Seminars 2012

Seminar 1

Date: 5 March 2012

Topic: Supporting Self-Study of University Teaching and Learning for Professional Growth

Presenter: Professor Anastasia P. Samaras, Professor of Education at George Mason University, Virginia, USA

“What is the nature of our progress and development as academic staff invested in studying professional practice?” and “How do we as Faculty assess our personal professional development within a teaching and Learning collaborative?” These are the questions that underpinned the Scholars of Studying Teaching Collaborative (SoSTC), a research initiative practicing self-study research within a multi-discipline learning community. The Seminar demonstrated that: teachers move towards higher mastery when they research something they care about; critical friends help in that process; enacting the self-study methodology reaffirms a commitment to improving teaching in a transparent and documented process with peer review; learning to appreciate and transfer insights from other disciplines to one’s own enhances insight through a creative synergy; and Universities and schools benefit when they promote a multi-discipline and collective space for teachers to study their professional practice.

Seminar 2

Date: 16 May 2012

Topic: Supplemental Instruction (SI): A Tool for Enhanced Academic Development

Presenters: Annah Bengesai, Academic Development Officer, School of Engineering (College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science); and Suri Moodley, Academic Development Coordinator, College of Health Sciences; Dr Vino Paideya, Lecturer, School of Chemistry and Physics; and Dr Veena Singaram, Academic in the Teaching and Learning Office

Chair: Dr Rubby Dhunpath

This seminar presented an alternative approach to conventional models of teaching and learning, which has the potential to improve student retention throughput and quality. Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a peer assisted learning programme that targets ‘high risk’ courses rather than ‘high risk’ students to facilitate deeper understanding of course content while promoting the development of meta-cognitive skills. The seminar demonstrated that SI:

  • Provides a social learning space offering opportunities for deep-learning, reflection and meaning making; and
  • Equips students with critical competencies that are required to navigate higher education and the workplace.

Seminar 3

Date: 17 July 2012

Topic: Supervising Quality Doctorates

Presenter: Professor Eli Bitzer, Centre for Higher and Adult Education, Stellenbosch University

South Africa aims to increase its doctoral output fivefold by 2025. Where knowledge production plays an increasingly important role, knowledge and capacity development for research at higher education institutions is imperative. At the same time, research is to be seen as relevant to the multiple needs of societies within a developing country such as South Africa. In order to improve research output of higher education institutions it also seems imperative that retention and success rates of doctoral candidates have to improve. One way of achieving these objectives could be to develop the knowledge, experience and skills of present and future supervisors. This interactive seminar was intended to contribute to a discussion of quality doctoral education by introducing to participants the complexity and challenges of doctoral education contexts, issues related to quality doctorates and to suggest a generic framework for doctoral supervisors to support their candidates towards quality doctoral work.

Seminar 4

Date: 25 July 2012

Topic: Student Evaluations of Teaching: Do they matter?

Presenter: Dorothy Spiller, Head: Teaching Development Unit, University of Waikato, New Zealand

This seminar explored the findings and implications of a New Zealand research study which investigated academics’ perspectives on student evaluations and the extent to which they impinge on academics’ thinking and practices at all stages of the teaching and learning cycle. The researchers were interested to find out whether academics perceived student evaluations as primarily institutional compliance measures or whether they also used them to enhance teaching and the student learning experience. The research study investigated the factors that influence academics’ views of evaluations and makes recommendations to strengthen the use of student evaluations for professional development and authentic dialogue with students about their learning. Seminar participants were invited to reflect on their own perceptions of and engagement with student evaluations.

Seminar 5

Date: 21 September 2012

Topic: Education and Development in Africa: Lessons of the Past 50 Years for Beyond 2015

Presenter: Emeritus Professor Kenneth King, School of Education and School of Social and Political Studies, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

This presentation, based on joint work with Simon McGrath (University of Nottingham), proceeded through three stages. First, he revisited some of the historical shifts in debates about education, development and aid as a way of generating key questions about the current state and possible future directions of these major debates. Second, he briefly examined some of the perennial education and development debates of the past 50 years, highlighting the very great difficulty of resolving key educational tensions. Finally, he drew these together to insist on the complexities that these perspectives generate and what this means for the next round of international targets post-2015 as regard to higher education.

Seminar 6

Date: 19 October 2012

Topic: Revisiting the Internationally Agreed Education for All Goals for Education: Making Rights Realities

Presenter: Professor Keith Lewin, Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity, Centre for International Education, University of Sussex

The focus of this presentation, was on the UN member States commitment to Education for All (EFA) at World Conferences in Jomtien in 1990 and again in 2000 in Dakar. These developed six Education for All Goals which have been used to shape investment in education and development assistance from multi-lateral and bi-lateral aid agencies. The targets were set to be achieved by 2015. Professor Lewin’s presentation explored the conceptualisation of EFA, commented on key aspects of progress, identified strengths and weaknesses of the approach adopted, and presented likely scenarios for the evolution of the goals and the framework of EFA.

Seminar 7 (Candid Talk)

Date: 26 November 2012

Topic: Does Assessment Matter in Teaching and Learning?

Panelists: Prof. Kriben Pillay, Dean: College Teaching and Learning, College of Law and Management Studies; Prof. TE Madiba, Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences; Prof. Bice Martincigh, School of Chemistry, College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science; Prof. Damtew Teferra, Director: Higher Education Training and Development; Dr Rubby Dhunpath, Director: UTLO; Dr Mary Goretti Nakabugo, Higher Education Training and Development; and Ms Kerry Frizelle, School of Psychology, College of Humanities

Chair: Prof. Mark Schofield, Dean of Teaching and Learning Development, Edge Hill University, UK

The Seminar was premised on the assumption that teachers in higher education are constantly challenged to develop a critical and reflective approach to teaching and learning underpinned by relevant professional practice, scholarship and research. In this UKZN staff were provided with an opportunity to share their views, perspectives and concerns in teaching, learning and assessment with a panel of higher education specialists. The event ran in the style of ‘Question Time’ used by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Audience members were invited to prepare and raise questions on teaching, learning and assessment to engage the panel. The panellists responded to individual questions and took responses and comments from the audience so that a lively, buoyant discussion ensued.

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