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Learning and Teaching Enhancement Virtual Seminar: Dr Margaret Blackie (25 March 2021)
Author: Anthea Jacobs
Published: 28/12/2020

​Learning and Teaching Enhancement Virtual Seminar: 25 March 2021

You are invited to the first seminar of the 2021 Virtual Learning and Teaching Enhancement Seminars under the auspices of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (L&T), Prof Deresh Ramjugernath, and the Division of Learning and Teaching Enhancement.



Can and should assessment nurture an orientation to society and social justice?



Dr Margaret Blackie


Short biography

Dr Margaret Blackie is a senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science. She was the recipient of the South African Chemical Institute’s Education Medal and the SU Teaching Award in the Distinguished Teacher category in 2020. She also holds an SU Teaching Fellowship. She has research interests in synthetic chemistry and in education, and she teaches Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science, Faculty of Science at SU.



This seminar explores the connections that can be made between how we assess students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) disciplines and nurturing an orientation to wider society, by which we mean a sense of interconnectedness between oneself and others. From a critical theory perspective, education should facilitate movement from a conception of the individual as autonomous towards the individual as a member of a larger society. We describe a longitudinal study among chemistry and chemical engineering undergraduate students at universities in the UK, South Africa and the USA. Only a very small number of students display any orientation to society through their responses to assessment tasks. This result is surprising, and somewhat distressing, because there are a number of socially-related assessment tasks within the curricula of most programmes researched. Thus it becomes evident that more may be required to achieve higher education oriented to society and social justice than simply the deliberate inclusion of socially-related activities in the curriculum or as assessment tasks.


This seminar is a small part of a large project is entitled ‘Understanding Knowledge and Student Agency’ is an international collaboration led by Prof Paul Ashwin at Lancaster University. Margaret Blackie will deliver the seminar, but the paper which is currently under peer review is authored by Jan McArthur, Margaret Blackie, Nicole Pitterson and Kayleigh Rosewell.


Time: 13:00-14:00 on 25 March 2021 on MS Teams


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Enquiries: Anthea Jacobs (