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Chris Winberg's presentation at ICED, Stockholm, 2014


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Chris presented data from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology case study, which forms part of the Structure, Culture and Agency research project.

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Chris Winberg's presentation at ICED, Stockholm, 2014

  1. 1. ‘Extreme teaching’: educational development in difficult contexts A Case Study Chris Winberg ICED Conference, 16-18 June 2014
  2. 2. I think a lot of what one does is determined by the circumstance and sometimes the circumstance forces you into … or let’s say minimizes the amount of options that are available to you and sometimes yes it is chalk and talk… because that’s all you can do at that moment…that’s all you have available to you at that moment (Interviewee 4).
  3. 3. Background and context South African higher education as an ‘extreme’ case: 1. Historical legacies and current dominant practices continue to advantage some universities and disadvantage others); 2. Post-apartheid expansion of student enrolment; 3. Expectations of a society undergoing significant social change All place particular pressures on university teachers and those who offer them support.
  4. 4. Overarching research question How should professional development be practiced in contexts of considerable change and challenge?
  5. 5. Conceptual underpinnings Structure, Culture and Agency (Social realist Margaret Archer) Structure: A set of internally related objects. The concept ‘ structure’ does certainly not refer only to social structures. Structure refers to the inner composition making each object what it is and not something else … (Danemark et al. 1997)
  6. 6. Conceptual underpinnings Culture: any item that can be understood by anyone Cultural system: propositional register of any society at a given time (discursive practice) Socio-cultural integration: relationships between cultural agents
  7. 7. Conceptual underpinnings Agency: allows for transformation of society; emerges out of interplay with structure and culture Human reflexivity: internal conversation Personal identity: achieved at maturity when our concerns or commitments attain a unique pattern
  8. 8. The limits of conceptual underpinnings • Need wide range of researchers engaged in wide range of research projects • Different conceptual perspectives create different research projects (and vice versa); • A modesty about what can be achieved in single research projects; • Space needs to be given for empirical data to knock against conceptual perspectives and change them… • Conceptual frameworks simplify – but ‘it is in their interactive, challenging complexity that their humanity lies.’
  9. 9. Multi-site Study National Policy and Landscape CPUT Fort Hare Rhodes UWC SU Wits Venda UCT Macro Meso Micro
  10. 10. Policies, guidelines Institutional statistics Institutional policies Interviews: VCs, DVCs, Deans Unit Self reports Research Design Questionnaire, Interviews National level Institutional level (VCs, DVCs, Deans) Unit/centre level (Directors) Individual level Lecturers, HoDs Macro Structure Meso Culture Micro Agency
  11. 11. Analysing the interview data Interviews with VC, DVC, Deans, Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Coordinators, etc. External interviewers, external transcribers, verified, coded by 2 coders….
  12. 12. Finding 1: understanding teaching Senior Management Educational developers Academic staff Good teaching is straightforward and aligned with targeted student success and throughput rates Good teaching starts as reflective practice and progresses to scholarly, research- based and theoretically informed teaching. Good teaching is complex, constantly changing, responsive to students’ needs, and focused on their holistic development.
  13. 13. Senior managers Educational developers Academic Staff Need more substantial awards, ‘compulsory’ nature of new lecturer training, support for educational development Distinguished teaching awards, educational research fund, teaching forums; teaching portfolios for ad hominem promotion… Awards are not necessary – just fill the vacant teaching posts and load us less, don’t ‘punish’ us for not being researchers by giving us additional teaching loads, understand that good teaching is hard work! we need good working (i.e., T&L) conditions and supportive managers. 2. Status of teaching
  14. 14. 3. Key enablers Senior managers Academic staff The policy environment, institutional and faculty structures, extensive staff development provision and resources. Structures (esp faculty), resources , colleagues, research groups, E.D. provision – but MAINLY supportive heads of department and strong teaching and learning departmental cultures.
  15. 15. 4. Key constraints Senior Managers Academic staff Large numbers of underprepared students, lack of department leadership for innovative teaching and learning, and the policy implementation gap. Heavy teaching loads, heavy administrative burden, low staff morale, the strain of coping with poor facilities and maintenance, the poor IT infrastructure (which makes some forms of staff development pointless) and heads of department who do not/cannot support innovative teaching and learning.
  16. 16. Some reflections… • Some similarities, but also strong dissonances between senior managers, academic developers and academic staff in terms of understandings, practices, structures, attitudes, and discourses; • Senior managers are concerned that students are weak, but good teachers take on the challenge; • Unintended consequences (e.g., re-curriculation, departmental reviews and audits – intended to improve – but can have opposite effect);
  17. 17. Reflections/cont • Good teaching makes demands on university teachers that are exacerbated by dysfunctional environments; • Teaching has been under-valued (teaching is ‘easy’ therefore not rewarded/teaching is ‘punishment’ for not doing research); • Concern: the extent to which practices promoted in ASD by the academic developers – many of which are ICT-based – are suited for practice within many departmental settings; • Good teaching is emerges as highly context-specific sets of practices…
  18. 18. I love teaching … not like teaching … I love teaching … that’s my life… (Interviewee 3). I absolutely love it … I’m quite passionate about teaching and I always have been and I have like an energy affinity with teaching … I can see what needs to be done and what happens when people don’t understand and how to help people understand …so ja … I love it (Interviewee 6).
  19. 19. Recommendations Structure 1: clear processes and support for T&L, lines of accountability, sanction for non-implementation (but flexibility, sensitivity to disciplinary or professional cultures; the guiding role of enabling structures). Structure 2: address the failing service and support systems (The Dysfunctional contexts place burden on academic staff takes its toll, and teaching and learning suffers.) Culture 1: Showcase the considerable successes in T&L in ways that reach all staff and all managers; start the long process of changing perceptions around the ‘second class’ status of teaching. Culture 2: address ‘the human element’, the distress caused by the merger, the enormous workloads imposed by re-curriculation and other projects (over and above generally high workloads).
  20. 20. Acknowledgments The team Cape Higher Education Consortium Nasima Badsha Rhodes University Chrissie Boughey Lynn Quinn University of the Western Cape Vivienne Bozalek Wendy McMillan Cape Peninsula University of Technology Chris Winberg James Garraway Duban University of Technology Gita Mistri Julien Vooght University of Cape Town Jeff Jawitz Fort Hare University Vuyisile Nkonki University of Stellenbosch Brenda Leibowitz Susan van Schalkwyk Nicoline Herman Jean Farmer University of Venda Clever Ndebele