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SU Teaching Fellows 2021
Author: Karin Cattell-Holden
Published: 12/02/2021

​​SU Teaching Fellows 2021

Stellenbosch University (SU) initiated teaching fellowships in 2009 to provide an opportunity for selected academics to develop their teaching expertise and stimulate the growth of the scholarship of teaching and learning at the University. The fellowships provide excellent teachers and scholars of teaching and learning[1] with the opportunity to spend a consistent period of time (between one and three years), with various forms of support, to focus on aspects of curriculum renewal, exploring teaching and learning, and disseminating good teaching and learning practice in departments and faculties. 

The fellowships are funded by the University Capacity Development Grants. SU has awarded 13 fellowships since the inception of the programme in 2009:  Prof. Elmarie Costandius, Prof. Ian Nell, Prof. Dana Niehaus, Prof. Nicola Plastow, Prof. Geo Quinot, Dr Helena Wessels (deceased), Dr Elize Archer, Dr Berna Gerber, Prof. Ingrid Rewitzky, Dr Marianne McKay, Dr Michael Schmeisser, Dr Marianne Unger, and Dr Margaret Blackie. 

Four academics received a Teaching Fellowship for the period 2021 to 2023:
- Dr Taryn Bernard (Extended Degree Programme, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
- Prof. Debby Blaine (Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering)
- Dr Gretha Steenkamp (School of Accountancy, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences), and
- Prof. Susan van Schalkwyk (Director: Centre for Health Professions Education, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences). 

Dr Taryn Bernard is a senior lecturer on the EDP in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences where she teaches academic English to a group of multicultural and multilingual students. She has a background in applied linguistics, particularly methods of critical applied linguistics. These methods have influenced her pedagogical practices as well as her research. Dr Bernard has used these methods to investigate the language of corporate social responsibility, media representations of Marikana, and the complexities of a transforming higher education system. She has previously merged critical methods of applied linguistics with ethnography to shed different light on “the language issue" in South African universities.

The Teaching Fellowship will allow Dr Bernard to continue along the same lines, to engage in an ethnographic project that will use a diverse range of methodologies to “follow" a group of students as they navigate their way through the university system for a period of three years. Particular attention will be paid to language and literacy, and, in drawing on the (critical) tools in which she is well-versed, an analysis of the data will be conducted in such a way so as to shed light on issues of agency and power. Dr Bernard's ultimate goal is to use these insights to adapt her curricula and classroom practice, but she is also excited to share her findings with the broader community and in a way that can make a contribution to the important project of creating an environment that feels welcoming, stimulating and progressive.

Prof. Debby Blaine is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering. She joined SU in 2007, coming from an industry position in Germany as Deputy-Manager of Materials Research and Development at Bleistahl Produktions GmbH & Co. KG. Prof. Blaine is a Matie alum with an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. She also holds a PhD in Engineering Science & Mechanics from the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) in the USA.

Prof. Blaine's disciplinary research area is broadly focused on Materials Engineering, with specific interests in powder metallurgy and sintering science. She worked as a research assistant at Penn State's Centre for Innovative Sintered Products during and after her doctoral studies. During this time, she had the opportunity to guest lecture some undergraduate classes in engineering mechanics and some postgraduate classes in powder metallurgy. It was here that she initially became interested in the possibility of an academic career. Nevertheless, she decided to first gain some industrial experience as an engineer, which is what led her to Germany. While she enjoyed her stint in industry, it also made her realise that her real passion lay in tertiary education.

Prof. Blaine's Teaching Fellowship will focus on exploring and identifying tangible ways in which SU can implement a collective approach to designing inclusive and transformed curricula that meet the needs of our diverse community of students and staff, explored through the context of the Faculty of Engineering. She is excited to start this journey and engage with students and colleagues in discovering new ways of doing things, ways that work in the contemporary space and that widen access and success for everyone.

Dr Gretha Steenkamp teaches Financial Accounting at the School of Accountancy (SoA) in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. She has received several teaching-related awards, including 'best online postgraduate lecturer' at the SoA in 2020. Dr Steenkamp was awarded an SU Teaching Fellowship for the period 2021 to 2022. During this time, she will focus on embedding certain graduate attributes into the programmes offered by the SoA.

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) accredits the BAcc, BAccHons and PGDip programmes at the SoA. SAICA recently launched its new “CA2025 competency framework" (CA2025 CF) which places greater emphasis on the professional values and enabling competencies (or acumens) that chartered accountants should have. These are akin to graduate attributes and include aspects such as citizenship, critical and integrated thinking, and digital acumen. These graduate attributes need to be explicitly developed by the SAICA-accredited programmes, and Dr Steenkamp will drive the project at the SoA to implement the changes required as a result. Implementing the changes required by the CA2025 CF in the SAICA-accredited programme is a strategic priority for the SoA.

Prof. Susan van Schalkwyk is Professor in Health Professions Education and Director of the Centre for Health Professions Education in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at SU. Her work encompasses multiple facets of health professions education scholarship including the supervision of Master's and PhD students, and faculty development. She is currently the PI of a multi-institutional study that is placing undergraduate curricula under the spotlight in terms of their potential to deliver graduates who are both clinically competent AND critically conscious of the contexts within which they will work.

Prof. Van Schalkwyk is a member of both the international AMEE Research and Faculty Development Committees, chair of the AMEE Doctoral Report Award panel, and recently completed a four year term as member of the editorial board of MedEdPublish. She is an associate editor for the African Journal of Health Professions Education, Advances in Health Sciences Education and The Clinical Teacher, and serves on the editorial advisory board of CRiSTaL (Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning). She is a founding member of the Bellagio Global Health Education Initiative and has served on the AMEE Aspire to Excellence international board.

A C rated researcher with the South African National Research Foundation, Prof. Van Schalkwyk has authored or co-authored more than 80 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters with an H-index of 12 (Scopus) and 20 (Google Scholar). Susan is an honorary SAFRI fellow, and became an AMEE Fellow in 2019. In 2017 she received an SU Teaching Excellence Award in the category of Distinguished Teacher, and in 2018 received a CHE/HELTASA National Teaching Excellence Award. 

The mentorship of emerging scholars has been central to much of Prof. Van Schalkwyk's work over the past ten years. In 2009 she established a group for members of staff who, over and above their academic responsibilities, were also seeking to complete their PhDs. In 2011 a similar group was established at the FMHS that has been running ever since. Over the years she has, as a result of connections made with these students (later graduates) and their supervisors, informally served as mentor, coach and sounding board for many emerging scholars and young academics looking to advance their careers in academia. This work served as catalyst for the project that she will embark on as part of her SU Teaching Fellowship.

The CTL would like to congratulate these colleagues and thank them for their contributions to teaching and learning at SU. We wish them all the best for their fellowships.

For more information, please contact Dr Karin Cattell-Holden,                 

[1] “[E]xcellent teachers and scholars of teaching and learning" refer to lecturers who research their teaching practice, drawing on educational literature, and contribute to the body of teaching and learning knowledge through publishing their findings.

On the photograph from left to right:  Dr Taryn BernardProf. Debby BlaineDr Gretha Steenkamp and Prof. Susan van Schalkwyk​.