Professor Simon Mukwembi


TEACHING PORTFOLIO
2014
NATIONAL EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING AND LEARNING AWARDS


Peer and student evaluation of my teaching

I present in this section student evaluations processed by the Quality Promotions and Assurance, one report from each year, 2010 to 2012, and also the postgraduate evaluation report (Annexure 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E). Earlier in this submission I have referred to aspects of these evaluations where I saw it appropriate. I consider my student evaluations to be extremely positive. This can be seen from the fact that in all the selected evaluations, namely of MATH105, MATH236 and MATH707, over 89% of students reported positively that I am always well-prepared for my lectures, over 91% agreed that I always explain concepts clearly in lectures, at least 91% felt that I am approachable whereas over 90% thought that I have a good relationship

with the class and always available to o er guidance and support to them when needed. The same evaluations also prove that I use examples e ffectively to make things clearer and that I present material in ways that stimulate enthusiasm for the subject. I would like to add that such positive reporting by students is rather hard to obtain in relatively large classes (MATH236, 136 students; MATH105, 109 students) and in service courses such as management studies and commerce based MATH105 where students generally view mathematics as a necessary evil. Further, there are indications that my courses are popular with students. For instance MATH144 in 2006 had 36 students whereas when I rst taught it in 2007 the number of students increased to 41, and in 2008 it went up to 49. In 2012, this number rose to 104.

Some of the comments that I found extremely positive read:

Dr Mukwembi is doing very well. There is no need for him to improve.
The department needs to hire people like Dr Mukwembi.
None. He is perfect. One of the best (if not the best) lecturers I've been taught by at this campus.
Mukwembi is the best lecturer I ever fond in this University.
Dr. Mukwembi deserves an award (Annexure 2A).
It was nice receiving lecturer from Dr Mukwembi.
Mr Mukwembi is helpful and kind enough to help us resive for Maths 134 tests.
He off ers help even after hours. Lecture venues are cold (Annexure 2B).
He always made things easy to understand and he was always
helpful. The course work was very interesting as well and I really enjoyed it (Annexure 2C).

One aspect that I have found to strongly dissatisfy my students is the physical environment; some comments indicate students' discomfort in broken chairs, venue dirty-ness and bad ventilation amounting to calls to change the venue (Annexure 2A).

Turning to peer review, I submit in this statement three solicited reports (Annexure 4A, 4B, 4C) from two colleagues who sometimes act as tutors in my courses and from my former Head of School, Professor D. Baboolal, respectively. I would also like to mention that my colleague Professor Poobhal Pillay, with whom I shared the course MATH137, presented me with a trophy in appreciation of what he referred to as outstanding team-work. I was the coordinator of the course. By virtue of the trophy's size (it is a bust of King Chaka), it has not been possible to include it as an annexure to this statement, instead I only provide a photograph of it below.

Professor Emeritus Henda C Swart comments as follows:

...in my forty-seven years in the Mathematics department
at the universities of Natal and KwaZulu-Natal, I have known no colleague who
was a better lecturer than Dr Mukwembi. He is truly outstanding,
in every aspect of his work (Annexure 4A).

She regards me as having the ability to explain intricate or abstruse concepts clearly with a gift of holding the attention of a class. In her assessment of my tests and exam, it is evident that she views my questions as well designed to test real understanding, demanding solid knowledge, and not merely regurgitation of memorized work. My colleague Dr Jane Morgan, in support of the above views puts it as follows:

Whenever I've been in a lecture venue with Simon, I have been highly impressed by
his clarity of teaching, his patience and empathy with students, and his quiet but complete
control of the class. Simon doesn't make the modules easy{in fact, they can be quite
demanding{but his slow and clear presentation of the concepts means
that any student in attendance cannot but understand his explanations (Annexure 4B).

Professor D. Baboolal, my former Head of School, remarked that I have contributed substantially to all facets of activities within the School. His comments, relevant to this submission, were,

His teaching is quite outstanding. From my perspective, especially as a former head, I would rate Dr Mukwembi as one of the top teachers in our School. During the period 2008-2010 when it sometimes became necessary to replace a particular lecturer in a module, owing to student's complaints of poor teaching, Dr Mukwembi would rank high on my list of those lecturers I could call upon to rescue the teaching in that module. (Annexure 4C).

The reports by my external examiners have been invariably positive. One examiner for my honours course, Graph theory, feels that I have always achieved the aims/purpose of the module, that my examination and assessment methods are fair and balanced and that my marking of scripts was consistently fair and accurate (Annexure 4D).

Lastly, although it might not be relevant in this section, I would like to add that some of my students' parents seem pleased at how much their children enjoy my lectures (Annexure 4E).


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