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Alan Cliff

Team: Staff Development 

Alan Cliff is an Associate Professor and co-ordinator of the Staff Development cluster at CILT. He teaches courses in educational psychology, educational assessment and adult education to mostly postgraduate education students and convenes courses in educational assessment and evaluation for students at certificate, diploma and master’s levels.

Alan has supervised master’s and PhD students in areas such as the development of literacies practices in disciplinary contexts; the validation of standardised admissions tests; the use of alternate admissions tests for admission and placement purposes; and factors that facilitate the development of electronic systems literacy in the workplace.

As co-ordinator, Alan contributes to work on alignment between curriculum and student assessment, with new and established academics and professional staff. Regionally, Alan teaches courses on assessment design and academic literacy. His current research interests are in the use of theories and principles of Dynamic Assessment to facilitate student learning; and in the processes of staff development as 'literacies practice' and induction into professional learning communities. Alan contributes to the development of educational assessment policy in the further and higher education sectors nationally. 

 

Contact details

alan.cliff@uct.ac.za
021 650 5027
Room 7.38.6, Floor 7, PD Hahn Building

 

Outputs

Books / Chapters in Books

Cliff, A.F. & Yeld, N. (2006). Test Domains and Constructs: Academic Literacy. In H. Griesel (Ed). Access and Entry Level Benchmarks: The National Benchmark Tests Project, pp. 19-27. Pretoria: Higher Education South Africa.

Cliff, A. & Cannon, P. (1990). St George’s … setting the pace. Plumstead, Cape: Arrow Publishers.

 

Journal Articles

Fleisch, B., Schöer, V. & Cliff, A. (2015). When Signals are Lost in Aggregation: A Comparison of Language Marks and Competencies of Entering University Students. South African Journal of Higher Education, 29 (5), 156 – 178.

Cliff, A. (2015). The National Benchmark Test in Academic Literacy: How might it be used to support teaching in higher education? Language Matters, 46 (1), 3 – 21.

Cliff, A. (2014). Entry-level students’ reading abilities and what these abilities might mean for academic readiness. Language Matters, 45 (3), 313 - 324.

Cliff, A. (2011). Review of Sternberg, R.J. (2010) College Admissions for the 21st Century. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press for Teachers College Record.

Cliff, A. & Montero, E. (2010). The balance between excellence and equity on admissions tests: contributions of experiences in South Africa and Costa Rica. Ibero-American Journal of Educational Evaluation, 3, 8-28.

Cliff, A.F. & Hanslo, M. (2009). The design and use of ‘alternate’ assessments of academic literacy as selections mechanisms in Higher Education. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies (Special Edition), 27 (3), 265 – 276.

Cliff, A.F. (2007). Possible contributions of Standardised Assessment Tests. Conversations about Foundation Conference Proceedings, Cape Town, October, 39 – 52.

Cliff, A.F., Ramaboa, K. & Pearce, C. (2007). The Assessment of Entry-level Students’ Academic Literacy: Does it matter? Ensovoort (Special Edition), 11 (2), 33 – 48.

Cliff, A.F. & Woodward, R. (2004). How do academics come to know? The structure and contestation of discipline-specific knowledge in a Design School. Higher Education, 48, 269 – 290.

Cliff, A.F. (2000). Dissonance in first-year students’ reflections on their learning. Special Edition European Journal of Psychology of Education, 15, 49 – 60.

Cliff, A.F. (1999). Teacher-learners’ beliefs about their own learning: Impacts of further formal study. Research and Development in Higher Education, 21, 51 – 62.

Cliff, A.F. (1998). Teacher-learners’ conceptions of learning: Evidence of a “communalist” conception amongst postgraduate learners? Higher Education, 35, 205 – 220.

Cliff, A.F. (1996a). Conducting a programme of learning improvement with “educationally disadvantaged” students in Engineering. International Journal of Engineering Education, 12, 165 – 171.

Cliff, A. (1996b). Underprepared students or underprepared teachers or both? Critical reflections on research conducted in South Africa and Australia. A Round-table discussion. Research and Development in Higher Education, 19, 102 – 104.

Cliff, A.F. (1996c) Postgraduate Students’ Beliefs about Learning and Knowledge. Research and Development in Higher Education, 19, 105 – 110.

Cliff, A.F. (1995). A qualitative review of study behaviour before and during the first year of Engineering studies. Higher Education, 29, 169 – 181.

Meyer, J.H.F., Cliff, A.F. & Dunne, T.T. (1994). Impressions of disadvantage: II – Monitoring and assisting the student ‘at risk’. Higher Education, 27, 95 – 117.

Cliff, A.F. (1994). Bridging the gap between school and university study. Stimulus, 2, 1 – 2.

 

Keynote Addresses

Cliff, A.F. (2015). Academic literacies as forms of participation. Keynote address at Durban University of Technology Literacies Symposium, April.

Cliff, A.F. (2012). Academic readiness for and in Higher Education. Keynote address to Durban University of Technology Teaching and Learning Symposium, June.

Cliff, A.F. (2009). Whither academic literacy? What generic tests can tell us about entry-level students’ readiness to cope with academic study and what this might mean for teaching and learning. Keynote address to Wits University Teaching and Learning Symposium, August.

Cliff, A.F. (2009). ‘Educational disadvantage’: what is it and what does it mean? Invited public address at University of Costa Rica, August.

Cliff, A.F. (2009). Model for widening access to Higher Education. Towards the selection and placement of educationally disadvantaged background students in programmes of instruction. Invited public address at University of Costa Rica, August.

Cliff, A.F. (2008). Identifying educationally ‘talented’ students from disadvantaged backgrounds: the challenges for and in Higher Education. Invited address at University of Costa Rica, May.

 

Conference Papers

Prince, R. & Cliff, A. (2015). Data from the National Benchmark Tests Project of Higher Education South Africa: how might these be used to support teaching and learning in higher education? Presentation at the Siyaphumelela Conference, Johannesburg, April.

Cliff, A. F. (2012). Dynamic assessment: a framework for testing potential? Supplement to International Journal of Psychology, 47, 39 – 39.

Cliff, A.F. & Yeld, N. (2008). The design and use of ‘alternate’ assessments of academic literacy as selections mechanisms in Higher Education. Symposium paper presented at the annual AILA Conference, Essen, Germany, August.

Cliff, A.F., Ramaboa, K. & Pearce, C. (2007). The Assessment of Entry-level Students’ Academic Literacy: Does it matter? Paper presented at the SAALA/LSSA/SAALT Conference, North-West University, July.

Yeld, N., Cliff, A.F., Prince, R. et al (2006). The National Benchmark Tests Project (NBTP). Special Interest Group (SIG) Symposium on Access and Admissions. Annual HELTASA Conference, Pretoria.

Cliff, A.F. & Hanslo, M. (2005). The use of ‘alternate’ assessments as contributors to processes for selecting applicants to Health Sciences Faculties. Invited symposium paper presented at the annual conference of the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE), Amsterdam, August.

Cliff, A.F., Yeld, N. & Hanslo, M. (2003). Assessing the academic literacy skills of entry-level students, using the Placement Test in English for Educational Purposes (PTEEP). Paper presented at the biennial international conference of the European Association for Research in Learning and Instruction, Padova, Italy and at the annual national conference of the South Africa Academic Development Association, Cape Town.

Cliff, A.F. (2002). The Placement Test in English for Educational Purposes (PTEEP): A construct analysis. Paper presented at the annual international conference of the Association for the Study of Evaluation in Education in Southern Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Yeld, N. & Cliff, A. & Hanslo, M. (2002). Broadening access to Higher Education through assessing the language abilities and thinking approaches of first-year university applicants. Invited paper presented at an international symposium: International Perspectives: Global Voices for Gender Equity, Washington, U.S.A.

Cliff, A.F. (1998). Teacher-learners’ beliefs about their own learning: impacts of further formal study. Paper presented at the annual international Conference of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA), Auckland: 7 – 10 July.

Cliff, A.F. (1997). Teachers’ beliefs about learning: a study of changes over time. Paper presented at the 7th biennial conference of the European Association for Research in Learning and Instruction (EARLI), Athens: 26-30 August.

Cliff, A.F. (1996) Postgraduate Students’ Beliefs about Learning and Knowledge. Paper presented at the annual international Conference of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA), Perth: July.

Cliff, A.F. (1995). Postgraduate students’ learning conceptions and their implications for course teaching. Paper presented at the 6th biennial Conference of the European Association for Research in Learning and Instruction (EARLI), The Netherlands: August.

Cliff, A.F. (1993). Conducting a programme of learning improvement with “educationally disadvantaged” students in engineering. Paper presented at the Power of Potential conference, Herschel School, Cape Town: 1 – 2 April.

Cliff, A.F. (1991). Qualitative differences in learning amongst disadvantaged students: implications for academic support. Proceedings of the South African Association for Academic Development conference, University of the Witwatersrand: 5 – 7 December.

 

Technical and Research Reports

Cliff, A. (2014). Performance of entry-level Education students on the National Benchmark Test in Academic Literacy. Research report prepared for the School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand.

Cliff, A. (2013). Review report prepared for the Academy of Reformed Training and Studies (Aros) on its Diploma in Grade R Teaching programme. Evaluation report prepared for private Higher Education provider.

Cliff, A. (2013). Review report prepared for the Academy of Reformed Training and Studies (Aros) on its B.Ed Intermediate Phase programme. Evaluation report prepared for private Higher Education provider.

Yeld, N., Prince, R., Cliff, A. & Bohlmann, C. (2012). The National Benchmark Tests Project Report. Centre for Higher Education, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A. (2011). Review report prepared for the Academy of Reformed Training and Studies (Aros) on its B.Ed Foundation Phase programme. Evaluation report prepared for private Higher Education provider.

Cliff, A. (2009). Performance of Health Sciences students on the AARP tests of academic literacy. Report prepared for UFS Health Sciences Faculty.

Small, J., McMillan, J. & Cliff, A. (2009) Getting in the ‘right way’: adult learners, testing and higher education. Report prepared for the UCT Adult Learning Working Group.

Cliff, A. (2009) Performance of Monash SA students on the AARP tests of Mathematics Comprehension and Reasoning. Report prepared for Monash South Africa.

Cliff, A. et al (2009) Seventh annual report to the Health Sciences Consortium on the use of Health Sciences Placement Tests. Report to the HSC, December.

Cliff, A.F. et al (2009). Annual report prepared for the Abe Bailey Trust – 2008. AARP Research Report, Academic Development Programme.

Cliff, A.F., Visser, A. & Van der Ross, G. (2008). Report to Umalusi on analysis of test-items in selected Senior Certificate examination papers February 2008. AARP Research Report, Academic Development Programme.

Pitoniak, M.J., Cliff, A.F. & Yeld, N. (2008). Technical report on the Standard Setting Process for Higher Education South Africa’s National Benchmark Tests – Academic Literacy Test. ETS and CHED Joint Research Report, ETS and University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A.F. & Newton, R. (2008). The National Benchmark Tests Project Academic Literacy Test. Progress report to HEADS August 2008. AARP Research Report, Academic Development Programme.

Cliff, A.F., Visser, A. & Van der Ross, G. (2008). AARP test scores and student admissions and progression. Research report prepared for the Admissions and Progression Committee, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A.F. et al (2008). Annual report prepared for the Abe Bailey Trust – 2007. AARP Research Report, Academic Development Programme.

Cliff, A.F., Visser, A. & Van der Ross, G. (2007). Annual report prepared for the Abe Bailey Trust – 2006. AARP Research Report, Academic Development Programme.

Cliff, A.F. et al (2007). The National Benchmark Tests Project. Report on Item Development and Item Tryouts. February 2007. Centre for Higher Education Development, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A.F. (2007). Scimathus 2006 Students’ Performance on the AARP Tests. AARP Research Report, Academic Development Programme.

Cliff, A.F. (2007). Evaluation of the Media Production Unit in the Fundani Centre for Higher Education Development. Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). Report of external evaluator prepared for the Executive Management of the CPUT, August 2007.

Cliff, A.F. & Ramaboa, K. (2007). Research Report to the Health Sciences Consortium. AARP Research Report, Academic Development Programme.

Cliff, A.F., Ramaboa, K., Visser, A. & Van der Ross, G. (2007). Report to UNISA on Writer Performance on the Standardised Assessment Test for Access and Placement (SATAP).

Cliff, A.F., Ramaboa, K., Visser, A. & Van der Ross, G. (2007). Fifth Annual Report to the Health Sciences Consortium on the use of Health Sciences Placement Tests. AARP Research Report, Academic Development Programme.

Cliff, A., Larsen-Freeman, D., Combrink, A. & Trappes-Lomax, H. (2007). External Evaluation of the Unit for Academic Literacy (UAL), University of Pretoria. Report of independent review panel.

Yeld, N., Cliff, A.F. et al (2007). Report to HEADS (NMMU) on the NBTP Field-testing. May 2007. Centre for Higher Education Development, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A.F., Prince, R., Agasi, C. & Yeld, N. (2006). Test design, development and implementation framework for a set of National Benchmark Tests. Technical report prepared for Higher Education South Africa (HESA) by CHED.

Cliff, A.F., Ramaboa, K. & Prince, R. (2006). PTEEP and QLT performance and their associations with academic performance in Humanities. Statistical report prepared for the Faculty of Humanities, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A.F., Visser, A. & Van der Ross, G. (2006). Annual report prepared for the Abe Bailey Trust – 2005. AARP research report, Academic Development Programme.

Cliff, A.F., Ramaboa, K., Visser, A. & Van der Ross, G. (2006). Fourth annual report to the Health Sciences Consortium on the use of Health Sciences Placement Tests. AARP research report, Academic Development Programme.

Yeld, N., Cliff, A.F. & Ramaboa, K. (2006). AARP tests performance and their associations with academic performance in Commerce. Statistical report presented to a Commerce Education Group seminar, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A.F., Visser, A., Hanslo, M. & Van der Ross, G. (2005). The Alternative Admissions Research Project. Submission prepared for the HEQC audit of the University of Cape Town, April.

Cliff, A.F. & Yeld, N. (2005). A national benchmark test in academic literacy? A concept paper. Paper prepared for the core group meeting of the National Benchmarks Testing Project (NBTP), April.

Cliff, A.F., Hanslo, M., Ramaboa, K. & Visser, A. (2005). Third annual report to the Health Sciences Consortium on the use of Health Sciences Placement Tests. AARP research report, Academic Development Programme.

Cliff, A.F. & Pearce, C. (2005). AARP tests, learning improvement, and the B.Tech Civil Engineering Project Management Course. Research report prepared for the Engineering Faculty of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Cliff, A.F. (2004). Report on research workshop on Standardised Diagnostic Testing held at the University of the North, 1-2 November.

Cliff, A.F. (2004). Report on Placement Testing Workshop held at the Durban Institute of Technology, 17-19 November.

Cliff, A., Hanslo, M. & Visser, A. (2004). Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment: AARP Tests and students’ academic performance for the 2003/4 cycles. AARP Research Report II. Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A., Gird, A. & Visser, A. (2004). Report to the Health Sciences Consortium on the use of the Health Sciences Placement Tests in 2004. AARP Research Report IV. Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A., Visser, A. & McBride, S. (2003). Report to UCT Engineering Management on Student Performance in Language and Mathematics. AARP Research Report I. Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A., Visser, A. & McBride, S. (2003). Second report to UCT Engineering Management on Student Performance in Language and Mathematics. AARP Research Report II. Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A., Visser, A., Hanslo, M., McBride, S. & Van der Ross, G. (2003). Science, Engineering, Law and Wits Plus Students’ Performance on the AARP tests of Language and Mathematical Thinking. AARP Research Report III. Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A., Hanslo, M., Visser, A. & McBride, S. (2003). Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment: AARP Tests and first-year students’ academic performance for the 2002/3 cycles. AARP Research Report IV. Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A., Visser, A. & Hanslo, M. (2003). The Balancing of Excellence with Equity: The Alternative Admissions Research Project. Submission prepared for the Mellon Excellence and Equity Project. Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A., Hanslo, M., Visser, A. & McBride, S. (2003). Faculty of Science: AARP Tests and Students’ Performance 1999 – 2003. AARP Research Report V. Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A., Gird, A. & Visser, A. (2003). First Report to the Health Sciences Consortium on the use of the Health Sciences Placement Tests in 2003. AARP Research Report VI. Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A. & Gird, A. (2003). Analysis of the 2002 (Water) Placement Test in English for Educational Purposes (PTEEP). AARP Research Report VII. Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A. (2002). A study of the quality of learning taking place in tutorials at The Cape Technikon. Research report prepared for the Deans and Directors’ Meeting, Cape Technikon, Cape Town, South Africa.

Cliff, A.F. (2002). Report on the 2002 Technikon SA Academic Literacy Test (TSAALT). AARP, Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A. & Gird, A. (2002). SATS Technical Assistance Workshop: Eastern Cape Technikon. TELP Research Report I: AARP, Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A. & Gird, A. (2002). SATS Technical Assistance Workshop: Vista University. TELP Research Report II: AARP, Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A. & Gird, A. (2002). SATS Technical Assistance Workshop: University of Venda. TELP Research Report III: AARP, Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A. & Gird, A. (2002). SATS Technical Assistance Workshop: University of the North. TELP Research Report IV: AARP, Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A. & Gird, A. (2002). SATS Technical Assistance Workshop: University of Transkei. TELP Research Report V: AARP, Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A. & Gird, A. (2002). SATS Technical Assistance Workshop: Border Technikon. TELP Research Report VI: AARP, Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A. & Gird, A. (2002). SATS Technical Assistance Workshop: University of Zululand. TELP Research Report VII: AARP, Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A. & Gird, A. (2002). SATS Technical Assistance Workshop: Technikon Northern Gauteng. TELP Research Report VIII: AARP, Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A. & Gird, A. (2002). SATS Technical Assistance Workshop: Peninsula Technikon. TELP Research Report IX: AARP, Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A., Fish, W., Hanslo, M. & Visser, A. (2002). Commerce ADP and Business Science ECP students: Relationships between performance on the PTEEP, Maths Achievement and Maths Comprehension Tests and first-year course outcomes. AARP Research Report I: Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A., Visser, A., Hanslo, M., Herman, C. & Fish, W. (2002). Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment: First-year students’ performance on the PTEEP, Maths Achievement and Maths Comprehension Tests. AARP Research Report II: Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A., Visser, A., Yeld, N. & Hanslo, M. (2002). Assessment of the academic literacy skills of Bachelor of Education (Hons) students, using the Placement Test in English for Educational Purposes (PTEEP). AARP Research Report III: Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Cliff, A., Hanslo, M., Visser, A., Herman, C. & Fish, W. (2002). Faculty of Science: First-year students’ performance on the PTEEP and Maths Comprehension Tests. AARP Research Report V: Academic Development Programme, University of Cape Town.

Valla, V., Ralphs, A. & Cliff, A. (2002). The evaluation of workplace based learning programmes: Some trends. Report prepared for JET Education Services, Johannesburg, South Africa.