU) whereas the meetings’ agendas and minutes are evaluated by PCS. The submissions are then used to identify problematic teams and formulate interventions to create an effective teamwork ethic among the students (teams).
In this presentation we aim to give insight in the process of developing these specific strands and the value of spreading this type of learning out across a degree.
strand integration; language and communication; teamwork
‘Medicine and the Arts: Humanising Healthcare’ is a free introductory Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offered by the University of Cape Town (UCT) in the interdisciplinary field of the Medical Humanities. It was created and is presented by Associate Professor Susan Levine, a medical anthropologist in the School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics in the Faculty of Humanities, and Professor Steve Reid, Head of the Primary Health Care Directorate in the Faculty of Health Sciences. This paper focuses on our experience of affect and care in the context of online learning. The online space is unexpectedly personal: on-line learners felt liberated to share personal stories of affliction and of healing in the context of the medical humanities in a much greater way than students in our face-to face course. The virtual anonymity of being an online learner offered a kind of ‘permission’ for the vulnerable observer to emerge and invite the kind of affective learning that we had imagined as only possible in ‘actual’ classroom contexts. By affective learning we simply mean, in Brian Massumi’s terms, ‘the capacity to affect and to be affected’ (Massumi 2015). In fact, the classroom environment may be intimidating to many students, involving various levels of perceived judgement. Although participants do reveal their names, where they are from and as much detail as they would like to share, it is possible that the anonymity afforded by the MOOC platform nevertheless gives people enough cover to share relatively intimate stories and reflections on their lives, their values and the ideas about health. It is a fascinating meeting space.
online; pedagogy; affect
Disability evokes feelings of exclusion, marginalisation and powerless for many people with impairments similar to experiences of other marginalized and oppressed groups. Community-care workers are central to shifting the perceptions and stigma related to disability so as to facilitate equal rights and opportunities for individuals and their families to participate in social and economic development.
Many of the community care workers are youth who may have experienced similar discrimination related to Othering based on race, gender, sexuality, religion etc. Their work requires that they have inner resources to be able to cope with the emotional and mental challenges that arise in facilitating the inclusion and participation of disabled youth in their communities.
Other community rehabilitation worker training programmes in other institutions in South Africa have not consciously focused on self mastery skills of students to manage their own well-being, so that they are able to facilitate sustained, positive change in their communities.
The Narrative Action Reflection Workshops provide an opportunity for community care workers to learn how to manage and change these negative experiences. Self mastery competence will also give community workers confidence in building relationships with other service providers, disabled persons and their families. Self mastery tools and techniques will develop personal agency and well-being, help them manage their workloads and help prevent burnout. They will be able to identify strategies that can be used to remove personal (physical, mental and emotional) and environmental barriers to inclusion and participation in family life, play, school, work, community events.
The development of teaching and learning materials will be integrated into Work Integrated Practice Learning (WIPL) courses of Higher Certificate in Disability Practice students in the future. The materials may also have relevance for other health and social development professional students.
Disability inclusion; Social action; Community care workers
Divisions between art and research dissolve in praxis where theory meets lived experience, and where a particular art form, like documentary film, provides unique ways of posing and answering questions. According to Matthew Reisz “different kinds of artistic practice have become part of the research carried out in universities (2013: np). Mistry and Sakota argue that “film as a language is not only about content and spectatorship … the instrument (film) is the vehicle for and of research itself” (2017: 113). In other words, film should not merely be seen as a text to be analysed; the filmmaking process itself can be a research methodology.
It is generally understood that documentary filmmakers must complete research about the subject matter of a film they are making. It is less overt that the act of making the film allows the filmmaker to explore the world and human subjects in ways that should be acknowledged as research. Filming a subject, conducting an interview and structuring material allow the filmmaker to learn about and represent that subject and her world in a way that is different from other qualitative research methodologies. Furthermore, when the filmmaker collaborates with the subject to generate this new knowledge the relationship allows for engaged scholarship.
Three films made by UCT students, staff and alumni are used as case studies to explore how documentary film can be used as a methodology in the humanities and to illustrate the potential and value of creative collaboration between the filmmaker (primary investigator) and the subject (coauthor). They are: Jas Boude (2014), a third year graduation film that combines reflections by a skateboard crew on the violent death of a boy in their neighbourhood with explorations of identity and contested spaces; Umva (2015), a third year experimental film that was inspired by #rmf and #icantbreath and examines identity in relation to lived experience and Strike a Rock (2017), a feature length documentary film that evolved from a Master of Documentary Arts graduation film.
It’s not just the director of a documentary who is responsible for the text. It is understood that, for example, the cinematographer, editor and composer contribute to the making of a film. But it is quite rare for a filmmaker to “acknowledge […] subjects … as ‘coauthors’ whose voices co-structure the text” (Bal, 2017:272), as the crews of Jas Boude, Umva and Strike a Rock do. That creative collaboration was fundamental to these productions is signified in the films through a “dispersal of “voices’” (Bal, 2017: 273) that is both narrative and aesthetic. These films reflect a desire to “work through and understand not only ‘what happened’, but how, why and what the consequences were for those involved” (Ward, 2005: 50). It will be shown in the paper that documentary film was the ideal research methodology for exploring these issues.
Bal, Mieke. 2017. Intimacy, Modesty, Silence: Documentary Filmmaking in the Face of Trauma in: The Philosophy of Documentary Film: Image, Sound, Fiction, Truth. Lanham: Lexington Books.
Christian, Imraan & Warner, Georgina. 2014. Jas Boude. UCT Centre for Film and Media Studies. South Africa. 14 min.
Mistry, Jyoti and Sakota. 2017. Filmmaking as research: Pedagogy and practice in Journal of African Cinemas, 9:2+3, pp 113 – 118.
Reisz, Matthew. 2013. Blurring the lines between art and research. Online: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/blurring-the-lines-between-art-and-research/2002260.article. Accessed 20 April 2018.
Saragas, Aliki. 2017. Strike a Rock. Elafos Productions. South Africa. 87 min.
Ward, P. 2005. Documentary: The Margins of Reality. London: Wallflower Press.
Zinn, Jessie. 2014. Umva. UCT Centre for Film and Media Studies. South Africa. 5 min.
Film as research methodology; Creative collaboration; Praxis
The massive online open course (MOOC) Education for All: Disability, Diversity and Inclusion was developed by the University of Cape Town as a basic introduction to inclusive education in low to middle income countries that could reach a broad audience of parents, people with disabilities and teachers. It was recognised that teachers, may have specific practical needs in the learning process and additional resources were therefore provided on the online platform to support them. The MOOC focused on the practice of inclusive education, particularly the inclusion of children with disabilities, the policies that underpin it and approaches that could facilitate the inclusion of these children in schools. Each week, the conceptual underpinnings of inclusive education were explored, and numerous examples are supplied that help to create an in-depth understanding of the issues surrounding the subject. In this presentation I will share my experiences of doing the MOOC and some of the feedback that I have received through the surveys conducted within the “Education for All” MOOC. I will reflect upon how this open format can be used to develop the practice of inclusive education in South Africa in the light of promoting positive attitudes towards the adoption of inclusive education practices among South African teachers.
A key underlying concern is that teachers are not sufficiently trained to teach inclusively within their classroom-based environments. In Namibia, Haihambo (2016) found that lecturers of future teachers hold perceptions that they have not been provided with adequate skills and knowledge to teach students with disabilities. Similarly, Rulwa-Mnatwana (2014) argued that a massive gap exists in teacher education, which hinders teachers in providing quality education in South Africa. These discoveries regarding the current state of teacher education and support regarding children with disabilities in South Africa have highlighted a considerable need to upskill teachers particularly, those of children with disabilities. One of the proposed responses is to offer flexible online courses open to anyone to enrol. To inform our understanding on how teachers might respond and value this opportunity. This presentation explores how the “Education for All” MOOC has the potential of upskilling teachers of children with disabilities. Thus, this presentation has relevance towards the notion of caring, connecting and creating inclusive curriculum development, engaged teaching as well as open education practices to maintain, continue, and repair our world. Finally, this discussion will include the affordances and challenges of MOOC and its impact on teacher education.
MOOCs; Ethics of Care; Teacher Education
The Teaching and Learning Committee in Commerce is currently championing several projects designed to effect systemic changes across the faculty. These are: Academic staff mentoring; Curriculum Change; greater "real world" experiences for students within courses; the First Year curriculum and the Economics Language project. The latter two projects are also UCDG projects. We will be sharing our ideas, challenges experienced and progress to date and invite comments and input from colleagues.
Curriculum Change; First Year Integrated curriculum; Staff Mentoring
Learning practical obstetrics skills is a pivotal and an emotional curricular experience for undergraduate medical students as they become responsible for the life of the newborn and the mother. However, the medical education literature is relatively silent with respect to students’ experiences in obstetrics, and even less to the affective forces circulating in these entangled moments of tension. Expectations of joy and happiness are often overshadowed by fear, helplessness, shame and shock. Many students witness unprofessional, at times even abusive practices in our public health birthing facilities where their practical learning takes place. Maternal disrespect has been acknowledged by the World Health Organization as a global problem. Students rarely respond, feeling limited in their power to act. Yet birthing events contribute a rapport of forces that stay with students in their process of becoming doctors.
This presentation relates to my PhD research where I draw on Donna Haraway’s conception of staying with the trouble, and Karen Barad’s relational ontology to explore the material-discursive forces acting on students. By distributing paper, markers, pencils and pastels to research participants, drawing assemblages emerged that enabled affective flows between students and others.
The drawings opened up in-between spaces that revealed the affective intensities circulating in and through students’ experiences in their obstetrics encounters. Furthermore, using affect to effect a socially just pedagogy has enabled students to enact a more response-able approach to the many injustices they witness while traversing their curricular requirements.
Affect; Assemblage; Response-ability
Out the box - 8 min
In September 2017 monthly Teaching & Educating with Technology Talks (TET Talks) were launched in the Health Sciences Faculty. Educators and students are given 10 minutes to share ideas for teaching and research, using technology. The response has been overwhelmingly positive with a waiting list of prospective speakers.
These sessions are opening up interdisciplinary spaces for educators to share creative ideas, experiences and their use of technology in their teaching and research practices. For the presenters, the TET Talks offer an opportunity to showcase their innovative processes, as well as discuss and seek feedback from their peers. Attendees come with a sense of curiosity, with opportunities to connect with others, to hear, to listen and interact with new ideas in different departments thereby opening up communication across disciplinary silos.
From a theoretical perspective we perceive a movement from contained knowledge production, towards a tentacular expansion of knowledge. We draw on the work of French philosophers Deleuze and Guattari (1987) who introduced the concept of the rhizome to explain a process of starting in the middle and spreading out in unpredictable ways which differs from the dominant educational approach of linear, arborescent teaching.
Deleuze, Gilles.and Guattari, Felix. 1987. A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Trans. B. Massumi. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
sharing; innovation; technology
Language barriers form a major obstacle to delivering equitable healthcare services in South Africa; as in any multilingual country. The University of Cape Town Health Sciences Faculty has chosen to incorporate career-oriented Xhosa and Afrikaans learning into the MBChB curriculum to try to address this problem. This decision was made in 2003, with the aim of producing graduates that can fully participate and serve in the multicultural South African community and promoting better equity in providing quality health care. During Years 2 and 3, medical students attend weekly language tutorials and undergo assessment through Objective Structured Clinical Evaluations (OSCEs), as part of the final examinations in each semester. In Year 4 and 5, general medicine and paediatrics rotations also include a language component that is tested in an OSCE format. This cross-sectional study looks at medical students’ perceptions of the factors in the language programme that affect achieving communication competence in Xhosa and Afrikaans.
Furthermore, the study hopes to compare perceptions around Afrikaans and Xhosa in order to determine whether the current programme is producing graduates with equal competencies in both Afrikaans, a language historically used in higher education, and Xhosa, an indigenous language with limited history of second-language teaching at a tertiary level.
Xhosa; MBChB; Afrikaans
A study into the possibility of a socio-cultural relevant university curriculum was undertaken. The study focused on a first year foundation course in the faculty of Humanities, Concepts in the Social Sciences (DOH1009F). The following underpinnings were problematised as relevant in curriculum development. These are; race, coloniality, canonical selection, and cultural capital. The study employed an analysis of the lecture sessions, the reading materials, class survey, as well as interviews.
The study found that DOH1009F stands as an example of a socio-culturally relevant curriculum. The choice of authors who make up the curriculum; the manner in which the course is positioned in South Africa’s local context; the multilingualism; and the cultural sensitivity, among other findings, qualify DOH1009F as a relevant and exemplary case study.
Throughout the study, race comes up as a problematic concept that influences the education process. The study therefore shows the limitation of race in transforming the curriculum, while also looking at how race is still used for positive discrimination in redressing past educational injustices.
Curriculum; Decoloniality; Epistemology
Our understanding of the ways in which students learn to engage with and produce disciplinary knowledge has changed. From a focus on generic study skills, we have shifted towards an acknowledgement of the role that socialisation plays in students’ developing identities, and the highly contextualised nature of academic literacy practices. For students to be able to participate in the academy, rather than simply pass through it like dolls on an assembly line, the burden lies with educators to capacitate students in the practices of knowledge production. One such suite of practices falls under the umbrella of Academic Literacy. Text-based literacy practices form a fundamental mode of communication within the academy for the purposes of teaching, learning, assessment and knowledge production. The implication is that Academic Literacy plays a significant role in students’ success and beyond that, in the development of their identities as knowledge producers. Despite this importance, teaching these foundational practices is limited and often decontextualized.
In 2013 a literacies mapping project was conducted in the Faculty of Health Sciences which found that, although there was some teaching of literacy practices in individual courses, overall there was a lack of structured, consistent, accessible support within the faculty. While most universities have writing centres, few have faculty-based centres which can offer specialised and integrated support for teaching and learning. The Faculty of Health Sciences Writing Lab was conceptualised as unit through which contextualised, embedded support and capacitation of staff and students could be enabled.
The Writing Lab, initially funded by a Teaching Development Grant and now funded by a University Capacity Development Grant, has been enormously well-received and demonstrated surprising growth and success in the first three years. In 2015, we conducted 416 individual writing consultations for 169 clients, and 29 workshops with a total of 990 participants, while in 2017 we conducted 567 consultations for 250 clients and 75 workshops with 3308 participants. Based on feedback, 93% of participants felt they had learned something useful that they could apply to their writing, and 88% stated they would recommend Writing Lab workshops to others. What this increasing demand, client fidelity and positive feedback implies, is that faculty-based support is not only necessary, but highly valued. However, beyond these offerings, it has been our integrated and collaborative approach that has underwritten our success.
Engaging collaboratively with staff across the faculty has been central to our working practice, as we have striven to move from ad hoc generic offerings to regular, integrated teaching that is carefully timed to articulate with course content and assignments, and respond to student needs. These opportunities for collaboration have become opportunities to build working relationships, which have led to moments of critical interrogation of texts and resulted in the reformulation of existing materials and the creation of new teaching resources.
Ultimately, the growth of the Writing Lab has been about connection. Connecting with staff, connecting with each other and, most importantly, connecting with students who value working with us and choose to return again and again.
academic literacy; Health sciences; Integration
This panel with 7 researchers offers opportunities to engage with the pedagogical and ethical implications of posthumanist scholarship in education, thereby making education more responsive, relevant and authentic (the conference theme). Troubling anthropocentric western dualisms each presentation highlights possibilities for reading classrooms differently through transmodal experimentation with the data. Resisting linear developmental notions of progress, they pay detailed attention to the intra-actions (Barad, 2007) between the human and more-than-human in one literacy lesson in a Grade 2 racially diverse South African classroom. Tracing the material-discursive entanglements, the transdisciplinary reading of the data (‘creata’) includes the classroom’s geopolitical situatedness, three differently angled video-recordings of the same lesson, and intraviews with both the teacher and Viviane Schwarz, the artist who created the picture book that was shared with the children How to Find Gold (2016). The implications for teacher education and research will be drawn out. What can higher education learn from teacher education in terms of de/colonising posthuman pedagogies?
Overview and objectives
The recent ‘material’ or ‘ontological turn’ has informed a new scholarship in education to focus not only on the human and the discursive, but also to include the more-than-human, such as the material, space, atmosphere, breath and nonhuman animals (see e.g. Snaza & Weaver, 2015; Vannini, 2015; Taylor & Hughes, 2016). As part of a project funded by the South African government, transdisciplinary researchers (speech and language therapy, education, philosophy, literacies, architecture, arts) from five different universities and four continents have written a book (Routledge, 2018) on posthuman literacy grounded in empirical research and posthuman scholarship. We worked transdisciplinarily with video-recorded data from one literacy lesson in a local, racially diverse Grade 2 classroom in Cape Town. In response to the narrowing down of what counts as literacy by governments globally, our papers invite the audience to engage with the affective, material and embodied dimensions of meaning-making in literacy education and the complex and ambiguous relationships in between space, body and text. Each paper problematises the notions of context and representation with the posthuman subject as multiple, dynamic, unbounded and always in relation with the more-than-human (Barad, 2007; Braidotti, 2013). What makes posthuman literacy research distinct is its affirmative forward movement that includes desire, active experimentation, playful improvisation, conceptual innovation and non-representational readings of text, as well as data. Each presentation will give a flavour of how we have read the classroom differently, not by focusing on what practices lack or by highlighting gaps in the literature, but by a concern for doing justice to the material and discursive reality of the world humans are part of, and always entangled with.
The findings of the research contribute to the urgent need to think differences differently, in particular the way teacher/student relationships are assumed in curriculum construction and policies. This project contributes to the postcolonial literature and disrupts educational theories and practices that tend to exclude child. Our readings of the classroom trouble modernist romanticised and depoliticised conceptions of child and childhood (Taylor, 2013).
Scholarly Significance: Combined, our presentations show how the enactment of a posthuman pedagogy disrupts the western power producing binaries of self/world, teacher/learner, observer/observed, normal/abnormal, mind/body and show how literacy education can be a site where non-violent egalitarian relationships between humans of different age, and between humans and more-than-humans can be theorized and enacted. This is an important intervention in relation to the current South African national curriculum with its contradictory positionings of adult/child subjectivities (Murris, 2014), but also has wider implications for literacy education elsewhere. It opens up possibilities to regard the nonhuman as agentic and not politically neutral in knowledge-production – this includes practices of videorecording (Kind, 2013; De Freitas, 2014; Mengis, Nicolini & Gorli, 2016) and a reconfiguration of learning and research as material-discursive entangled world-making (Barad, 2007; Haraway, 2016; Neimanis, 2017).
The session will be structured in the form of a brief introduction to the book project and 5 short paper presentations, discussant comments, and time for engagement with the audience.
Education; Posthumanism; Video research in education
As instructors of introductory economics courses, many individuals are passionate about the content they teach. However instructors often do not know if their enthusiasm for the discipline translates into learning and knowledge for students. For instructors to improve their courses and the delivery of the content, knowledge of what and how students learn during a semester is of utmost importance. Understanding and knowing those areas where students struggle helps with improved delivery of the course. Then consider our very large and diverse classes, and the problem is compounded before the first class meeting gets underway. We draft our own version of the popular test of understanding in college economics and evaluate a large course in introductory microeconomics at the University of Cape Town. Using standard regression techniques, we find that students improve their general economic knowledge over the duration of the course but cannot differentiate this improvement by race or gender. We then implement a relative ranking approach, testing for relative improvements in class rank. None of the standard characteristics are significant in explaining changes in class rank. Surprisingly, we find that students with prior experience of high school economics show significant worsening in class rank relative to non-priors.
Economic Education; Undergraduate Teaching; introductory Economics
The challenge we currently have with students is the access to the internet for non-academic purposes. Streamlining and automating a process for restriction to Wi-Fi can assist in the motivational requirements in order to enhance teaching and learning by leveraging the following: i) throughput rates, ii) passing with distinction and iii) goal-orientated learning
An example would be to restrict social media domains such as Facebook and Instagram (which is not academic) through restrictive Wi-Fi and internet accessibility points. These include laboratories, computer rooms, lecture halls and learning environments.
Mobile technology and applications have shown to enhance learning. However, recent studies have shown that the abstinence of a mobile device and the replacement of a Tablet or iPad can improve learning by 6%. It is particularly challenging to be aware of what students are doing on their phones, academically and non-academically (socially). This is an integral and focal point for students with the difference between a pass and fail, between a pass and pass with distinction. With regards to staff, this can also be considered in order to enhance competencies and productivity within the teaching and research spheres at the university.
Departments at universities should submit a list of recommended and restricted domains for their students / qualifications (including Individualised restrictions for under-graduate and post-graduate students, as well as admin and academic staff). Lastly, policy amendments need to mitigate the afore-mentioned intervention for enhancing teaching and learning at institutions as well as to facilitate social inclusion for learning among students.
WiFi; Social Inclusion; Teaching and Learning
Bayesian Networks and Machine Learning techniques were evaluated and compared for predicting academic performance of Computer Science students at the University of Cape Town. Bayesian Networks per-formed similarly to other classification models. The causal links inherent in Bayesian Networks allows for transparency and understanding of the contributing factors for academic success in this field. The biggest factors of success include: Matric Maths, Physical Science and NBT Maths scores and a student’s aptitude for learning and their work ethic were found to be effective indicators of success in first year core courses in Computer Science. It was found that unsuccessful students could be identified with 91.4% accuracy. This could help increase throughput as well as student wellbeing at the University.
Bayesian Networks; Educational Data Mining; Computer Science Education
Gaining admission to pursue a degree in one of the best universities in the world can be such a great experience for any student but the uncertainties and stress that comes with settling into a new environment with no support can mar the experience, with potentially serious consequences on academic performance. This is especially true for international students and students from other provinces who find themselves in a completely new city.
The Masters in Public Health (MPH) peer mentorship programme is a student-driven initiative in the School of Public Health and Family Medicine, developed in response to calls by students for better and more consistent support, in particular in their induction period. The programme was developed after a series of discussions, including a half-day workshop in 2017 on how to strengthen the postgraduate experience in the School of Public Health and Family Medicine.
The main aim of the programme is to improve the initial ‘settling in’ experience for new MPH students in the School of Public Health and Family Medicine. To achieve this, new students are paired with past and current students who act as their peer mentors or ‘buddies’. The mentors then; provide guidance and advice on academic matters, living requirement and social issues based on their own experience to their mentee, share their practical experience on how to navigate through the MPH programme, and point their mentees to useful resources like the writing centre, student wellness centre among others all in an effort to make campus life relatively easier for them at the start of their programme.
The development of the programme embodied a distributed leadership model, where an initial small core group of students championed the process, which led to the current model of more than 20 volunteer mentors.
This presentation provides: a detailed description of the processes, with special focus on challenges and how these were overcome; an analysis of the impact of the programme; and key lessons that can guide the introduction of similar future programmes
Peer; Mentorship; Programme
The South African Multimodality in Education (SAME) group is based at UCT and brings together researchers with a common interest in multimodal approaches to communication, pedagogy and research in South Africa. As such, it represents a range of interests and disciplines, including Applied Linguistics, Education, Communication Studies, Museum Studies, Health Sciences, English, Film and Media, Art. The research group was started by Arlene Archer who has supervised many Masters and PhD students using multimodal theory and/or methodologies. The group meets regularly to discuss theoretical and methodological topics of interests. This year the group celebrates a decade of research. Multimodality can be viewed as a theory, perspective and/or method. As an approach, it provides concepts, methods and a framework for the collection and analysis of visual, aural, embodied, and spatial aspects of interaction and environments, and the relationships between these.
In this report back we share a overview of the group’s research over the past 10 years, we reflect on where we come from, our challenges, achievements, individual and collective contributions and where we see ourselves going.
multimodality; multimodal pedagogy; inter-disciplinary research
Education for transformation, social and multispecies justice calls for critical, reflective citizens with enquiring minds and a strong sense of curiosity. What kind of teaching enables our students to become confident, courageous, resilient and independent thinkers as part of a relational ontology? In this presentation we model an established pedagogy known as ‘a community of enquiry’ and offer an interactive experimental workshop which offers practical guidance for how to build enquiry based learning in classrooms.
This workshop will give a flavour of how to use the community of enquiry pedagogy. Currently at UCT, we use this pedagogy to make room for student teachers to freely and critically question texts, theoretical constructs and deeply held beliefs. We will show through the community of enquiry how to create an atmosphere and environment in which it will be safe and productive to enquire into complex issues.
Engaging in a community of enquiry requires responsive listening that normalises disagreement and a critical challenge of each other’s’ ideas as well as an empathetic attempt to understand and listen to each other. It supports lecturers’ efforts to encourage students to question, deliberate, draw on their own experience, and to reflect at a deep level. A pedagogy of learning, that does not just allow for, but appreciates that the differences in the classroom are positive, make this a very exciting way to work with students as it challenges assumptions and stereotypes through the process. This is not a simple activity, process or way of working, but an opportunity for problematising the way we exist in our university classrooms.
Community of Enquiry; Pedagogy of learning; relational ontology
In a recent conversation amongst colleagues in my department, a ‘problem’ was noted across many large courses. Where lectures – supplemented with small group tutorials – tend to dominate the delivery of course materials, students are disengaged with research presented in the class, and lack curiosity for general knowledge of current affairs, particularly local politics and news. Class attendance also is low and online course assessments at the conclusion of courses are desultory at best.
Several factors were cited as possible causes:
• Lack of reading in general, not just critical reading and reading daily news.
• Social media distractions
• Limited perception of courses that values content and outcome (final mark) over thinking and enquiry
• Sense of entitlement: ‘I don't need to do the extra things you want me to do’, or, ‘I won't need that where I’m going’
• The ‘Google generation’: why go to the lectures when everything is online?
• ‘Blended learning’: students can always get the notes, or even the recorded lectures, from Vula.
• Do we take for granted the academic language that we as teachers use: analyse, discuss, critical thinking, close analysis, and so on
There are also institutional issues to consider
• How do the learning spaces of the university relate to incoming students? While the spaces on campus have remained largely the same for decades, the student body has changed dramatically. Is this space of learning alienating?
• Have students been ‘traumatised’ by the discourses of Fallism and institutional racism over the past few years?
• What is the role of the exam in contemporary course assessment?
In the presentation, I would like to consider the ecology the education process that moves from research through presentation (lecture, seminar), consolidation (tutorial and online materials) and feedback and re-presentation (through assessment of student work). What is the relationship between lectures and exams in large courses and is this relationship at the heart of problems of engagement for students?
Finally, I will look for alternatives to ‘the lecture’ and ‘the exam’ as they exist in their current form, and consider a different way of look at the curriculum: instead of building a course by starting at week one and working towards the outcome of an exam, we should design a creative outcome and work backwards to figure out how we can best get to that goal. I will draw on the teaching experience of convening and teaching large undergraduate courses over the past seventeen years.
Reflection has been described as an active and ongoing consideration of our beliefs and knowledge; an exploration of our experiences; and, a form of purposeful mental processing. Reflection may also be used to integrate theory with practice; broaden perspectives through interrogating ambiguous conditions; as a way to self-understanding; improve academic performance; and, is also considered helpful in transitioning classroom practice to the work environment. These explanations suggest that reflection has the potential to enhance our understanding, provide new meanings and insights and to speak to issues central to the development of students within our context. The kind of professional that the university should produce needs to be able to reflect on different perspectives and understand their own conditions as South Africans. This session considers how reflection can be included in our courses and may provide a pedagogical strategy with benefits for students and educators.
Reflection; Pedagogy; Teaching practice
The presentation is situated within the New Literacy Studies field and borrows from an ethics of care framework to explore the role played by lecturers on a first year ECP Academic Literacy course in the Humanities. The course itself seeks to acknowledge students’ brought along experiences as an entry point to teaching requisite literacies and common social science themes. The merging of student experiences and pedagogy in our classroom is threaded together with the theme of identity running throughout the course. This approach opens the course up to moments of discomfort, critique and discursive gaps between the intended and enacted curriculum. These gaps allow us (ECP lecturers and students) to explore the unspoken or affective moments in (and beyond ECP) academic spaces. Using a qualitative case study approach, the chapter analyses these moments, drawing particularly from students’ reflective essays at the end of the course. By using the theme of identity these essays loop back on the course and provide a lens through which we as lecturers reflect on our roles and responsiveness to students’ needs. The chapter argues that the ethics of care approach is co-constituted by students and lecturers, and views both parties as providers and recipients of care. While the course opens itself up to discomfort and invites students to write back to the academy, it still has to do so within the strictures of the traditional academy, such as the need for assessment. The negotiation between care at the classroom level and compliance at the institutional level thus forms the backdrop against which we critically view our identities through the gaze of our students.
Ethics of care; discomfort; reflective essays
The objective of this paper is to pose a critical decolonising question regarding the deficits and assumptions in architectural theory and pedagogy in South African in order to give staff and students the tools to reinsert missing African examples and silenced histories into the architectural canon and curriculum.
At the UCT School of Architecture, curriculum changes over the last decade have been dominated by cultural studies and academic development programmes to make the course more relevant for steadily increasing numbers of black students, for whom “the shoe does not fit”. However, significant curriculum restructuring has not taken place in architecture partly as a result of a colonially entrenched western canon, major challenges for departments in sourcing relevant materials to bring into the curriculum, and the difficulty of finding staff with the capacity to shape change in favour of the needs of African students.
The #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall movements prompted a distinct wave of decolonising policy statements from UCT, indicating a key shift in emphasis towards radical interventions in departments intended to address significant changes in student demographics (thus also changing the cultural capital and economic base of the student body). The outcomes of these interventions include changing staff demographic and more actively reimagined and pedagogical reworking of courses, which contribute towards a decolonised curriculum, characterised by greater equity and inclusivity.
The paper discusses the UCT School of Architecture’s staff demographics changes and reworking of the curriculum by critically assessing what and how architectural history should be taught in our first year History and Theory of Architecture Survey Course, with reference to practice developed in different parts of the world.
history and pedagogy; western canon; radical intervention
Mentoring has in recent years emerged as a common intervention to assist under prepared and overwhelmed first year students in transitioning to university. The traditional model which is somewhat “unstructured”, has a senior student or academic offering periodic mentoring support at some initially unspecified but mutually agreed time, taking the form of some open ended discussion with an individual or small group of students. This approach appears to largely fail for a host of reasons, primarily due to the lack of structure it is easy to postpone or not have meetings. Some other reasons for failure include unless there is a “connection” between mentors and mentees discussion fades, and mentees often don’t understand or can’t articulate the problems they’re having or are shy to talk about their issues. A solution to these problems is having a more “structured” approach to mentoring, which makes a suitable venue available where mentoring can happen, allocates designated time slots which mentees sign up for and has a somewhat structured programme which builds skills and coping mechanisms, e.g. goal setting, time management, self-discipline/regulation and overall wellbeing, also giving mentors and mentees something to talk about. This structured approach can yield some minor improvements in terms of mentee engagement. A new approach currently being proposed is being evaluated as part of a research study and could be considered “blended” mentoring. It involves an e-mentoring system, integrated into Vula, which supports face-to-face sessions. It includes gamification features to incentivise students’ participation and also social media features to increase sense of belonging. This blended approach is also flexible allowing students to engage the mentorship programme at whatever level they feel comfortable. So some students may want the complete experience, which includes face-to-face sessions, whereas other students may just want to access the resources online to learn useful skills and coping mechanisms, and still other students may just want to contact a mentor online when they have a particular query. It is hoped that this blended approach will increase mentorship programme participation and engagement, have a positive impact on students’ first year experience and ultimately on their academic careers.
Mentoring; First Year Experience; Gamification
Scientists have always made use chalkboards to work collaboratively, but the UCT Physics Department has taken this to full scale, with whiteboard tutorials for all its students from first year (comprising around 1400 students) to honours. During a 2-hour tutorial, students work in groups of three at a whiteboard on previously unseen problems, while the lecturer and some post-grad students circulate to deal with queries and check solutions. This means that even in courses which have lectures of 300 students, students have the opportunity to interact three-to-one with the lecturer. Other departments in the Faculty of Science have also adopted this approach in some courses. Students typically rate this activity more highly than any other as helpful for their learning of physics. American research indicates that interactive teaching strategies such as this work better for all physics students, but particularly for female and minority students. The question we ask here is to what extent whiteboard tutorials have the potential to contribute to transformation. For this presentation, we draw on quantitative and qualitative data collected in the department. A survey instrument was designed to elicit students’ preferences and behaviour in whiteboard tutorials. The survey was used to collect data in one first year course. The analysis shows some demographic differences in students’ preferences and self-reported behaviour. A particular issue is demographic differences in the ways in which students perceive other students treat them. We discuss the pros and cons of allocating students to groups, and the different ways in which it can be done. We conclude that, while whiteboard tutorials have potential, there are aspects which need to be carefully managed if they are to contribute to transformation.
interactive teaching strategies; transformation; whiteboard tutorials
There exists a significant power differential between the discipline of physics and first year students who fail their first university physics test, and are moved to the physics course in the Science Extended Degree Programme. Student in a position of low power are expected to produce texts which require students’ voice, such as laboratory reports and problem solutions. Thus, in teaching this course, I aim to lessen the power differential, through the ways in which I position both physics and the students. In this presentation, I analyse the activities of the first module of the course using Hayward’s notion of power as social boundaries on behaviour, derived from Foucault. Beginning students typically view physics as ‘facts about the world’ which the student is required to recall, and a set of equations for doing calculations. The analysis shows how the boundary of physics’ behaviours is shrunk from declaring ‘truth’ to generating a set of imperfect models of the complexity of nature, one of many ways of making sense of reality. The student’s boundary is shifted so that they are no longer only a consumer of physics but also one who can generate and use empirical data to comment on the veracity of a physics model in a particular situation. There are also boundaries on a physics lecturer’s behaviour, although the positioning in an extended courses opens up possibilities which can be negotiated. The analysis shows up some contradictions and disjunctures in the process of trying to reposition students and physics.
power; positioning; extended curriculum
Out the box – 8 min
In developing countries there are few transplant programs and insufficient resources to help educate the doctors who are relied upon to identify, refer, and manage donors while communicating with a grieving family. Online education platforms offer a method of teaching medical professionals and the public on a large scale about deceased organ donation best practices.
A 4 week curriculum was constructed with a multiple choice assessment at the end of each week. Content was delivered each week through a series of short videos each between 3 - 10 minutes
Reinforcement of learning points was made through regular practice quizzes which gave feedback on all answers. An honours track was added with peer reviewed assignments on “How to break bad news” and “How to improve your local organ donation system”.
The course was aimed at medical undergraduates completing their final years of training and qualified health professionals looking to learn more about deceased donation. The course was made available on the Coursera platform (https://www.coursera.org/learn/organ-donation) with a new course running every 4 weeks. Participants earn a course completion certificate by passing all graded assessments and either paying a fee or by applying for financial aid to have the fee waived. Discussion forums were moderated by transplant coordinators and the lead academic.
Data were analysed over a 4 month period from July to November 2017 reviewing the demographics, location, gender, age, education and employment status of the course participants as well as the sign up and completion rate and course rating.
Results and Discussion:
A total of 53 videos, 13 practice quizzes and 4 graded quizzes were created together with 2 peer reviewed assignments. A total of 1537 people viewed the welcome page with 563 signing up for the course. The largest number of participants came from the United States with 21%, followed by South Africa 14%, India 9.5% and Egypt 5.2%. Over half (53%) of participants were not formally studying and 21% of participants were unemployed at the time of completing the course.
Of those 563 signing up for the course 268 went on to view at least one video. A total of 52 participants completed the whole course earning a completion certificate. Of these 36 applied for and received financial aid and 16 paid the course fee. The overall rating of the course on Coursera is 4.8 out of 5 based on 17 reviews.
Organ donor education projects using massive open online learning platforms offer an effective means to reach a potentially large audience. This course focused on the science behind organ donation, the ethics and the practicalities of the process with an acceptable completion rate. Marketing support is required.
E-learning; MOOC; Curriculum
Against the backdrop of a surge in student protests spurred by the high and escalating costs of studying at South African universities, a widespread interest has developed around issues of funding and financing of higher education studies in South Africa. The current hot topic is whether the government can afford to sustain its new policy of free higher education for families with incomes below R350 000 and the impact this financing will have on student success. While the policy will bring relief to those affected, it is still unclear whether the availability of financial aid from government and other sources of finance is sufficient to cover all students in need or whether students will need to seek finance privately from other institutions such as banks and/or family members. In addition, students already within the system have accumulated debt and there are no immediate plans for this debt to be cleared.
The student protests highlight the reality that many students in tertiary institutions struggle with the high costs associated with studying and are burdened by their debt levels. It is also evident that the socio-economic impact of such debt will affect students not only during their studies but beyond their tertiary years, especially in their future economic decisions. There is however, little empirical research on the level and sources of student debt and its subsequent consequences in South Africa. While institutions of higher learning are able to determine the amount students owe the university from student records, this is a partial picture of student debt levels as students may have other sources of debt. Understanding the full level of student indebtedness, therefore necessitates some form of information gathering from the students themselves.
The recent fee crisis faced by universities has necessitated leaders of higher education institutions to explore solutions to the crisis. However, there is a lack of understanding about the amount of debt students incur and the sources of funding they use. Therefore, this study attempts to determine the full burden of debt that students bear whilst attaining a tertiary qualification. Understanding the financial situations of students and graduates is essential for effective development of university and national government education policy.
The main objective of the project is to investigate how students finance their education so as to gather the information to inform planning and policy decision making. The specific aims of the survey are to investigate:
• What are the costs of studying at UCT?
• What are the various sources of financing that students’ use?
• What are the implications of different funding sources for debt accumulation?
• To what extent are there variations between different categories of students?
• And, are there different educational trajectories for students funded from different sources and/or with different levels of debt?
A survey in the form of an online questionnaire will be administered in May 2018 to the whole student population, consisting of undergraduate and post graduate students who are currently studying at the University of Cape Town (UCT). The application for ethics approval involving humans has been arranged through University protocols.
Data collected from the survey will be cleaned and analysed to determine the financial situation of students and the relationships between demographic characteristics of students and debt descriptively and using regression methods. Further, by linking the survey results to the UCT institutional data on students’ performance, the relationship between the level of debt and academic success will be investigated.
Data will be collected during the month of June and analysed thereafter. Results will thus be available at the time of the conference.
Student indebtedness; Academic success; Survey data
In recent years, South African higher education institutions have consistently reported considerably low postgraduate throughput rates. It has thus become increasingly important to investigate what factors contribute to the academic success of postgraduate students. To this end, the researcher sought to examine the relationships between Psychological Capital (PsyCap) (the composite construct and its individual dimensions) academic engagement and academic performance. Age, gender and previous performance were included as covariates of academic performance. Moreover, she assessed whether PsyCap was a stronger predictor of academic engagement and performance than hope, self-efficacy, resilience and optimism respectively. Postgraduate students in a South African university participated in the self-report survey (N = 234). Exploratory factor analysis revealed that PsyCap and academic engagement were three-dimensional and two-dimensional constructs respectively. Pearson product-moment correlation showed that PsyCap, hope, self-efficacy and optimistic-resilience were positively related to academic engagement. PsyCap, its individual dimensions (barring optimistic-resilience) and academic engagement additionally shared a positive relationship with academic performance. However, multiple regression analysis indicated that, when controlling for the covariates, only hope was a statistically significant psychological predictor of academic performance. Gender and previous academic performance were also consistently shown to uniquely predict academic performance. Suggestions for future research and the implications, theoretical as well as practical, are presented.
hope; performance; academic engagement
In this article we analyse student responses to multilingual tutorials offered by School of Economics at the University of Cape Town. We consider the role of language and translanguaging practices in tertiary education as a tool of learning and decolonisation, and ultimately an important contributor to be harnessed in improving the tertiary education outcomes of first language speakers of African languages.
Although our sample is small, the data collected is significant in that it suggests that while some students may be unaware that language is a critical factor for their academic success, others are mindful that their understanding of concepts is often limited by terminology and discourses that do not include their ‘everyday language’. Having an insight into what this ‘everyday’ language entails for students will help inform interventions that aim to give students for whom English is not a first language, a way of feeling linguistically ‘normal’ as one student put it.
In order to best understand student responses and comments to these tutorials we draw on the theories that break away from viewing languages as ’separate and bounded entities’ (Jørgensen, Møller, Madsen, & Karrebæk, 2011) but rather concentrate on what speakers do with language to create meaning. We argue that multi-and-translingual platforms will 1) allow for the academic inclusion and re-empowerment of African languages without necessitating the standardisation of an academic register (cf. García, 2008:159) 2) encourage a more inclusive learning environment in which not only English has currency and 3) allow students to form their own personal construction of concepts thus enriching understanding and improving retention.
Multilingualism; Inclusivity; Access
In 2010, I and a small team started a student transformation programme in the College of Accounting to improve throughput. JumpStart is a multi-faceted, resource-intensive intervention to help vulnerable students achieve the first-year hurdle required to progress on the route to becoming a CA. We select students based on earlier results that historically predict a 25% chance of progressing, and over the life of the programme we have improved that rate to an average of 60%. Two hundred students have now advanced to the second year where only 83 would have been expected to do so without our help. The success has attracted multiple sponsors for the programme, a 2013 article in the South African Journal of Accounting Research, and some precious praise from students and—wait for it—even fellow academics.
Eight years later, I am emboldened to tell the story of JumpStart, to share our responses to some of the challenges that the programme has faced, and to offer some critical reflection on its long-term achievements. My presentation has three main objectives. One is to inspire colleagues who want to begin an intervention focused on the throughput of vulnerable students: perhaps our experience will reveal a path for you. Another is to stimulate colleagues who have programmes of their own to think about them in some new ways. And finally I’d like to learn from the reflections the presentation will no doubt generate, so that I can continue to improve the ways in which I personally contribute to serving our students.
Transformation; Teaching intervention; Throughput
Out the box – 8 min
A short TED-style talk followed by a screening of a student-created video created by third year Environmental and Geographical Science students. This contribution will reflect on how students engaged with the complex positionalities around vulnerability arising from Cape Town’s water crisis. Through the development of their videos students engaged with socially responsive pedagogy and elements of care. Enacting a pedagogy of care means creating opportunities for students to express their agency and the agency of those that they engage with. There is a need for more assessment designs that enable this connection to happen.
(there is a possibility that one of the 3rd year students could present this)
student-created videos; socially responsive pedagogy; assessment design
3rd year Environmental and Geographical Science students produced short videos in groups as part of a practical assignment about vulnerability assessment tools. The videos captured the story of one person or group’s vulnerability to Cape Town’s water crisis. Students were expected to find their own subjects to interview for the video. The videos were screened in class and evaluated by the student groups and a group of lecturers. Individual questionnaires were completed after the video project and then a practical session was spent reflecting on the process. In this presentation, we reflect on the experience of using student-created videos as a group project and learning tool. We share lessons learnt and engage colleagues in questions, such as:
- What challenge did we seek to address by using video?
- What did this shift in the medium of assessment (written essay to video) mean for the lecturer and the students?
- What did students say they learned?
- What did we learn?
- What can student created videos tell us about how they see themselves, the theoretical subject and communities?
- What can members of the UCT learning and teaching community learn from our experience?
videos; group project; assessment methods