Teaching and Learning Conference 2014 List of Presenters and Abstracts
Key to presentations
[S] Short presentations - 10 minutes to present, 5 minutes for questions
[L] Long presentations - 15 - 20 minutes to present, 5 - 10 minutes for questions. Presentation may not exceed 25 minutes.
[PANEL] - 45 minutes
[POSTER] - Posters will be hosted in Kramer and presenters may choose be available during teas and lunches to answer questions.
[WORKSHOP] - 45 minutes
Abbas, Naseeba; Case, Jenni
A fresh perspective on the new first year chemical engineering curriculum, from student in CHE1004W to lecturer in CHE1005W
The Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town launched a new first year course in chemical engineering in 2013. This new course CHE1005W is compared to its predecessor, CHE1004W. The perspective is based on my experience as a student in CHE1004W ten years ago, and now as a new lecturer in the new CHE1005W course. In this analysis key areas of change are identified, viz. the overall assessment model, the use of technology to facilitate and enhance teaching and learning and finally the establishment of a classroom community.
The CHE1005W course consists of four modules, each having the same structure and assessment model. The assessment model of CHE1004W followed a relatively traditional mode of assessment, although included significant project work. This model has changed significantly by incorporating new modes of assessment such as mastery tests and competency tests with the attainment of 80% of these tests being a DP requirement.
The use of technology such as Qurio (classroom response systems), the Vula Q&A, Vula chat group and recording of lectures have proven to be powerful tools to facilitate learning.
Furthermore, the establishment of a classroom community also forms a key theme in CHE1005W. During the first few weeks of the first term, the first year student advisor invites students in groups of five to six for an informal “lunch time chat over juice”. As a DP requirement students are also required to attend a weekend camp with their tutors, mentors and lecturers.
Classroom Community; Teaching with Technology; Assessment Model
Students experience of integrated learning styles for Anatomy and Physiology in the Health and Rehabilitation intervention programme.
In 2009 the intervention programme was established in the school of Health and Rehabilitation at the University of Cape Town. The primary goal of the intervention programme is to develop the cognitive and conceptual skills of students who have not been successful in their first semester of tertiary study so as to better equip them with the necessary skills to complete their higher level education. To achieve this objective the programme places a strong emphasis on mediating student learning. This study aimed to explore how interactive learning could firstly enhance student learning and knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and secondly student perceptions on the different type of learning styles employed to achieve this goal. Sixteen students were enrolled in the course with a total of 6 hours contact time per week. Taking into account the different learning styles of the students, lectures were designed to cater for the auditory, visual, linguistic, physical, intra and interpersonal learners. The course material was presented in a combination of formats. This included online videos, educational songs, group demonstrations as well as both individual and group formative assessments. Preliminary data from student feedback show that students found the interactive lectures informative, challenging, and most importantly helpful. Moreover, there was a significant improvement in both student conceptual understanding as well as acquired knowledge of anatomy and physiology.
Mediation; Mentorship; Integrated Learning
On the Genesis, Formation and Evolution of Thought and Thought Process in Engineering Design
As humans we - by definition - have no access to our subconscious thoughts and processes. At the same time there is compelling evidence that the contents of our subconscious mind(s) can actively be enriched. An enriched and nurtured subconscious mind more easily gives rise to the formation of fundamentally new thoughts. Flashes of thought pregnant with new ideas reach our consciousness. Only an alert and relaxed mind is capable of receiving signals - in their entirety - from the depth of the subconscious strata. The processes involved seem to be highly non-linear, dissipative and dispersive. Thereby, emergent phenomena and chaos seem to be operating at deepest levels. Based on the above hypotheses, the genesis, formation and evolution of constructive thoughts and thought processes will be discussed in the context of engineering design. An encouraging and refreshing paradigm shift offers itself: very often – if not in most cases - 4X5 turns out to be significantly different from 20X1. Consequences of these findings and working principles may prove to be significant for the way higher education has traditionally been perceived and conducted.
Thought; Creativity; Design
Moving towards a “thick” model of doctoral education
One of UCT’s strategic goals is to grow its postgraduate profile, increase its PhD output and improve throughput rates. However, working only within existing research training models, and taking into account available supervisory capacity, UCT will not realize these goals unless it adopts alternate models of doctoral education. In addition, the doctoral pedagogical landscape is changing: there is more diversity in terms of academic preparation, language proficiencies, modes of learning and purposes for taking on doctoral studies. Graduates are expected to have a greater variety of skills and attributes, and with more inter- and trans-disciplinary research being undertaken, there is need for greater flexibility of models of doctoral studies, and greater coordination of effort.
According to Mouton (2011), doctoral education in South Africa has traditionally resorted to a “thin” model of training in which there was no formal screening of doctoral applicants, no structured process of developing and defending a research proposal, and no required coursework. In the past decade there has been a move towards a “thick” model. The poster will elaborate on the various components of such a model: rigorous screening of applicants; structured courses or compulsory skills training; formal research proposal defences; scaffolded learning; and production of publications. The model is driven by a much more “directorial” approach to doctoral education.
Doctoral education; "thick" model; directional supervision
Using Laptops in Lectures: A Student Motivation Perspective
The "Laptop Pilot Project" takes place across four courses at UCT where laptops have recently been made compulsory. The aim of the project is to understand how students in these classes use laptops for learning in and out of lectures. The project is part of a wider initiative undertaken by ICTS which aims to make laptops accessible to all UCT students.
An element of the project was to better understand what motivates students to bring their laptops to class. Are they just doing so because they are part of the laptop pilot or are told to by the lecturers? Or do they see the laptop as a tool to enhance their learning experience?
A questionnaire was handed out in all four of the laptop classes and a total of 356 students responded with a response rate of 67%. The survey was constructed using the ""Structural Equation Model"" (Houle & Reed, 2013) and respondents were asked to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement on a 5-point Likert scale.
The findings in this study showed that the motivation of students to bring their laptops to class included to locate and use relevant material, to better organise and process information, and to quickly search for information. Many students chose to bring their laptops to class for sound educational reasons and were motivated by their own desire to develop effective learning habits during the lecture.
These findings show that students are willing to overcome the distraction and inconvenience of bringing a laptop to class, as they see the laptop as an effective tool to enhance their learning experience.
Laptop Pilot Project; laptop classes; student motivation
Brundrit, Jean; Saptouw, F & Lee Shong, C
Making art: equipping Fine Art students for art and university life
This presentation reports on a first year curricula redesign that integrates psycho-social skills into an academic course. Fine Art Foundation is a course that aims to equip BAFA candidates, students enrolled to become artists, with the knowledge and skills to do this. This course ‘aims to enable students to articulate and contextualise their own creative production’. But art does not just happen. It requires planning, goal setting, time management and stress management, self examination as well as a good idea and some practical skills. By integrating psycho-social skills with academic content we are aiming to assist students successfully transition from high school to university, retain ‘vulnerable’ students and shift our students learning experience and sense of belonging. Over the last few years we have run a separate psycho-social program with first year students, our innovation here is to combine this into an academic course. The project was piloted this year. We will report our findings, challenges and future plans.
Adjustment to university; psycho-social skills; curricula redesign
Burch, Vanessa; Sikakana, Cynthia; Gunston, Geney
Generic learning skills in academically-at-risk medical studnets - a development programme bridges the gap
Widening access to students from diverse educational backgrounds is a global educational mandate. These students benefit from development programmes that acknowledge generic skills development in promoting academic success. Little is known of the impact of interventions on students’ skills profiles. This study aimed to investigate whether academically-at-risk first year medical students at UCT present different generic skills profiles compared with conventional students on entry and whether their skills profile changed after a 12-month Intervention Programme (IP).
Surveys of 414 students, utilizing a previously validated questionnaire, were conducted on entry and at the end of first year, after completing IP. Students’ practice and confidence in information handling, managing own learning and technical, numeracy, IT and organisational skills were recorded.
80 (19%) of the 414 students entered IP after failing semester 1. Practice and confidence in all 5 skills categories were significantly poorer at entry compared with conventional track students. These differences were no longer significant once students had passed IP and completed the first year (77.5% of these IP students passed first year of the conventional programme).
A development programme closed the generic skills gap for academically-at-risk students lacking these key learning skills on entry. Interventions for academically disadvantaged students should provide specific generic skills training, as competence in such skills underpins success in a widening participation agenda.
academic support programmes; generic learning skills; medical students
Burch, Vanessa; Graves, Ralf
SOCKS: Launching education innovation on a firm footing
Planning and implementing higher education innovation initiatives is challenging. Academics embarking on such projects need a comprehensive understanding of the conditions and circumstances that may influence their project’s chances for success. The widely used SWOT analysis, with its business orientation toward identifying market niche and competitive advantage, is inappropriate for this purpose.
In 2009 the authors, as part of the Foundation for the Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER) fellowship programme (1), developed a framework to assist academics identify key factors that influence higher education change initiatives:
• STRENGTHS: Assets within the project’s organizational core. These are attributes and advantages over which the project team has control in designing and implementing the project.
• OPPORTUNITIES: External circumstances that can provide impetus to or positively affect the project. Although the project team may not entirely control them, they may be able to leverage these circumstances to the project’s advantage.
• CHALLENGES: Factors or circumstances that may create difficulties in implementing the project or adversely influence the project outcome.
• KNOWLEDGE: What is known or has already been done (literature review) can provide a rationale for undertaking a project and a solid fou the project, will be affected by the project, or is needed by the project. Consciously planning to engage them is vital to project success.
SOCKS, used in over 300 health sciences education innovation projects in more than 47 developing countries, may be of use to academic staff embarking on education innovation projects at UCT.
(1) Burdick WP, Freidman SR, Diserens D. Faculty Development projects for international health professions educators: Vehicles for institutional change? Medical Teacher 2012; 34: 38-44"
Education innovation; Situational analysis; success
Project work in mathematics for engineers
A common problem experienced by first year engineering students is that the connection between engineering and the basic science courses is unclear to them. This may lead to low motivation towards studying ‘service’ courses. Short group projects showing the application of mathematics in engineering contexts were introduced in a repeat first semester course with a diverse group of students who had failed mathematics in the previous semester. Same-discipline groups allowed students to choose projects relevant to their discipline and form working relationships with peers likely to be in most of their future courses. This presentation will showcase student work and discuss implementation challenges and benefits from the intervention, which should help in the design of similar interventions.
service course; innovation; student engagement
Carstens, Rondine and Pallitt, Nicola
Abstract to follow
What, really, is the relationship between teaching and learning?
The term ‘teaching and learning’ is ubiquitous in contemporary higher education, yet an examination of contemporary debates suggests a poor conceptualisation of these central activities and the way in which they relate to each other. A long established research programme on teaching and learning shows quantitative correlations between lecturer’s approaches to teaching and students’ approaches to learning but offers insufficient explanatory theory to allow for a proper understanding of where the value resides in contemporary models of teaching and learning in higher education. In this talk I present a way of thinking about teaching and learning, underpinned by a critical realist conceptualisation of these activities. Here, a “teaching-learning interaction” is argued to be causally significant and emergent from the activities of teaching and of learning. Support for this position is located in recent work by the higher education scholar Paul Ashwin and also in the sociology of Margaret Archer. Proceeding in this vein, an illustrative analysis is given of the course experiences of ten senior engineering students who had all entered through the foundation programme. Students’ descriptions of how the course influenced their learning point to the key role of the lecturer, not only in providing good explanations, but in being accessible and responsive to their questions as they grappled with the course requirements. In conclusion it is argued that our attempts to improve university teaching and learning should be centred on the quality of teaching-learning interactions such as these.
teaching and learning; critical realism; student learning
The extent of quality in student law essays
Undergraduate Law students are assessed in the essay format of the Problem Question Answer (PQA). Here, students are required to develop their arguments in response to a given scenario according to the Issue, Rule, Application and Conclusion (IRAC) structure. This study is an analysis of the essays written by students in an assignment for an undergraduate law course in the PQA format according to the IRAC structure with varying degrees of success. The findings from a handful of students in this study, which uses systemic functional linguistic methods, suggest that students’ success at writing the PQA essay to the IRAC structure correlates with the ability to express semantic expansion in the essay. In particular, students who expressed high degrees of extension throughout the lexico-grammar of their clause complexes had high degrees of success applying the IRAC structure. Furthermore, these had more success integrating quantitative reasoning into their essay by the IRAC structure. The findings suggest that improving the students’ ability to express semantic expansion in written language is a step towards improving the quality of students’ essays in the law faculty.
student writing; systemic functional linguistics; Problem Question Answer
Cliff, Alan; invited panelists
Can student assessment be used to facilitate learning?
This panel will explore issues related to the use of formative and mediated assessment as tools to provide feedback to students and to enable them to acquire knowledge, deepen their understanding and develop new perspectives on their learning. The panel will grapple with ways in which assessment tasks can be designed to facilitate learning, and will engage with different platforms for enabling this to happen, for example, online; face-to-face; peer-to-peer; tutorials; group projects; and social media platforms. The basic assumption underpinning deliberations in this panel is that formative assessment is aimed at surfacing – and developing – students’ qualitatively different understandings of the content and processes of their learning. If formative and mediated assessment is to be used effectively, it needs to be: (1) built from lecturers’ understanding of what students do or do not know or understand; (2) an intentional and carefully-sequenced activity, designed to elicit improved insights for students; and (3) accompanied by appropriate feedback about the extent to which – and in what ways – learning improvement has been demonstrated. The panel aims to be interactive and invites UCT academics to share their own examples of assessment practice aimed at the facilitation of learning.
Assessment; Formative assessment: Learning
Collier-Reed, Brandon: Langdon, Genevieve
The impact of a backchannel on teaching and learning in a third-year mechanical engineering class
There is a growing body of literature that focusses on the use of ICTs in education but it would appear that there is still limited research that specifically focusses on students and the impact that these ICTs can have on student learning. One use of ICTs in a class enables students to anonymously ask questions during a lecture by making use of an online chat forum. This chat forum (available on mobile phones, tablets, and laptops) can be projected in real time during the lecture on a board alongside where the lecturer is delivering their lecture – and is referred to as a backchannel. This paper will present the findings from a series of interviews that were conducted with students who participated in a third-year Mechanical Engineering course that made use of a backchannel. Along with survey data from 71 students, nine students were interviewed and a grounded approach was adopted for the analysis of the data. The outcome of this analysis were the emergence of a number of categories that described the data in question. The findings suggest that the use of an online chat environment in a class enhances participation during lectures and positively impacts on student learning during the course.
Backchannel; ICTs; qualitative
Exploring the Influencing Factors of Social Media Utilization for Teaching and Learning among Lecturers in South African Higher Education
While the use of social media technologies such as Facebook have increased among students, this is not the case among many university lecturers. Research on the use of social media technologies for teaching and learning has focused on the benefits gained by students. Findings of this research indicate that the use of these technologies for teaching and learning can hold huge advantages for students. If this is the case, then why has the adoption of these technologies in the classroom not been more prevalent among lecturers? The purpose of this paper is to develop a research model that would be used to assess to what extent social media is being utilized for teaching and learning among lecturers at a South African university. In order to address the objectives, the researcher conducted an extensive literature review on the social media utilization in higher education and related technology adoption theory. Based on the review, a conceptual model to guide the present research was developed. In order to test the model empirically, propositions were stated and a survey was sent out to a random sample of 547 academic staff members at UCT. Both quantitative and qualitative techniques were used to analyse the data. Five influencing factors emerged indicating that lectures at this South African university are most concerned about how the use of social media in the classroom will fit into their current way of teaching as well as what benefits their students might derive from the use of the technology.
Social Media; Web 2.0; Higher Education
Doyle, Greg; Mitchell, Veronica
Open Educational Resources (OER) as tools for convergence
The internet is revolutionizing educational practices. As educators and students expand their teaching and learning through the availability of free online resources, structured linear classrooms are being threatened by complex knowledge sources that introduce a landscape of uncertainty.
While the majority of our students inhabiting the open digital world welcome engagement from the web platform – a comfortable and connected space for them – many educators are apprehensive, partly due to copyright concerns. Creative Commons licensing, where permissions replace previous restrictions can provide opportunities for openly sharing knowledge and expertise.
Our poster aims to present our experiences, and to open a dialogue on the affordances of OER as a global tool for educational convergence.
Over the past four years, the Education Development Unit at the University of Cape Town’s Health Science Faculty has played a major role in promoting and publishing OER on the institutional repository. Our Faculty is producing knowledge and sharing it. Contributions range in granularity from PowerPoint presentations to full course modules. Over 80 resources have been openly published with downloads both locally and internationally. Prof Johan Fagan’s Otolaryngology books have PDF chapters downloaded at a rate of over 700 per day amounting to 250,000 downloads so far. Dr Juan Klopper’s teaching YouTube channel has received close to 200,000 views.
Uptake by students is growing as they engage with the material as consumers. Our first student-produced resource is now available as an Application for language access to improve healthcare communication.
OER; Open Educational Resources; Health Sciences
Duma, Sinegugu; Ophoff, Jacques
Smartphone Mobile App for teaching safe sex to undergraduate students
Excellence in education is challenge when the youth is still faced with the challenges of HIV infection and unplanned pregnancy. Prevention methods that promote access and privacy to learn about safe sex and the prevention of HIV and unplanned pregnancy are needed to reach out to the techno-savvy generation.
The purpose of the project was to design and implement a student-driven teaching strategy that could reach out to many undergraduate students about safe sex and the prevention of HIV/AIDS and unplanned pregnancy.
A sample of 23 mentors in one of the university’s residence was recruited and participated in the development phase of the project. A series of interactive and specialists facilitated workshops, debriefing and reflection sessions on different safe sex methods were held between February and May 2014. The knowledge gained from the workshops was then translated into simple written notes. Pictures and video-clips were used to develop a UCT Safe Sex Mobile Application (App) for smartphone users in partnership with the UCT Samsung Innovation Laboratory.
The UCT Safe Sex Mobile App for Smartphone users was launched in May 2014. It could be accessed by all Smartphone users on google.play. The UCT Safe Sex Mobile App received over 1000 downloads in one month from the date of its launch. This indicates the amount of students who were learning about safe sex using the Smartphone Mobile App.
This paper will present the Mobile App development process and the Smartphone user’s experiences on their use of the Mobile App.
Smartphone Mobile Application; safe sex; student-driven teaching strategy
Favish, Judith; Ngcelwane, Sonwabo
Promoting teaching forms of engaged scholarship
Over the years the annual Social Responsiveness (SR) reports have profiled research related forms of engagement to showcase innovative and multiple ways in which academics were drawing on their scholarly expertise and engaging with external constituencies to grapple with the socio-economic challenges of a developing country. In May 2013 the University Social Responsiveness Committee (USRC) took a decision to make teaching forms of engaged scholarship the focus of the 2012 Social Responsiveness Report. In deciding to focus on teaching forms of engaged scholarship, the Committee took account of the fact that through innovative teaching practices that go beyond the confines of the classroom students are exposed to unfamiliar learning environments which imbue them with skills, knowledge and values which enhance the learning experience. The Committee also hoped that by making this dimension of university work more visible, and sharing information about innovative practices, the report would contribute to elevating the status of teaching and strengthening teaching forms of engagement.
The Deans were requested to select examples from their faculties for six teaching forms of engaged scholarship including: Contributions to non-credit bearing Continuing Education Courses; the development of new courses in consultation with external non-academic constituencies; and community based education/service learning courses. The presentation will use examples from the report to show how the academic project can be enriched through engaged teaching. The presentation will also refer to the kind of support needed to create a more enabling environment for these forms of pedagogy to grow.
teaching forms engaged scholarship; external constituencies
Frith, Vera; Lloyd, Pam
Is there QL lurking in your course? Understanding the quantitative literacy requirements of learning materials.
This workshop will focus on making explicit the demands that higher education curricula make in terms of students’ quantitative literacy (numeracy), using examples of learning materials from first-year courses in disciplines in Humanities, Science and Health Sciences.
A quantitatively literate student in a particular discipline will be able to make sense of and communicate the meaning of quantitative information that is typically presented in verbal, graphical, tabular or symbolic forms. Many students are not adequately prepared by their schooling to confront the demands that higher education makes on their quantitative literacy and so it is necessary for this literacy to be explicitly taught. Since different disciplines have different discourses, including quantitative practices, ideally the development of quantitative literacy must be integrated into the teaching in the disciplines (as is true for all academic literacies). Clearly in order to do this a lecturer needs an understanding of the demands that the curriculum makes in terms of quantitative literacy. However a lecturer who is an expert in the disciplinary practices often finds it difficult to recognise the implicit quantitative demands of their curricula (and the assumptions they make about students’ ability to meet these demands) since these become less visible with familiarity.
In this workshop we will present a framework for analysing the quantitative literacy demands of learning materials and participants will practise analysing the quantitative demands of materials from various disciplines.
quantitative literacy; numeracy; curriculum demands
Goodman, Suki; Bagraim, Jeffrey
Academic dishonesty: understanding the antithesis of effective university learning
There is growing concern about academic dishonesty at universities across the world. Recent reports have attracted significant media attention and it is now common cause that the incidence of plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty are increasing. Academic dishonesty amongst business students is of particular concern because these students are set to become the managers and leaders of corporations that could have a significant impact on others. Recent widely publicised cases of ethical improprieties in and by corporations underlines the importance of understanding and promoting integrity amongst business students. We argue that investigating the drivers of academic dishonesty and examining the attitudes of business students towards academic dishonesty will effect greater understanding and further careful analysis of the nature of the problem and the failure of traditional interventions to stop it. We discuss the results of a series of research projects that investigated the drivers and incidence of different forms of academic dishonesty amongst business students at three universities in the Western Cape. Our research is premised on the belief that a robust understanding of the nature and drivers of academic dishonesty will enable the development of effective interventions and the enhancement of learning at institutions of higher education.
Academic dishonesty; business students; integrity
Greenbaum, Lesley; Gottlieb, Toni
A model for integrating the teaching of legal writing and reasoning into the Faculty of Law
This paper reflects on the introduction of a project aimed at facilitating the acquisition of legal reasoning and writing skills by first year law students. The project was initiated to meet the challenge for many of the 270 first year law students, to master the skills of legal reasoning and writing. The paper describes the structure and content of the project, presents the principles and theories that informed practice, and evaluates it with a view to future application.
The pedagogic principles underpinning the intervention derived from the new literacy studies – academic literacies research, genre theory and multiliteracies pedagogy – and include:
1. integration & contextualisation in the discipline
2. explicit instruction and modelling
3. active learning
4. appropriate, structured support.
Central to our approach is the notion that legal reasoning and legal writing are not discrete skills. ‘The act of writing is intimately involved with the act of construing the law’ (Rideout & Ramsfield). The critical thinking skills of analysis, synthesis, evaluation, argument and application, which comprise legal reasoning and writing, were explicated in ten interactive lectures and implemented in four in-class low-stakes writing tasks, on which students received detailed written feedback from especially appointed tutors. A preliminary survey of students indicates that the explicit teaching of the subsidiary skills of legal reasoning, and the scaffolding students received in their writing, benefited them significantly.
legal writing; reasoning skills; integrated teaching
Enhancing student understanding and graduate attributes in an undergraduate accounting course through student presentations within tutorials
Graduates should leave a university having developed a number of graduate attributes, including the ability to work with a body of knowledge, effective written and oral communication skills, and critical thinking, amongst others. However, students often complete their undergraduate studies without having had an opportunity to develop some of these attributes, specifically communication and presentation skills. This is especially true in degree programs with large classes.
In an effort to address this problem a new program was introduced within a final year accounting course where the majority of each tutorial session is taken up by students presenting the material, while the tutor acts as a facilitator, rather than the primary teacher. Students are graded on their presentation skills and their understanding of the topic, and this grade is included in their final course grade. This program shifts the teaching and learning environment from one that is teacher-centred to one that is student-centred.
Students presenting material within the classroom are encouraged to develop presentation skills and a self-learning attitude, or in other words the ability to judge what they understand, and where they need to further increase their understanding. This occurs because they are forced to learn the material themselves, in order to be able to present and explain it.
This study aims to investigate the effectiveness of this intervention in improving the communication and presentation skills of students, and in the process enhancing their understanding of key concepts through critical thinking.
Student presentations; Graduate attributes; Student-centered learning
Hodgkinson-Williams, Cheryl; Invited panellists
Description to follow
Towards a performative space for critical reading and writing
Can we imagine a performative pedagogic space punctuated by instances of exploration, rehearsal, critical thinking and a possible reinvention of one’s academic writing self? This was the shape of our new challenge as pedagogues. The Critical Writers course site project, funded by the Teaching with Technology grant, evolved out of a need to create new subject positions for students to explore texts and writing genres in novel ways on a foundational language course, ‘Texts in the Humanities’. The texts posted online were aligned with lecture content, attempting to push the boundaries of what was conceivable, and challenging commonplace thoughts and concepts presented in some of the prescribed readings. The genres of writing practised on the site ranged from critical to reflective, with the inevitable overlaps. Ultimately, the aims were to provide students with a safe space to engage with content as well as experiment with different writer identities. This presentation reports on the extent to which such a space was performative, the power dynamics that emerged, and their effects on our traditional conception of teaching and learning in higher education.
performative space; Critical reading and writing; Writer identities
Reading groups in the Humanities Education Development Unit
South African policy makers since the end of apartheid have been engaged in ongoing debates about language in the higher education context. It is recognized that English as the medium of instruction in many higher education institutions in the country may compromise the success of English as an Additional Language (EAL) students, particularly those whose English proficiency is below the required levels, and that this is problematic when considering the transformational agenda of the country post-Apartheid. Alongside longer-term policy goals of developing all of the official South African languages as academic/scientific languages, in the short-term many institutions are involved in efforts to provide access and support in English for EAL students.
This presentation outlines some of the main difficulties that EAL students encounter with English in the academy space, not least of all finding themselves ‘silenced’ by a lack of confidence in their English language proficiency. It then introduces a new intervention being run by the Humanities Education Development Unit at UCT. ‘Reading Groups’ have been designed as a safe space for students to speak in, and listen to, English on campus without being judged or assessed by peers or lecturers. Early feedback from students participating in the Reading Groups is presented, to evaluate whether some of the problems that EAL students encounter in the academy are addressed by this type of intervention.
EAL; Academic literacy; English
Irlam, James; Pienaar, Lunelle; Reid, Steve
Perceptions of Agency among Medical Elective Students
Medical student electives in the UCT Faculty of Health Sciences provide a short-term work experience in the health system during the fifth year. We explored how fifth year medical students perceive their clinical electives helped them understand their present and future roles as agents of change in the South African health system in order to promote the development of agency in our teaching and learning.
Fifth year medical elective students were sampled shortly after completing their elective rotation. Data was collected from a review of the clinical elective reports of the students, and from structured focus group discussions with 10 students who did their electives in district (primary level care), regional and tertiary health facilities.
Key themes were the importance of safeguarding personal health and well-being; of providing holistic patient-centred care; of working well with the health team; and of advocating where possible for more equitable and quality health care. Responses reflected many of the principles of the Primary Health Care approach, which has been a lead theme of the health sciences curricula in the Faculty since 2002. These included the need for understanding patients’ contexts; involving families and communities in healthcare; health promotion; multidisciplinary teamwork; good referrals; and equity in the distribution of human and material resources.
Student recommendations are to promote the electives more; have more peer-to-peer report-backs; restore the funding to incentivise rural electives; and to ensure that students are trained to function as agents of change in a challenging and under-resourced health system.
Agency; equity; primary health care
Jawitz, Jeff; Perez, Teresa
Learning to Teach at UCT
Concerns about the low success rate of students at universities in South Africa have given rise to a growing emphasis on the professional development of university academics as teachers. This presentation reports on the UCT case study in an National Research Fund (NRF) multi-institutional project investigating the contextual influences on the professional development of academics as university teachers in South Africa. The study draws on interviews with senior management, a questionnaire and interviews with a sample of permanent academic staff conducted between 2010 and 2012. It presents an analysis of the environment within which academics make decisions to invest in their role as teachers at UCT.
The historical investment in academic development through the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED) and its faculty based projects has left a legacy of pioneering work in learning and teaching at UCT. Several teaching development initiatives have been in place for almost ten years. Furthermore the inclusion of teaching criteria in the promotion systems for academics has raised the profile of teaching. However academics are surrounded by mixed messages with the overwhelming dominance of the research discourse requiring them to make difficult choices if they wish to invest in their teaching development.
Teaching; academic staff development; professional development
Kew, Jacqui; Watson, Alex
Video-based mother tongue intervention
The purpose of this presentation is to show-case a College of Accounting project that aims to improve conceptual understanding of key accounting concepts through a video-based mother tongue intervention.
Mother-tongue; Video-based; Conceptual
Kloot, Bruce; Shaw, Corrinne; Collier-Reed, Brandon
The Effectiveness of Curriculum Reform in a First-Year Course in Mechanical Engineering
As part of a recent curriculum reform process in the Department, a first-year Introduction to Mechanical Engineering course was launched in 2014. This course was planned to be integrated with the 'golden threads' the new curriculum – environmental sustainability, issues of professional practice and communication – which are to be coherently articulated through the years of the degree. However, student perceptions of the course, obtained through a course evaluation at the end of the first semester, suggest that the emphasis on these themes makes them feel disconnected from what they believe ‘real’ engineering to be.
While the second semester is more oriented towards the engineering sciences, an individual survey and student focus group discussions were carried out early in the second semester to explore student perceptions of the course. This is part of a study that aims to explore strategies of integrating the ‘golden threads’ with core engineering knowledge (and hands-on practical activities) in order to improve the effectiveness of the first-year course, obviously a key transition point in the curriculum. This short paper examines these data in light of student information about their social trajectory and reasons for choosing engineering. It also explores student perceptions of the course in relation to school learning areas and the level of integration and coherence between the different types of knowledge presented in the course. Lastly, student suggestions for improvement are discussed in the context of the shift in focus towards the engineering sciences that is already underway in the course.
Engineering education; Curriculum; First year
Understanding Health in Context
The concept of walls and boundaries lies at the heart of Basil Bernstein’s work on classification and framing, and Karl Maton’s work on specialisation codes - both of whom aim to make visible the principles that define knowledge building and pedagogy in different disciplines. By contrast, the Health in context block in fourth year medicine aims to promote integration across five different disciplines in an intense eight-week period.
In 2014, two weeks of paediatric medicine were incorporated into the Health in context block following recommendations by the Health Professions Council of South Africa to strengthen primary health care in the clinical years. Yet students appear to be struggling to “join the dots” and describe feeling “overwhelmed” by “too many fragmented activities and assessment tasks” and “unable to focus on paediatrics in amidst the competing demands of the other disciplines”.
These challenges are not necessarily confined to the field of reproduction and raise some important questions around curriculum design – where intrinsic differences between the disciplines may outweigh the push for integration. I have therefore drawn on Maton’s specialisation codes to help illuminate what kind of knowledge and knowers are valued in each discipline, and to establish the extent to which students have to negotiate competing codes as they navigate their way through the 8-week block.
Specialisation Codes; Integration; Health in Context
"The City Project": Using Art Practice in a Theoretical Course
"The City Project" has been an integral part of the Discourse of Art second year offering for almost a decade at the Michaelis School of Fine Art. This is a theoretical course that requires that students produce a practical artistic intervention in the city, informed by relevant theory covered in the course. While the intervention itself does not generate marks as such, essays are set that require the students to present prior research and a theoretical reflection on the intervention after the event. In addition the course requires students to share their research via social media. This presentation will examine the way the course has evolved and developed over the years.
Art Practice; Social Media; Urban
Levecque, Pieter and the Chemical Engineering Staff
The new Chemical Engineering undergraduate curriculum: a road trip through learning and teaching
Just over five years ago the academic staff of the Department of Chemical Engineering at UCT started the process towards the implementation of a new undergraduate curriculum that would not only address the rapidly changing engineering profession but would also incorporate contemporary findings on learning and teaching in the (South African) Higher Education context. The new structure consist of one full year course per year with strong horizontal (across one year) and vertical (across degree) integration. The new curriculum is being rolled out with implementation from the 2014 intake.
As this is a watershed moment this paper will offer an outlook on the journey the department and its staff members undertook to arrive at this point. The framework was offered and taken from the requirements of the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA), but beyond that a multifaceted space was explored that lead us past teaching with technology (laptop project, backchannels, podcasting, e-books,…), ways of learning, assessment strategies, addressing diverse classrooms, the role of elective courses and many more. This resulted in a range of successful innovations currently implemented in the new first year course and to be continued across the new curriculum. Lastly and not unimportant, we found ourselves in the unique and enriching position to introduce and expose a large group of staff members, new and senior to the discourse of curriculum design and the potential and pitfalls thereof.
Curriculum; Undergraduate; Integrated year courses
Afrikaans: One language, many voices
In 2003, Afrikaans was included into the new MBChB curriculum at the University of Cape Town.
According to the 2011 census, about half of the population of the Western Cape are Afrikaans-speaking. As a result, MBChB students at UCT, in both their pre-clinical and clinical years, encounter numerous Afrikaans-speaking patients. In order to conform to the notion of being an integrated healthcare professional, it is thus imperative that these students are able to communicate with patients in their mother-tongue and at least have an awareness of the particular Afrikaans variety spoken by the patient.
This paper will highlight the importance of recognising the varieties of Afrikaans and its impact on a student’s encounter with an Afrikaans-speaking patient who primarily communicates in one of these varieties. The paper will furthermore propose ways in which to incorporate awareness of varieties into the existing curriculum.
By incorporating an awareness of the varieties in Afrikaans into the existing MBChB curriculum, the learning experience of the learner will be broadened. Ultimately this awareness will be a step to further eradicate communication barriers that still exist between Afrikaans-speaking patients and the Healthcare Professionals.
Afrikaans; Integrated healthcare worker; Language varieties
Lorenzo, T; Howell, C
Exploring the relevance of Disability Inclusion to UCT's strategic goals on development challenges and graduate attributes
The paper will provide a critical review of five year project on Disability Inclusion in Research Enabling Curriculum Transformation (DIRECT) funded by VC Strategic Goals Fund. Two strategic goals were selected as the focus of the Project, namely Goal Five: Enhancing the Quality and Profile of UCT’s Graduates and Goal 6: Expanding and Enhancing UCT’s Contribution to South Africa’s Development Challenges. The aim of the study was to determine a baseline of disability inclusion across six faculties and CHED, followed by strategies to build such capacity.
A sequential transformative research design consisting of three phases was adopted: document analysis of academic programme handbooks of six faculties; a survey of teaching, learning and research on disability inclusion across all faculties followed by individual in-depth interviews of identified academic staff, and lastly, action learning cycles.
The paper will illustrate the activities engaged in over last five years and share lessons learnt about the conceptual understanding of disability amongst academics, the approaches to teaching disability as diversity and a social justice issue, and the tangible elements of organizational capacity related to individual skills, abilities and resourcefulness of academic staff to be disability inclusive.
The relevance of disability inclusion to equip students with knowledge, skills and attributes to address development challenges inclusive of disabled persons and their families was demonstrated in all faculties by a small number of staff who have personal interest in knowledge production and translation in this field.
The need to set up structures and systems that embed disability as an issue of diversity and social justice in curricula across all faculties is evident. UCT is in a unique position to foster disability inclusion in teaching, learning and research as a niche interdisciplinary endeavour in higher education institutions in Africa.
Disability inclusion; Staff development; Social Justice
Lubbe, Ilse; West, Sumaya; Carpenter, Riley
Write-to-learn teaching intervention
Accountants in the ‘world of work’ can no longer rely only on specialist knowledge (technical skills) acquired through higher education studies. While the importance of sound technical accounting skills is widely acknowledged, employers require a broad range of pervasive skills (such as team work, leadership potential, verbal communication and life-long learning skills). However, such skills cannot be nurtured efficiently in undergraduate courses where the curriculum is dominated by a raft of specialised technical skills. It is the ‘mixture of skills’ that students need to acquire in order to meet the challenges of graduate attributes sought by employers (Jackling and De Lange, 2009).
This study describes a variety of innovative teaching interventions introduced in tutorial sessions of three final-year, undergraduate courses in the structured Chartered Accountants (CA) programme. Such teaching interventions include writing assignments for deep learning, problem-focused exercises (as opposed to topic-focused tasks), the identification and studying of errors (including why a specific treatment is incorrect), the effective use of texts and the ability to identify examples in the ‘world of work’ to illustrate practical applications.
The aim of these teaching interventions include the development communication skills, such as the ability to articulate meaning using appropriate terminology and concepts, identify why a specific treatment is incorrect, provide and receive constructive feedback, and construct examples of practical applications, to name a few. These interventions form part of a broader project aimed at a better understanding of accounting education so to inform improvements in the quality and effectiveness of the education process.
professional education; graduate attributes; teaching intervention
Luckett, Kathy; Chiang, Helen; Human, Robyn
Plus Tuts in the Humanities: Making the Implicit Explicit
This will be a joint presentation. Kathy Luckett will present a brief theoretical underpinning to the work done in the Humanities Plus Tuts based on the Social Realist Sociology of Education, with additional insights from Halliday's SFL and Robert Brandom's work on Inferentialism. This will be followed by exemplars of work in the Plus Tuts by Humanities Teaching Assistants.
ED; epistemic access; Tutorials
Designing and implementing outreach video training that creates opportunities for creative collaboration and meaningful interaction between UCT and participants outside its existing community.
At the Centre for Film and Media Studies (CFMS) we believe that we can play a vital role in developing the skills of young filmmakers, and not just those registered for courses at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Stepping Stone outreach video training was launched in 2012 to open tertiary facilities and knowledge to passionate aspiring filmmakers from disadvantaged backgrounds who are not able to access conventional university level programmes.
Stepping Stone further creates a unique interaction between UCT and participants that fall outside its conventional community. The courses provide skills and conceptual training in video-making to participants. This enables them in turn to produce video content that highlights UCT social responsiveness initiatives, including community engagement, research and inventions. In this way, participants and the institution benefit from the project, and participants take on an active, creative role rather than being seen as passive beneficiaries of knowledge.
Two thirds of the participants for each round are from outside the university community, while one third is from UCT. Our model is to include participants of different genders, races, languages and from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. We believe that Stepping Stone has the potential to provide opportunities for creative collaboration and social interactions between communities inside and outside the gates of the academic institution and in so doing contribute to new notions of professional practice designed to meet the needs of the South African context.
community engagement; video training; skills development
Maasdorp, Liani; Cain, Julia; Kane, Lyle
Panel discussion: the potential of media education as an intervention to improve the lives of marginalised youth
The proposed panel discussion will bring together three academics, Dr Liani Maasdorp (UCT CFMS lecturer, director of Stepping Stone outreach video training, panel chair), Dr Julia Cain (participatory video consultant, documentary filmmaker, part time University of Stellenbosch lecturer) and Lyle Kane (director of Reel Lives, PhD candidate: UCT CFMS). They will probe the potential of youth-media projects that are currently being run by and in collaboration with UCT Centre for Film and Media Studies.
Though the three case studies that will be discussed differ in content, focus and duration, all the programs set out to achieve three primary goals, namely to (1) facilitate the acquisition of “hard” vocational skills in media production; (2) develop “soft” skills in self-confidence, recovery from trauma, and socialisation; and (3) use the pieces of media that participants create as advocacy and educational tools.
The discussion will explore philosophical and conceptual challenges associated with the dynamics of community engagement and participation. We hope to contribute to knowledge about how to design and implement skills training projects that respond to community needs, foster creative cooperation and social interaction between communities and contribute to the production of media products that can play a powerful role in cross-cultural visual communication.
We hope, through the discussion, to highlight existing forms of engagement, compare conceptual models for community engagement within this particular field and generate guidelines and ethical practices that reflect the complexity and value of interactions between educational structures and communities that normally can not access them.
Youth media; Community engagement; Video skills training
Translanguaging as a valid (classroom) discursive practice for teaching and learning in multilingual contexts
The language practices of multilingual speakers in learning and teaching situations have in the last few years become the focus of many studies. Different terms have been used to denote such discursive practices in which speakers draw from two or more languages or linguistic resources. Recently, the term 'translanguaging' has been proposed by scholars such as Lewis, Jones & Baker (2012), Canagarajah (2011); Creese & Blackledge (2010), Garcia (2009, 2013), Williams (1996, 2002, 2003). The question of central importance to this presentation, is whether translanguaging discursive practice is conducive to effective teaching and learning at university level. In addressing this question. It is the argument of this paper that bi/multilingual students' learning is maximazed when they are allowed to use translanguaging. To support this argument, I will draw insight from the multilingual tutorials that are being piloted by the Multilingualism Education Education project at the University of Cape Town.
Translanguaging; Discursive practices; Multilingual learner
Wake Up, Paulo Friere
The paper will attempt to show that when working with adults who find themselves in conditions of poverty, conscientisation is as important as content in teaching methodology. The intention is to shift learners from disillusionment and despair to activism and interaction, in order to address the social problems that they encounter daily.
Health Committee Training seeks to skill and support community members with the knowledge and experience required to effectively facilitate a human rights culture at health facilities in the Cape Metropole.
South African institutions generally struggle with the development of a human rights culture and health facilities are no exception. Health committee members also work in the most impoverished communities and face social problems that poor communities generally deal with, such as gangsterism and all its consequences of drug and alcohol abuse, rape and child abuse and the other factors associated with severe social dysfunction.
Training health committee members, therefore, had to take cognisance of the fact that all human beings react to behaviours in their environment and, as such, the consciousness raising element of the training would be crucial, in addition to the content of the training manual, developed by the School of Public Health.
In addition, it is well-known that high levels of trauma create inattentiveness and impacts on people’s ability to learn and comprehend.
The health committee members themselves struggle with access to opportunity for progress and development and many of them joined the health committee as an opportunity for their own growth. Empathic engagement, which is the most deeply collaborative method of teaching, is used as an adult learning technique.
critical consciousness; respect-building
Students’ experiences of using lecture recordings for enhancing learning at the University of Cape Town
The practice of recording in-class lectures and making lecture recordings available for students to stream online or to download has potential benefit for students’ learning (Maynor, Barrickman, Stamatakis, & Elliott, 2013). Although higher education institutions, including UCT, invest in classroom lecture recording equipment, limited research has been documented about how learning technologies, such as lecture recordings, influence students’ learning. The objective of this study was to understand how UCT students’ use of lecture recordings could have possibly influenced their learning experiences. This presentation reports on findings from focus groups of 18 UCT students from across six courses. The sample was drawn from students who made frequent use of in-class lecture recordings in their respective courses. Data was analysed using an inductive process that draws on the grounded theory principles. Themes emerged around how and when students engaged with lecture recordings in response to their learning needs. Technical and lecture recordings’ quality issues that affected students’ engagement with the lecture recordings were also noted. Students reported that this resource allowed them an opportunity to play-back and download recorded lectures anytime using the university computers in the computer labs and their mobile devices. The findings reveal that, in most cases, students use lecture recordings to supplement their face-to-face classes rather than to replace them. This study confirms the importance for recording in-class lectures. Recommendations of how students could better use their mobile devices to maximise the full benefits of learning, have been made. Suggestions for improving the quality of lecture recordings have been made, for both lecturers and the University technical team that supports lecture recording.
Lecture recordings; Students' learning experience; In-class lecture recording
Development of online support for the postgraduate diploma in Disability Studies
The postgraduate diploma in Disability Studies has been offered at UCT for 10 years as a block release programme that is largely aimed at adult learners working in the disability sector. The programme is based on principles of adult learning aiming for maximum participation and active learning of students drawing on their own experiences. Feedback from the 2013 cohort of students highlighted the need to provide additional online support to improve the quality of learning and to reduce stress and expense for students who are required to travel long distances for block weeks. This paper describes the work in progress in developing a coherent online support system that is collaborative with the facilitation team and draws on the extensive online expertise that is available at UCT. We describe a process where overall programme outcomes are agreed upon by the facilitation team. These outcomes are then aligned with the purpose and outcomes each of the four courses in the programme. In turn the assessment tasks are related to the desired learning outcomes. We outline the next steps in course development which relate to team writing of face to face and online learning activities and seminars. We argue for the potential of online support to deepen understanding and enhance participation of adult learners.
Online teaching and learning; disability; learner participation
McMillan, Janice; Watson, Vanessa
‘A building isn’t just a building any more…’: Educating socially aware and globally conscious engineering and built environment professionals
The current UCT Strategic Plan emphasises defining and embedding, in its students, key graduate attributes including the ability to learn in an electronic and global age, the capacity for critical thinking and effective cross cultural communication. Internationalisation and social responsiveness is linked through a focus on issues of global citizenship and social justice that provides exposure to debates of global significance and opportunities for engaged policy research and service learning. EBE Faculty strategic goals align with this intention, and the Engineering Council of South Africa’s requirements that engineering students demonstrate multidisciplinary work and understand the impact of their decisions on the personal, social and cultural values of those they affect and interact with.
An undergraduate elective course called ‘Social Infrastructures: engaging with communities for change’, a partnership between CHED and EBE, and involving colleagues across 3 faculties, was designed to address these goals. In total, over 90 students have completed the course in the first two years and from the feedback thus far, it seems as if we have made some progress towards the goals highlighted above. As one student commented in the evaluation: ‘A building isn’t just a building any more, it serves a purpose for something and most probably someone’.
In this presentation, we reflect on the first 2 years of the course. Our particular interest is twofold:
• to think more critically about pedagogy and curriculum design (including assessment);
• to imagine how we can ‘mainstream’ elements of the teaching and the content for ‘graduate attributes’ without losing the criticality in approach that has been brought to the course thus far.
graduate attributes; socially aware students; community engaged teaching and learning
Morreira, Shannon; Henry, Michelle
Developing a foundation year for the social sciences in an extended degree program
The Faculty of Humanities Education Development Unit brought in a new curriculum for first year social science students in the Extended Degree program from 2013. This new curriculum was aimed at involving students in the social science majors in active learning environments that enable critical thinking and engagement with qualitative and quantitative ideas. The new curriculum requires first year social science students to take a minimum of two foundation courses: one of which aims to give students an appreciation and an understanding of mathematical and statistical ideas within social science contexts (MAM1022F); and the other of which aims to enable students to work critically with key concepts used across social science disciplines (DOH1009S). This presentation outlines the shape ofthe two courses, presenting some of the innovative teaching practices being used, particularly with regard to digital literacies and multilingualism in the classroom. We also examine some of the challenges that have emerged, and describe the ways in which the courses might adapt to these challenges in the future or have adapted already. Some of these adaptations include using content that draws more closely on students’ identities, working with technology and increasing digital literacy skills, and using content that is closely linked to students discipline specific subjects.
Curriculum development; Social sciences; Foundation year
What Can Be Learnt From An Ethics Course For Student Teachers That Went ‘Wrong’?
Each year I teach our Post Graduate Course in Education (PGCE) students a short course on ethical decision-making. A core part of the course is to analyse a moral dilemma that the students themselves have drawn from their own experiences during teaching practice in one of our local partnership schools. This year, 175 students volunteered their dilemmas after committing themselves to confidentiality under Chatham House Rules, which means that the examples cannot be discussed outside the lecture hall in such a way that people or schools involved can be identified. As is usually the case, the dilemma was chosen democratically by the students themselves. This year it involved a disclosure of violence in the classroom. The dilemma was leaked to the school and as a direct consequence the school decided not to take in future UCT student teachers. A few weeks later the student (who had volunteered the violent incident) deregistered.
In my paper I use this case study to investigate philosophically what the ethically-correct action is for a School of Education in cases such as these. Using the same ethical decision-making tool employed in my course, I analyse one core dilemma involved, with a view to deciding the ethically appropriate course of action. The pedagogy I use is both accepting and critical, and I use the case study constructively to explore democratic governance involving ethical issues. I conclude with practical suggestions for further research into the professional relationship between South African institutions that train teachers and their partnership schools.
Dangerous knowledge; Controversial issues; Democratic teaching
Co-shaping Living & Learning Spaces Through Leadership Development
The presentation is derived from engagement with UCT residence student leaders, and seeks to reflect on the efficacy and impact of training methodologies and programmes for capacity building and skills development that enable leadership to undertake holistic and integrated practice geared towards creating inclusive living and learning spaces. The conceptual framework for leadership training is informed by the Residence Life living and learning model, and attempts to map learning pathways encountered at a micro level-student perspective during the course of navigating macro-level university and residence environments and structures.
Support for engaged and active leadership is achieved through induction, orientation, immersion in council and committee practice, as well as sustained deepening of understanding in institutional mechanisms and processes for academic support, dispute resolution, and treasury functions, among others. It is proposed that learning by doing and participation in governance structures shapes cooperative and transformational learning. The ensuing dialogue equips student leaders to undertake their roles with greater awareness of the outcomes and repercussions of actions, and who can better sustain continual critical and constructive analysis of complex and changing contexts. Consultative practice and collaborative governance methodologies can build effective teams and forge stronger networks, and requires an inter-disciplinary approach to leadership training. Within a higher education environment student leaders are tasked with mediating stakeholder interests for realising integration and inclusivity, while balancing academic responsibilities. A living environment geared towards encouraging constant learning can be created through knowledge exchange, developing critical thinking skills while addressing the unique characteristics of each student journey."
Leadership; Governance; Integration
Nwanze, Ikechukwu; McKenzie, Judith
The inclusion of blind and visually impaired students in online support for Disability Studies Programme using Vula and Google Docs
The development of online courses is set to change the landscape of higher education globally. The question then arises as to whether the online environment will exclude certain students and if so how would this be addressed in terms of promoting access and equality. In this paper, we focus specifically on the possible exclusion of people with visual impairment who may find the online environment difficult if not impossible to negotiate. We present our progress in dealing with accessibility issues in the development of online support for the postgraduate diploma (PGDip) in Disability Studies. The UCT Vula learning management system (LMS) and Google Documents (Google docs) are the two main technological tools to be used for online support for staff and students. An audit of the built in accessibility features of the tools was conducted. An initial accessibility guide for staff and students on the Postgraduate Diploma in using Google Docs and Vula LMS for online support was drawn up. The guide was piloted by the accessibility team of the PGDip, several of whom are blind or visually impaired themselves. We will present our findings from the accessibility team and suggest ways forward to address remaining issues. We will also reflect on the process of the accessibility team in ensuring a usable online environment that enables equal access to people with visual impairment.
Accessibility for blind and visually impaired; Online support for disabled students; Google docs and Vula
Crossing the City: Pedagogies Beyond the Classroom
In complexity, fracture and opportunity, the South African city provides researchers, activists, teachers as well as students, an innovative and nuanced site for engagement. In teaching, we often engage this complex urban terrain through arguments and debates embedded in popular, policy and scholarly texts – the scripts of the conventional social science classroom. Yet, at our doorstep - down the hill - the city and its many practices await. In the conflicts and convivialities of neighbourhoods; in individual and family stories and histories; and in the smells, sounds, and feel of homes and streets, we can make visible and navigate urban inequalities and opportunities. In this paper, I share an approach to teaching that brings together city texts and streets in the classroom and in township neighbourhoods. Built through joint research partnerships with activists in city non-governmental organisations and township community-based groups, our classroom has found multiple sites of learning. In teaching with community-based activists and organisations, and in guiding student learning in township streeets and households, as well as in the classroom, in this paper I reflect on this pedagogical approach, particularly its infusion of multple knowledge registers and varied experiences. In our polarized urban contexts, I argue that this pedagogy is hard essential work, one way to renegotiate hierarchies of expertise and to validate knowledges in the plural, located in multiple sites across university and community contexts.
Community-Based Partnerships; Urban Studies; Plural Knowledges and Expertise
Teaching problem-solving through coding – A review of two free online programming platforms
To succeed in the future all students will need a positive attitude and the ability to solve problems. These skills are reflected in the term ‘computational thinking’ which promotes a problem-solving process (e.g. breaking down a complex task into solvable parts) and number of attitudes (e.g. confidence in dealing with complexity). This session reflects on the teaching of these skills to a large and diverse first-year group, through an introductory Information Systems course.
Two platforms were used to introduce students to programming, guiding them to be capable of building a fully-functioning mobile app after just eight tutorials. Most students had little to no prior programming experience. Although the platforms are feature-rich they are easy to set up and allow students to create apps right away. Running online (in the ‘cloud’) minimal desktop computing resources are needed and mobile apps can be simulated on a virtual device (for those without a suitable phone).
The potential and challenges of using this approach is evaluated. A demo of a student app is accompanied by student feedback, generally indicating enjoyment in using the platforms and a perception of relevance in developing for mobile devices. Further, time is spent reflecting on the student experience and transference of soft (i.e. computational thinking) skills. This approach to programming can be used in other disciplines to create an engaging student experience while teaching these skills.
Technology; Computational Thinking; Mobile
Pallitt, Nicola; Houslay, Steph
ePortfolio integration in an e-marketing course
Currently, assessment of learning predominates over assessment for learning in Higher Education and alternative methods of assessment, such as ePortfolios, offer well-documented benefits for student engagement and learning (Williams, 2014). This paper reports on a pilot study which included the integration of ePortfolios in the postgraduate diploma course in e-marketing at the University of Cape Town (UCT). The purpose of this curriculum intervention was to achieve the course goals and align with UCT’s strategic goals related to graduate attributes and preparing students for the workplace. Our aim was for students to demonstrate practical skills related to the implementation and evaluation of e-marketing strategies using tactics to market themselves as an online brand (ie. practical application of course content). Secondly, we hoped to enable students to think about themselves as future professionals by creating an online space to ‘market’ themselves to potential employers. Our action-research approach included analysing students’ ePortfolios using content analysis and their perception of the task through student evaluations and focus group. Our findings suggest that while ePortfolios provide a method for alternative assessment, it has even more potential when linked to authentic learning. Students completed e-tivities not only for marks, but also for internships at local advertising agencies and marketing companies as an added incentive. We argue that while the assessment and subject are well aligned, we interrogate how students made sense of ePortfolios in relation to assessment for learning.
ePortfolio; assessment curriculum; innovation
Paxton, Moragh; Firth, Vera; Kelly, Roisin; Muna, Natashia; van der Merwe, Mathilde
Mapping the literacies in the Earth and Life Sciences at UCT
One of the objectives for academic literacy teaching in the new UCT Language Policy and Plan (2013) is collaboration between disciplines and skill providers (Language Development Group, Numeracy Centre, Information and digital literacy specialists) to embed academic literacy in mainstream courses across each degree. The Plan recommends that the “skills providers” would work with the course convenors and lecturers to build academic literacy interventions in the relevant courses. In some specified undergraduate courses, where very little of the collaborative work has happened beyond first year, a first stage should be to identify and map literacy practices required in senior courses.
With the Language Plan in mind, we decided to extend the research and experience we had gained in the foundation courses in the Earth and Life Sciences (AGE1004H and BIO1000F) with a second phase of the Integrated Literacies for Learning in Science project, an academic literacies research project we have worked on over the past several years. In Phase II we are investigating the academic literacy requirements of the different disciplines to which our first year students progress. We are interested not only in mapping the literacies in Biology, EGS, Microbiology, Archaeology and Geology, but also in understanding how the literacies are mediated. Phase II began this year and we have interviewed 12 lecturers in these disciplines and examined some of their course materials. In our presentation we would like to report on some of the findings from this project ie mapping . some of the literacy practices that are particular to these disciplines , describing innovative mediation practices being used by some lecturers and considering ways in which academic literacies and the teaching thereof can be built into curricula in the early stages of curriculum design so that reading and writing shape the learning of the subject.
Literacies; Teaching; Science
Physics Academic Staff
Active Engagement in Physics: Vignettes of Innovation
The Department of Physics has developed a number of innovative approaches to increase student engagement and participation, both inside and outside of formal lectures. Clicker questions coupled with in-house polling software, interactive lecture demonstrations designed and maintained by the physics workshop and specially written computer simulations are frequently used to engage students in the lecture theatre. Simulations partnered with guided inquiry worksheets, whiteboard group tutorials and innovative laboratory activities motivate student learning outside of formal lectures. In this presentation, several members of the Physics Department will present examples of such innovation from their own teaching. These will include group whiteboard problem solving sessions for large classes (approximately 100 students in a flat space each afternoon); effective use of lecture demonstrations; learning LabVIEW using Lego NXT robots; construction of mini transistor radios; student-generated simulations using VPython; and a modelling inquiry approach using simulations.
Innovative teaching in physics; Increasing student engagement; Active learning
Prince, Robert; Frith, Vera
Quantitative Literacy of university applicants: diagnostic information from the National Benchmark Test
Many students entering university are not adequately prepared by their schooling to confront the demands made by university curricula on their academic literacies, and in particular their quantitative literacy. The University in a concept paper in 2009* undertook to seek opportunities to strengthen students’ quantitative literacy within existing curricula. In order to address students’ QL within university teaching, lecturers need an understanding of entering students’ strengths and weaknesses in this area. Analysing the results of the NBT QL test for a large cohort of 6 326 university applicants contributes to this understanding and provides insights into the implications for teaching and learning. A large proportion of these applicants showed a general inability to interpret data representations of the kind commonly encountered in textbooks, journal and other academic literature. There was a general weakness in basic geometry knowledge, visuospatial thinking and understanding of scale, which has serious implications for teaching in more technical disciplines. Other areas of weakness revealed by the test results and which have implications for teaching are widespread difficulty in reasoning about proportions, understanding the decimal number system and representing simple relationships symbolically. The results also highlight that lecturers cannot assume that most students understand the language used to express simple quantitative concepts.
* Concept Paper ‘Enhancing the quality and profile of UCT graduates’ (2009)
Quantitative Literacy; Diagnostic information; National Benchmark Test
Student choice and Graduate Agency
One of the key graduate attributes is a sense of agency and initiative in addressing societal challenges. This presentation focuses on the educational precedents, both intra-curricular and extra-curricular, that might promote a greater sense of agency and socail responsiveness after graduation. Choice of courses, vacation experiences, and extra-curricular studies may play important roles in promoting social responsiveness. Using the experiences of health science students, their curricular experiences of public health as well as their extra-curricular experiences in SHAWCO clinics will be linked to examples of individual and collective agency during the compulsory year of community service that all health sciences graduates undergo in the public service. A model of the development of social responsiveness through voluntary options and compulsory requirements, both as students and later as graduates, will be presented for discussion.
Graduate attributes; Extra-curricular studies; Social responsiveness
The hidden curriculum in the Afrikaans Clinical Language course for Paediatrics
In 2013, through funding from the European Union, the Health Sciences Faculty was able to launch a pilot course in Afrikaans Clinical Language for Paediatrics, to complement the 5th year Paediatric curriculum. As the course is in infantile stages, the curriculum is still being refined, reviewed and adjusted. Student feedback is integral to this process. In the last 12-month cycle it has become apparent that much of what students appreciate of the course is not the explicit language aspect but, how the course contributes to students' communicative abilities and their confidence as clinical practitioners.
In the medical context the hidden curriculum is defined as ""learning in response to inarticulated processes and constraints, which fall outside the formal medical education curriculum"" (Doja et. al.2013). This presentation will be dedicated to exploring the ways in which the Afrikaans Clinical Languages for Paediatrics course contributes to the hidden curriculum and how awareness of these aspects can be incorporated into the curriculum in a more formalised manner.
Whether there are any benefits of this course being offered by Humanities graduates – therefore offering a different perspective from medically trained graduates - will also be under discussion.
Hidden Curriculum; Communication Skills; Integrated Learning
Action-oriented assessment: Tools for learning and social responsiveness
This paper offers a discussion of multiple outcomes of student assessment in two interdisciplinary masters-level courses at the University of Cape Town: EGS5031F (Introduction to Climate Change and Sustainable Development); and EGS5032F (Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation). The paper reflects on two assessment tools, one from each course: 1) on a group video project focused on communicating climate change; and 2) a participatory action research project in partnership with HAICU, UCT students and community members. The discussion reveals that student assessment tools may provide multiple and beneficial outcomes for both student learning and direct action related to course content. In both cases, the careful consideration and design of student assessment tools hold potential for addressing both pedagogical and social-responsibility priorities.
Assessment; Interdisciplinarity; Action Research
Rooney, Christopher; Van Walbeek, Corne
The Determinants of Graduation and Academic Withdrawal at UCT
University graduation rates have become increasingly important for institutions and policymakers alike. Academic exclusion, or other forms of withdrawal from university, represents a substantial loss to the individual, the institution and broader society. The purpose of this paper, which is part of a Masters dissertation in Economics, is to investigate the determinants of graduation and academic exclusion in UCT’s Commerce, Engineering and Built Environment and Science faculties. Survival analysis is used to address some of the methodological concerns inherent in educational data.
Preliminary results suggest that there are very large differences in graduation rates (and exclusion rates) between students. Factors that have been identified as having a positive impact on graduation include the following: not being on financial aid, being English-speaking, white, female, having attended a Quintile 5 or independent school, and living in the Western Cape. On the other hand, factors that have been identified as being significant in explaining academic exclusion are the following: being on financial aid, non-English speaking, black, male, normally residing outside the Western Cape and having attended poorly-resourced schools. We will present appropriate odds ratios at the conference.
A result of particular interest to the various Readmission Appeals Committees is that, relative to the Commerce Faculty, the Science and EBE faculties exclude a substantially greater proportion of poorly performing students in the first and second years. The Commerce Faculty excludes relatively few poorly performing students in the first two years, but the exclusion rate increases sharply in the third and subsequent years.
Graduation; Academic withdrawal; Retention
Using Vula Statistics to Uncover Learning Patterns
The possibilities in UCT's online learning platform Vula go way beyond mere file archive and sharing. Starting at UCT in 2009, I have experimented with several Vula tools to further teaching and learning in subjects with contrasting objectives in the School of Architecture.Through the Vula statistics tool, this paper will explore students engagement with the Vula tools activated for each specific course and, by cross-analysis with UCT time-table fixes, suggest possibilities for smarter use of Vula for an improved learning experience.
Vula; Learning Objectives; Architecture
The UCT Knowledge Co-op: Conducting thesis research while learning from a community partner
The UCT Knowledge Co-op offers post-graduate students the opportunity to conduct their dissertations in collaboration with community partners. Groups approach the Co-op with issues on which they need research; the Co-op then looks for one or more suitable graduate students to take these on for their theses.
The paper will discuss how this way of conducting a thesis provides a valuable learning opportunity for students while they are “doing what they have to do anyway”. It will unpack the benefits of working with a community partner, i.e. applying theory to a real world issue, working with a ‘client’ to address their concerns while tapping into their expertise and experience of the context. In addition it often provides an eye-opening glimpse of the reality of a marginalised community – and in that a better understanding of the reality of the South African context which they will address after graduating.
The paper also briefly outlines the process followed by the Co-op and the support offered to students in their engagement with the community partners – organisational as well as through reflection sessions.
Community-Based Research; Engaged Scholarship; Graduate Attributes
Shivute, Meke; Mayisela, Tabisa
Evaluating the effectiveness of Digital Literacy integration into the curriculum: A case study at the University of Cape Town
Digital literacy which is a combination of both information literacy and technology literacy, is an essential component of preparing students for higher degrees and further equipping them with the necessary skills for the workplace. Courses that integrate information literacy skills and foundations of technology into the curriculum enable students to gain skills to support their learning. A desktop study (self-evaluation) of first year students that is conducted yearly, by the University, indicates that many students entering the University lack the skills required to apply digital technologies and information management in education. It is therefore crucial to ensure these competencies are integrated into the curriculum especially for first year students, to equip them with the essential skills.
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of designing and integrating digital literacies into an Information systems (INF1102F/S) curriculum. The Information Systems course is a foundation course in the Faculty of Commerce. The aim of the study is to enhance student learning experience and develop their academic and digital literacies as graduate attributes through the design of an authentic project-based task and assessment. This case study used a mixed methods approach. Quantitative and qualitative data was elicited from a purposive sample of Information Systems students, using a questionnaire and focus groups, respectively. The Open University Digital Information Literacy (DIL) Framework was used to analyse the data. The results demonstrate effectiveness of integrating digital literacies into the curriculum, as the authentic project-based task and assessment enhanced students’ learning experience. The participants developed a good level of digital literacy skills and a better understanding of digital literacies as they apply to Information systems. This study confirms the necessity of designing and integrating digital literacy into the curriculum to enhance student learning. The study furthermore promotes the development of coherent, inclusive and holistic approaches for designing academic and digital literacies particularly for the Academic Development Programme students in the Faculty of commerce.
Digital Literacy; Information Systems; Higher Education
Small, Janet; Deacon, Andrew; Walji, Sukaina
MOOCing around with online learning
We provide an update on UCT’s current thinking around MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and the work of CILT’s MOOC Implementation Team. In the first part of the session we present our perspective of how MOOCs have been evolving and can be viewed within the landscape of higher education course provision. To support this understanding we developed a conceptual model to categorise MOOCs based on factors such as audience, purpose and function. We present an overview of the university's current MOOC strategy, including the MOOCs UCT is developing, and outline how we intend engaging with the UCT community. The second part of session comprises a panel discussion. The panel includes lecturers and learners who will give some of their perspectives on how MOOCs can and are being used in teaching and learning. This will include people developing UCT MOOCs for a global audience, educators wrapping other institutions' MOOCs to support student learning at UCT, and learner perspectives of participating in MOOCs. We then open the floor to questions on how UCT can make use of MOOCs to leverage benefits in online learning and in supporting teaching and learning initiatives at UCT.
Proposed agenda (tentative):
Part 1: 20 min - CILT overview and strategy
Part 2: 20 min – panellist positions
Part 3: 20 min – open discussion
Moocs; Online Learning; Open Learning
Smythe, Dee; Jefthas, Diane; Paine, Tabitha
Student experiences and perceptions of law school
In July and August 2012, 234 registered students in UCT’s Law Faculty participated in an online survey seeking to explore their experiences and perceptions of law school. Among the key issues addressed are: prior educational background; satisfaction with academic performance; student-lecturer interactions and mentorship; relationships with other students and the emotional experience of law school. A primary aim of this study is to contribute to knowledge about how students are experiencing law school, and the difference in opportunity and barriers that may be felt across race and gender. Ultimately the goal is not only to provide a deeper understanding of the student body and the constraints they face in attending university, but also to present data to help guide the programing and support services that the Law Faculty provides. The findings from the 167- question survey will be presented in a series of articles. In this workshop we hope to engage with some of the challenges confronting students, with a specific focus on high school preparation, class participation, language, and student-faculty engagement.
Law School Challenges; Classroom Participation; Student-Faculty Engagement
Talberg, Heather; Rustin, Letitia
Using an understanding of students' experiences to inform course design
Community placements are an accepted norm in Physiotherapy training. Within these placements students need to broaden their traditional understanding of physiotherapy, moving beyond the skills to a more holistic role. Through working in specific communities, they are expected to gain an understanding of rehabilitation in context and their role within current healthcare systems. Opportunities to understand the socio-economic barriers to healthcare and rehabilitation are created, often through interactions within the clients in their home environments. At UCT, the Physiotherapy Divisions’ community placement has taken place at a 3rd year clinical course level and has used home based care organisations as a platform for interacting with communities in the Cape Town metro.
However, in 2013 a number of issues, including gang violence and a perceived sense of danger by students forced the Division to consider changes to this placement. This, coupled with questions from students regards the relevance of this exposure in developing them as Physiotherapists resulted in i) a curriculum decision to move the placement to a 4th year clinical level from 2015, and ii) a need to reconsider the entire teaching and assessment structure of the placement.
Researchers wanted to understand what students had actually learnt on their community placements and whether this had matched any of the intended outcomes. A qualitative, descriptive study allowed data to be collected from the cohorts of students who completed the placement in 2013/ 2012. The provisional findings from this study and the potential impact on future learning outcomes will be presented.
Physiotherapy; Curriculum; Student learning
[Abstract to follow]
ECG ONLINE: A Teaching and Learning Grant success story
Interpreting electrocardiograms (ECGs) is a core, diagnostic skill that most undergraduate medical students find difficult to master. ECGs are best learnt using a blended learning approach over several years, starting with introduction to electrophysiology and understanding the ‘rules’ of interpretation’, and followed in subsequent years by practicing with both standardized and individual bed-side ECGs.
Unfortunately it has been shown that students’ ECG interpretation skills actually deteriorate after initial teaching in 3rd year, as exposure to and practice of ECGs in the wards vary. Existing material on the web does not integrate well with our curriculum. There is a need for standardized ECGs that are longitudinally and vertically aligned with the medical curriculum, and that can be sequentially introduced over the course of the 4 clinical years as self-directed learning.
The project goal was to create two online ECG sets as pilot modules in a long-term, sustainable ECG e-learning platform. The process involved collaboration with different academics on pedagogic aspects of clinical reasoning, securing long-term access to an ECG bank and developing software to function as a template, enabling clinicians to create more modules (at undergraduate or postgraduate level) simply by uploading their ECG content into the template. Students have the opportunity to follow the clinical reasoning steps, receive targeted feedback and learn take-home messages. The project faced numerous challenges: under-funding, differing ideas on the pedagogic process and limitations as to what can be done technically. ECG ONLINE has been successfully piloted and is now available on the UCT platform.
ECG; e-learning; Collaboration
Student engagement in lectures and tutorials: An experiment
This year I attempted to assess which types of ‘intervention’ were most effective in engaging the LLB Corporation law class during lectures and tutorials and keeping them engaged for the duration of the contact session. The reasons I embarked on this exercise were twofold. Firstly, given the fact that my class this year is significantly larger than in previous years (197 students), I was concerned about losing contact with the class as a result of the anonymity offered to students by being part of such a large lecture group. Secondly, I wanted to explore the tutorials as an opportunity for a different type of learning experience. I found that last year my Corporation law students did not prepare adequately for tutorials which meant that these inevitably degenerated into a type of mini-lecture. Although the information I gathered from this informal experiment is not scientific research and is also class (and probably) subject specific, I thought it may be of interest to colleagues grappling with similar issues and serve to stimulate the exchange of ideas in this area.
Large classes; Effective engagement; Attention span