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Towards the Theorized Development of the Teaching and Learning Capabilities of the Next Generation of Academics Saleem Badat Carnegie Corporation Conference.

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Presentation on theme: "Towards the Theorized Development of the Teaching and Learning Capabilities of the Next Generation of Academics Saleem Badat Carnegie Corporation Conference."— Presentation transcript:

1 Towards the Theorized Development of the Teaching and Learning Capabilities of the Next Generation of Academics Saleem Badat Carnegie Corporation Conference Developing and Retaining the Next Generation of African Academics: Excellence, Retention, and Sustainability 1

2 Purposes Cultivation of highly educated people…………. Dissemination of knowledge …….Learning and teaching (Newman) Enhance understanding of the natural and social worlds…..Production of knowledge….. Research (Humboldt) Contribute to developing communities...... …Community engagement….Service Learning 2

3 A road map A Core Purpose……..and Goal The Problem Why we can’t neglect T&L……and More reasons why we can’t neglect T&L Some key issues for T&L T&L Agenda……and Implications for Practice Back to the Problem Central argument…..and Critical tasks……and Critical issues What is to be done? 3

4 A Core Purpose To form and cultivate the cognitive character of students Also intimately connected to the idea of democratic citizenship, and The “cultivation of humanity” (Nussbaum) Universities are tasked with the arduous formation of a critical, creative and compassionate citizenry 4

5 Goal To produce graduates that ideally: Can think effectively and critically Achieve depth in some field of knowledge Have a critical appreciation of the ways in which we gain knowledge and understanding of the universe, of society, and of ourselves Test the inherited knowledge of earlier generations Dismantle the mumbo jumbo that masquerades for knowledge Are decent human beings 5

6 The Problem Teaching and learning (T&L) - a fundamentally important activity, yet often neglected Tendency to regard it as an innate ability or commonsense activity. “… the distinctive feature of common sense is not that its beliefs and assumptions are true but that it is a style of thinking in which the truth of these beliefs and assumptions is regarded as self-evident and taken for granted. What is commonsensical is ipso facto unquestionable and does not need to be justified” (Carr, drawing on Antonio Gramsci). 6

7 Why we can’t neglect T&L 1.African universities largely undergraduate teaching institutions 2.Postgraduate programs involve degree of T&L 3.T&L based on common sense notions unwittingly compromises important goals and alienates significant portions of the student body 4.Achievement of academic literacy is a struggle for portion of students - requires attention 5.Academy’s ‘ways of knowing’ foreign to some students - greater diversity means this needs attention 7

8 6.Changing social composition of student body - profound new T&L challenges for academics and universities 7.Challenges related to the ‘under-preparedness’ of students for higher learning 8.Challenges related to drop-out, pass, throughput and graduation rates, which result in wastage of talent and scarce financial resources 9.PhD or Masters not a guarantee of academic expertise in higher education T&L 8

9 More reasons why we can’t neglect T&L Equity of opportunity and outcomes depend crucially on supportive institutional environments and cultures; curriculum innovation; appropriate learning and teaching strategies and methods; appropriate induction and support, and effective academic mentoring - require far more than a set of generic teaching skills; necessitate sustained and careful engagement 9

10 The challenge of opportunity must be viewed as part of a wider project of democratising access to knowledge and the production of knowledge. This means that beyond providing students formal access, it is also vital to ensure ‘epistemological access’. This epistemological access is central not only to issues such as throughput and graduation rates but also to the very institution of the university itself and to the role it can play in development and democracy in African societies 10

11 Some key issues for T&L 1.Kinds and configuration of knowledge, competencies, skills and attitudes that graduates require 2.Increasingly diverse social and educational backgrounds and experiences of students 3.The need to constantly unpack the assumed constants in our disciplines/fields and interrogate what we and our students have learned to take for granted 11

12 T&L Agenda T&L programs are thoughtfully and rigorously conceptualized and designed to achieve clearly and explicitly articulated goals T&L programs are effectively implemented Mechanisms exist to critically monitor and review the quality of T&L programs Academics possess the necessary capabilities with respect to high quality T&L University has the capacity and capabilities to assure and enhance the quality of T&L programs and the capabilities of academics with respect to T&L 12

13 Implications for Practice Agenda for teaching and learning, curriculum, pedagogy and assessment in Africa, raises serious epistemological, ontological and other issues. Have to discard the misguided naturalisation of the practice of T&L, which perpetuates its neglect, and also rethink the unadulterated privileging of research over T&L. 13

14 Back… to the Problem Inadequate critical discussion on T&L issues in academic departments, faculties, institutions and nationally. Little appreciation that the educational process – including curriculum frameworks, their underlying assumptions, course design, and approaches to delivery and assessment - is neither immutable nor a technical or neutral issue That it is ‘historically’ and ‘socially’ constructed’ and a significant variable that affects performance and determines who succeeds. 14

15 Central argument Have to ensure that the next generation of academics is intellectually and academically equipped not only for research but also for T&L, and CE, and to contribute to the transformation and development of Africa’s universities Means that preparation of next generation must be more varied and extensive than just research training, and must include exposure to and support in various other issues and activities 15

16 Critical tasks Preparation of next generation of academics must also Give attention to the theorized development of their teaching and learning capabilities Equip them to address institutional culture and transformation issues and how to strategically navigate the structures and processes of universities Otherwise will fail to adequately prepare the next generation for the demands of academic work and university transformation and development 16

17 Critical issues Given the challenges and tasks, not merely ‘skills’ improvement ‘or ‘tips for better teaching’ Serious preparation of next generation for T&L needs A rigorously theorised approach which includes deep reflection on contextual realities Research, as theorised approach to T&L and sustained improvements cannot occur in its absence 17

18 What is to be done? 1.Accepted that it takes extended period of induction, practice, mentoring and support to develop as a researcher.  Necessary to recognize that teaching is a critical scholarly endeavour - scholarship of teaching (Boyer). To become an effective higher education teacher also requires an extensive period of induction, practice, mentoring and support. 18

19 2.In the same way as theory, methodology and methods are explicitly taught as part of the grounding of a researcher  It is also necessary to ground the next generation of academics in the theories of knowledge and of teaching and learning, curriculum and pedagogy; and in engaging with a diverse student body, the nature and assessment of student learning, and the induction of students into disciplines and knowledge production 19

20 Outline of a L&T Program Guided by certain core values and principles: social justice, transformation and development, inclusion, diversity and ethical excellence, collaboration, sustainability and integration of research, teaching and learning, and community engagement Confer on the next generation academic the status of an academic, as opposed to a postdoctoral fellow or student, while providing her/him with structured development opportunities 20

21 Build expertise in T&L through teaching development courses, teaching experience, participation in academic departmental activities, mentoring by experienced academics, etc. Program on developing T&L capabilities should include building competence for research on T&L - fostering the scholarship of T&L would be an invaluable contribution to enhancing the T&L capabilities of next generation academics and the institutional capacities of their universities. 21

22 T&L Hubs/Centres Giving serious attention to T&L requires an institutional hub with the knowledge and expertise to enhance and support T&L. Would be strategic to develop such expertise through deploying some next generation academics to focus on academic staff development The T&L expertise of university leaders also needs to be built. Carnegie goal of also ‘developing and retaining the next generation of African university leaders’ provides the scope for this. 22

23 ICT’s in L&T ICT’s can enhance quality at contact universities if appropriately deployed as part of T&L strategies. Of importance - pedagogic value of ICT’s should not be overstated and their human and other costs should not be underestimated. ICT’s not a panacea for various T&L problems - will not deliver higher quality education per se, especially if little thought is given to the underpinning principles of T&L and to issues of program design and delivery, student support, assessment, quality assurance, etc. 23

24 Outcomes of a L&T Program The development of the next generation of academics as professional educators who possess the requisite T&L capabilities, can contribute to the development of the T&L capacities of African universities, and can support the transformation of universities. 24

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