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Final structure, culture and ageny panel


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Presentation of a series of papers on the Structure, Culture and Agency research project at the annual Heltasa Conference, UFS, November 2014.

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Final structure, culture and ageny panel

  1. 1. Interplay of Structure, Culture and Agency: A study on professional development in higher education in South Africa – what can we learn about context, and does it matter? HELTASA CONFERENCE Free State University 19 – 21 November 2014
  2. 2. Full team (2011-2013) Rhodes University Chrissie Boughey, Lynn Quin, Jo Voster University of the Western Cape Vivienne Bozalek, Wendy McMillan Stellenbosch University Brenda Leibowitz, Nicoline Herman, Jean Farmer, Susan van Schalkwyk, Julia Blitz Cape University of Technology Chris Winberg, James Garraway University of Cape Town Jeff Jawitz, June Pym, Kevin Williams, Teresa Peres Durban University of Technology Gita Mistri, University of Venda Clever Ndebele University of Fort Hare Vuyisile Nkonki The National Research Foundation provided funding for the project titled “Context, structure and agency” (reference ESA20100729000013945)
  3. 3. Research setting: South African higher education Disadvantaged Comprehensive
  4. 4. Key Research Questions 1. How does ‘context’ influence participation in professional development wrt the teaching role? 2. How does the interplay of structure, culture and agency feature within and across these settings? 3. What can we learn in order to enhance the roles of teaching and learning centres and strategies? 4. What are appropriate research methods to research professional development in South Africa?
  5. 5. Key Assumptions for Operations Embedded Case Study Design Multiple sites across range of institutional types Focus on macro, meso and micro levels Reflection on practice as AD Practitioners Collaborative research
  6. 6. Research Design • National Policy Environment • Analysis of intelligibilia per institution (p.i.) • Reflective reports by AD Directors p. i. • Questionnaire p.i. (736 cleaned replies) • Interviews: – 4 senior management p.i. – 10 – 16 academics p.i. • Reflections on research process (x 2) • Leading to 8 institutional case reports
  7. 7. Themes for this panel A research-led and teaching-committed university Lynn Quin and Jo Vorster (Rhodes University) UOTs since the mergers Gita Mistri (DUT) Professional development in rural universities Clever Ndebele and Vuyisile Nkonki (UniVen and UFH) Duality of institutions James Garraway and Chris Winberg (Cape Peninsula University of Technology) Implications for research on professional development and recommendations for professional development Vivienne Bozalek and Wendy MacMillan (University of the Western Cape)
  8. 8. Balancing act Research and Teaching & learning Lynn Quinn and Jo Vorster Rhodes University
  9. 9. Rhodes context •Small, historically white, research-intensive, English medium (not merged) •Good UG & PG pass & graduation rates •Relatively good academic staff research outputs •Despite being a ‘research intensive’ university, it is an enabling environment for the development of academic staff as teachers –97% of respondents indicated a high interest in teaching –79% have attended professional learning for teaching. –83% Rhodes provides formal recognition for engagement in professional learning –82% Rhodes provides resources for engagement in professional learning WHY?
  10. 10. Enabling items in the cultural system Teaching highly valued by most staff (historically) “there is a discourse in the institution that values good teaching” “there’s a standard of excellence in teaching and for the most part our academic staff have a passion for excellence in teaching” “I’m also very fortunate because in my department I feel that the majority of us are really committed to excellence in teaching and that really helps and it’s very motivating to be part of that kind of team” Passion for teaching and students’ learning “cultivation of highly educated graduates” (VC) “I want to be a good teacher because I love it. I love it when I see the students suddenly realize how something fits together and how, you know, the penny sort of drops, to speak. I would imagine that a lot of academics are motivated by that … face to face with the students rather than the recognition” There’s a commitment to excellence in teaching and that commitment is carried through into a willingness to engage with new methods, new ways of doing things … try this, try that and just that commitment to changing things if the students need it Intrinsic motivation for staff development I did a programme because I love teaching, quite frankly. Teaching is what I really enjoy doing and that presses all my buttons I just thought I wasn’t confident enough, you know, because I thought I needed some support and the only way to gain that support was to link up with people who could support me through readings, ja, through discussions and that’s where CHERTL became just the right place to be
  11. 11. Enabling items in the cultural system Challenging traditional views; questioning taken for granted beliefs about T & L “teaching is about creating spaces of freedom for students and for teachers to learn and grow and transform at many levels, personal, social and political together” “So I don’t like teaching a student who memorises something. But I want them to understand it, so I like them to grasp and understand the applicability of what they’ve learnt either with me or getting assistance from their their peers. That’s my strong belief”. “I think the students all learn in a different way … they need to put together their own, construct their own picture of what they are learning and make it fit in with what they already know. And of course, everybody already knows different things, everybody’s going to create or construct something slightly different and slot it into what they already know …” Shifts in way ‘good’ teaching understood good teaching is regarded as enabling students “to both gain knowledge and contribute to knowledge generation” (SM).
  12. 12. Enabling items in the cultural system More nuanced understandings of diversity “the ultimate test … of the transformation of a university like Rhodes – or any university for that matter – is the extent to which we have engaged with profound epistemological and ontological issues, teaching and learning issues and curriculum issues” (SM) Recognition that disciplinary qualifications not sufficient I’m not sure you can necessarily teach simply because you have a PhD. I’m a very strong proponent of this programme I do think that there is a funny assumption that just because you have disciplinary knowledge you can automatically pass that on in an effective way through a kind of teaching structure. So I do think it is appropriate to give opportunities for lecturers to understand curriculum design, pedagogical approaches, issues of assessment, etcetera, etcetera. I think it is a very valid, valuable tool
  13. 13. Enabling structures Policies and probation and promotion requirements (levers) … our induction, our expectations …that we put on academics to equip themselves with respect to curriculum, learning and teaching and so on all signal how seriously we take learning and teaching. “teaching is a very important part of, it’s one of those pillars of the promotion process” Well resourced, stable credible T & L Centre And then we provide the mechanisms and processes by which we support and induct them into those activities CHERTL supports and nurture this very well at Rhodes with the vast experience of their staff in various aspects of professional engagement. The entire administrative set up here supports this too! I think we are privileged at Rhodes, that there are quite a few opportunities for development AD staff in academic posts Roles/ Dean T & L Overt and explicit support from senior leadership Strong element of support for CHERTL from management and leadership
  14. 14. Exploring ACADEMIC & MISSION DRIFT from within the DUT Gita Mistri
  15. 15. structure In terms of the transformation agenda of the country, I am not sure if everything about that restructuring was actually thought through. We became universities; everybody was suddenly called a university. However, which meant that we got measured and funded similarly and not differentially. And if you’re going to take an institution like ours and say we have to compete for this small pot of gold with universities like UCT and Stellenbosch and so on, then it becomes very difficult for me to say we were not impacted by that restructuring, because the restructuring didn’t drill down into what kind of funding and resource allocation mechanisms you will use; what will be the performance indicators that you will use in order to measure the various institutions achievements towards the national goals. (SM@)
  16. 16. culture We’re going, but we’re going slowly, because...suddenly we were called a university, [and] there’s supposed to be a shift in the way that you do things. We walk into an environment, those of us who came from outside, where a number of people were telling us that they were never even allowed to go to conferences and they were teachers. No one expected them to write, no one expected them to play the academic game ….some of them are near retirement, …and you say to them, “You need to actually start publishing …. (SM2)
  17. 17. culture The university has done a lot in terms of giving us this platform to re-curriculate. It’s given us almost a blank sheet and said go and re-design your curriculum … to what you think and together with other stakeholders what you think is going to make this a better quality student exiting our system. (LL2)
  18. 18. agency Look, it’s hard to say the environment is conducive, but I think we have the attitude to make it conducive, we look beyond the potholes (LL4). It’s a recognition of things [that] need to change and there must be a better way of doing things (LL7).
  19. 19. Political lobbying  academic and mission drifterosion of the differentiating boundaries Articulation ??????????????????????????????????????????? Reverse - Transfer Reverse lobbyingbusiness and industry re-establishment of the technikon type institution 
  20. 20. Rurality and the Professional Development of University Teachers Clever Ndebele (UniVen) and Vuyisile Nkonki (UFS)
  21. 21. The concept of rurality • associated with remoteness with a set of characteristics such as greater distances, low socio-economic status, high proportion of indigenous people, poor access to services, and smaller populations. • In SA, the notion of rural is closely associated with histories and structures that have created conditions and circumstances of ‘oppression’, ‘deprivation’, ‘disadvantage’ and ‘deficit • Often, rural is formulated in comparison to the urban with strong assumptions of difference and deficit underpinning this binary (Masinire, Maringe and Nkambule 2014)
  22. 22. The concept of rurality...... However, a contrasting view looks at the generative and transformative nature of rurality in relation to the effectiveness of intervention programmes (Balfour, de Lange, and Khau, 2012) Rurality as context suggests that one of the defining characteristics of rurality is its intensity. For example, even though there is poverty in urban context, the fact that there is better support and infrastructure and a better chance of obtaining assistance (in the form of social services), such support often is either absent or inaccessible in rural areas, owing to distance, poor transportation, and neglect (Balfour, Mitchell, & Moletsane 2008).
  23. 23. The intersection between rurality and professional development … there are many barriers that make the process of engaging in professional development difficult: long distances, lack of economic resources, and heavy workloads that require a lot of time and energy both inside and outside of school (Gallo, J.R.,2013).
  24. 24. Key constraints to the uptake of professional development senior management cited large class teaching as major constraint to lecturers finding time to engage in professional development opportunities. The quote below illustrates how rurality bears on the uptake of PD opportunities in a rural campus: “But if you have very few people doing what so many people should be doing, chances are that something has to give. Quality might suffer, in fact, because they wouldn't take advantage of those staff development opportunities. I mean, we have lots of seminars here, and you see that members of staff really don't show up. You have to be dealing with students (and sometimes people coming from town), where are the colleagues?”
  25. 25. Key constraints... Constraining conditions identified by lecturers were time, inadequate infrastructure, lack of orientation prior to assumption of duty, huge workloads, large classes and lack of requisite resources. (lack of resources to hire more staff in the concept of rurality?). The quotes below buttress the above sentiments: “Low attraction of adequate qualified staff due to living conditions, hence putting too much workload on the available staff. As a result available staff are at times unable to pursue professional development opportunities if is there are no replacements” ( MNG2)
  26. 26. Key constraints... “Currently within the university we do have the problem that all the positions are not quite filled, and another concern might be that there might be financial constraints, you know to get everything going at the moment” (SM-2) “Number two is the lack of senior degrees among the majority of our staff members as, also I was indicating to you, we are one of the faculties in this university with a low percentage of people or lecturers with doctorate degrees and that has a knock-on effect in many areas “(SM-4). “In fact, that’s probably at the bottom of it all because, when we say that it’s difficult to obtain the proper numbers of staff, it’s because of the financial constraints that the university has” (SM-5).
  27. 27. Rurality on policy and subsidy for staff development “Rural based universities have a historical constraint of resource challenges, this has partly influenced policy on staff development for part time and auxiliary staff not always catered for in some development opportunities. The idea of having staff to pay for their own staff development is not appealing to staff.” Rurality and the CPD of discipline-specific competencies “Long distance from industry inhibited collaboration, access with legal firms for professional development”.
  28. 28. Key enablers • Management support especially from the DVC academic • Deliberate identification of courses/formal qualifications on teaching in higher education and sending staff members to enrol for these • Funding readily available for staff development from the staff development and training section in the Human Resources Department and the Academic Development Centres.
  29. 29. Key enablers... The structures that have been put in place; School Based Teaching and Learning Committees and the Senate Teaching and Learning Committee Technology as an enabler helps to mitigate some of the challenges imposed by rurality as discerned in the quote below: “If we had enough resources, like video conferencing and a lot of those things were working fairly well, I think we could eliminate what I am going to say, which is the time, because having to drive to Town A, I always feel it’s a waste of my time and I think I’m very pleased it’s this year, because only yesterday I was counting on my way to Town C, I was saying, you know, we’ve been so blessed this year, but it takes us time sometimes to recognize when a bad thing has been lifted from us” ( SM-6)
  30. 30. Implications • Rurality presents both challenges and opportunities for PD • The uptake of developmental opportunities is militated against by some facets of rurality in a cyclic way. • There is need for professional development of managers and academic developers on ways of mitigating the challenges imposed by rurality. • Reconsideration of theoretical frames and pragmatic issues when planning for PD interventions • Institutional policies and strategies on PD need to bargain for, frame, and focus on rurality as it affects PD of lecturers.
  31. 31. DUALITY OF INSTITUTIONS James Garraway and Chris Winberg (Cape Peninsula University of Technology)
  32. 32. Enterprise versus student development The first interesting tension emerging from the data is that of the essential duality of universities as institutions. Following the now well-known work of Burton Clarke (1983) universities function both as enterprises with their managerial and administrative functions and priorities as well as organisations concerned with student learning and development.
  33. 33. Enterprise versus student development In terms of the Burton-Clarke duality, senior management views good teaching as equating to throughput/pass rates whereas staff understand it more in terms of their own and students learning experiences
  34. 34. Our success rate, our pass rates have actually been at a fairly good standard if I may say so, which means … that approach was yielding some results … I just find when I have a new idea and I sit down and I start … you know … hammering it out on the computer I find it so inspiring … and I often find that the students enjoy being taught in a different way to the regular chalk and talk thing. So that has been a virtuous cycle you ought to be able to make a difference … you shouldn’t going through the motions of teaching and what I mean by making a difference would be contributing to the development of people, peoples’ minds and skills in a meaningful kind of way I … think that I’m as much a learner as I am a teacher because I learn from the students every day. the DHET asked us to set us , to stretch ourselves more and set ourselves more challenging targets … we had 78…79% throughput What counts as ‘good’ teaching: Enterprise Vs teaching as Development from managers and staff
  35. 35. Recommendations • teaching needs to be uplifted nationally • more and improved professional development opportunities • teaching conditions need further investigation • history, geography and resources impact teaching e.g. high turnover rural HEIs • casualisation militates against investment in teaching • infrastructure, leadership and admin have impact • taking teaching forward nationally • binary between research and teaching addressed • academics learn from peers – needs acknowledgement and action
  36. 36. Any thoughts regarding recommendations?
  37. 37. Future Plans Colloquium: Professional Development with Regard to the Teaching Role in Higher Education 27 July 2015 Cape Town - please contact us if you would be interested in presenting or attending Book on project Journal special issue on theme
  38. 38. Papers associated with the project Leibowitz, B. and Bozalek, V. 2014. Access to higher education in South Africa: A social realist account. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning. 16 (1), pp 91 - 109. Leibowitz, B., Ndebele, C. and Winberg, C. 2013. The role of academic identity in collaborative research. Studies in Higher Education. DOI:10.1080/03075079.2013.801424 (3 June 2013) Leibowitz, B., van Schalkwyk, S., Ruiters, J., Farmer, J. and Adendorff, H. (2012) “It’s been a wonderful life”: Accounts of the interplay between structure and agency by “good” university teachers. Higher Education 63 353 – 365. Jawitz, J., Williams, K., Pym, J. and Cox, G. 2013. Why we do what we do: Interrogating our academic staff development practice 76. In: T. Tisani and M. Madiba (Eds) Proceedings of the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA) 2012 Conference.ISBN: 978-0-620-55540-1 Publication date: April 2013. MacMillan, W. (on-line, HERD) ‘They have different information about what is going on’: Emotion in the transition to university. CHER-2012-1069.R2 Ndebele, C., (2014). Deconstructing the Narratives of Educational Developers on the Enabling and Constraining Conditions in Their Growth; Development and Roles as Educational Staff Development Facilitators at a South African University. International Journal of Education Science, 6(1), pp.103–115. Quinn, L. and Vorster, J. (2014). Isn’t it time to start thinking about ‘developing’ academic developers in a more systematic way? International Journal for Academic Development. DOI: 10.1080/1360144X.2013.879719 Ndebele, C. (2014). Approach towards the professional development of academics as espoused in institutional policy documents at a South African university. J Soc Sci, 38(3): 255-269 Leibowitz, B., Bozalek, V., Winberg, C. and van Schalkwyk, S. (2014) Institutional Context Matters: the professional development of academics as teachers in South African Higher Education. Higher Education, DOI: 10.1007/s10734-014- 9777-2 Leibowitz, B. (2014) Conducive Environments for the Promotion of Quality Teaching in Higher Education in South Africa. CRISTAL. 2 (1) 49-73 DOI: 10.14426/cristal.v2i1.27