Centre for Teaching and Learning
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TLA Seminars

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​During each term, the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL)​ organises a Teaching and Learning seminar, under the auspices of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (TLA​), Prof Deresh Ramjugernath, and the Division of Learning and Teaching Enhancement.  The seminars aim to promote the scholarship of teaching and learning.  SU Teaching Fellows share their research, innovations and experiences about ​teaching and learning and lively discussion follows. ​

​​​ 16 May 202​4

  • The classroom  as an assemblage of places​​
  •  Taryn Bernard
  •   View PDF version

Dr Bernard's paper was situated in an interdisciplinary context in accordance with the views of Gulsen and Symes (2007:97) that educational theory “takes its cues from other disciplines" and that educationalists tend to be followers of broad epistemological “turns" rather than initiating them. She acknowledged the decolonial turn in South African Higher Education (HE) contexts while, at the same time, drawing on the work of critical geographers like Harvey (1996) and Massey (2005) as well as ideas emanating from the “spatial turn" – a turn which HE practitioners in South Africa have not (yet) taken up in a systematic way, according to Dr Bernard.


​Dr Bernard's presentation portrayed the findings of her Teaching Fellowship research project. She used three years of visual, ethnographic data that she had collected from a group of multilingual students at Stellenbosch University to understand how they experience Stellenbosch as a 'place'. Dr Bernard highlighted how attention to 'space' and spatial theory contributes to nuanced and sophisticated understandings of diversity, access, inclusion, and exclusion. Discussing the key role that positionality plays in the formation and re-formation of the plethora of identities contained in one person, Dr Bernard explained that examining Stellenbosch from a spatial perspective is not about creating new problems; rather, it is about providing explanatory frameworks that can disrupt what we think we know, and, in the process, put forward new possibilities for teaching, learning and assessment. In Dr Bernard's words, teaching should be about “border-crossing" as well as “bridge-building".​

Dr Bernard's presentation took the form of a critical self-reflection in which she contemplated the process of “becoming an ethnographer". She wove her data together with theory and, at the end, grounded her theoretical reflections in concrete examples of how attention to 'space' has changed her pedagogical practices


  • Gulson, K.N. & Symes, C. (2007) Knowing one's place: space, theory, education. Critical Studies in Education, 48(1): 97-110. DOI: 10.1080/17508480601123750
  • Harvey, D. (1996) From space to place and back again. In: Bird, J., Curtis, B., Putnam, T. & Tickner, L. (eds.). Mapping the future: Local cultures, global change. London: Routledge. Pp. 3-29.
  • Massey, D. (2005) For space. London: Sage.

Please refer to the presentation slides for further references or contact Dr Bernard directly.

​​​ 14 March 202​4

  • Models of doctoral supervision in health professions education: process and power ​​
  •  Susan van Schalkwyk
  •   View PDF version

Prof. Van Schalkwyk described insights gleaned from her work on doctoral supervision which, amongst others, had explored the experience of being supervised, or supervising others, during a series of interviews (some online) with 23 doctoral candidates and 10 supervisors across 10 countries. She shared the ever-evolving nature of the supervisory relationship, including drivers for new models and approaches. This work has implications for opening up conversations about doctoral supervision, revisiting the approaches we adopt, and critically engaging with notions of knowledge and power.

Prof. Van Schalkwyk’s presentation represented the findings of her Teaching research project.
             S van Schalkwyk.jpg


  • McKenna, S; Van Schalkwyk, S. (2023). A scoping review of the changing landscape of doctoral education. COMPARE. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057925.2023.2168121

  • Van Schalkwyk, S; Jacobs, C. (2021). Borders and tensions in Doctoral Writing. In: Badenhorst C; Amell and B & Burford J. (eds). Re-imagining doctoral writing. WAC Clearing House: Colorado.

Please refer to the presentation slides for further references or contact Prof. Van Schalkwyk directly.​

​​​ 16 March 2023​​​

  • Infusing research-mindedness in a Psychology Honours module ​​
  •  Ashraf Kagee
  •   View PDF version

Having taught research methods modules to undergraduate and postgraduate Psychology students since 2003, Prof. Kagee is convinced that “it is not only what students know but how they come to know it". The research module in Psychology Honours that he teaches therefore brings into focus a reliance on an evidentiary base to support claims to truth in psychology. However, Prof. Kagee has encountered various barriers to teaching this module. 


Some psychology students do not understand the need to learn research methods; some are dismayed at having to take compulsory modules in research methods; for some, scientific thinking is inappropriately applied to psychology; there is sometimes scepticism about whether psychological experiences can and should be measured; and methodology and ideology are seen to coincide by some students and academics.

As a participant in the 2021-2022 TAU (Teaching Advancement at University) Fellowship Programme, Prof. Kagee had to conceptualise, execute and evaluate a research project. The aim of his project was to recurriculate the Research Methods 771 module in Psychology Honours, developing an approach to teaching research methods that engages with the above-mentioned barriers and convinces students that research methods are integral to learning about psychology and can be interesting and fun. He related the module to the SU graduate attributes and also increased its social relevance, demonstrating that technical knowledge of research methods can be applied in the service of a greater social good. Prof. Kagee furthermore emphasized that research methods are not apolitical – like science, they are contextually embedded and influenced by history, power, and material conditions. 


  • Diab, M., Veronese, G., Jamei, Y. A., & Kagee, A. (2020). The interplay of paradigms: Decolonizing a psychology curriculum in the context of the siege of Gaza. Nordic Psychology, 72(3), 183–198.
  • Howard, C., & Brady, M. (2015). Teaching social research methods after the critical turn: challenges and benefits of a constructivist pedagogy. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 18(5), 511–525.​​
  • Kagee, A. (2006b). Where is the evidence in South African clinical psychology? South African Journal of Psychology, 36(2).

​​​ 11 May 2023​​

  • A capstone project to enhance entrepreneurial and other critical skills in students of selected AgriSciences Departments​​
  •  Albert Strever
  •   View PDF Ve​rsion

Dr Strever's Teaching Advancement at University (TAU) fellowship project (2022-2023) focused on identifying ways to integrate entrepreneurial and other future-critical skills into a capstone project. The project was designed to develop a focused strategy in the Faculty of AgriSciences that could meet the demands of preparing students for the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) environment they will face as graduates.


Although some Departments within the Faculty already offer limited exposure to entrepreneurship and related aspects, there is an increasing need for a comprehensive and focused strategy, also in line with the University’s current Game Changer projects. The project also involved interaction with other faculties to learn from their experience and has initiated a community of practice within the AgriSciences faculty to address this need. The objective is to minimise disruption to the current curricula while developing a shared resource base for teaching, learning, and assessment related to entrepreneurship and other relevant competencies. The project led to successful changes to one Department’s module descriptions to implement the capstone principle, which is currently in process over three study years in the BScAgric (Viticulture & Oenology) programme. The project's efforts are also complemented by an industrial engineering research assignment, which aims to develop a "radar" for competencies and technologies related to agriculture, which will be discussed briefly.


31 August 2023​​

  • Curriculum Program Renewal: Balancing Clinical Competence and Critical Skills Development​​
  •  Marianne Unger
  •   View PDF version

The increasing demand for producing graduates capable of making a difference requires professional programs in health sciences to help students learn skills and develop attributes that extend beyond clinical competence. An already overloaded curriculum and student and staff wellness are currently major threats to the success of our physiotherapy program. However, problem-based learning (PBL) provides an opportunity for students to develop the critical skills (“power skills”) of collaboration, communication, leadership, advocacy and scholarship – the building blocks of a curriculum – while simultaneously learning physiotherapy and developing clinical competence. Bringing real-world problems into the classroom provides those tipping moments for transformation.


Prof. Unger emphasised that integrated scaffolding is key to the success of PBL. Using complex learning theory (the 4C-ID model) to integrate scaffolding could yield benefits such as improving knowledge construction and deeper learning, and dealing with complexity without losing sight of separate elements and the relationship between those elements. If carefully designed and starting on day one of year one, the issues of fragmentation, compartmentalisation, and the transfer paradox, typical of hierarchical modular curricula, can be addressed.

Prof. Unger views programme renewal as reflection- and research-based. It is not only a paper process, but also a people management process. Change management and leadership are required to get both students and lecturers comfortable with “not knowing” and accepting change. In programme renewal, process is therefore more important than product.


  • Frerejean, J., Dolmans, D.H., & van Merrienboer, J.J. (2022). Research on instructional design in the health professions: from taxonomies of learning to whole‐task models. Researching Medical Education, 291-302.
  • Mezirow, J. (2018). Transformative learning theory. In Contemporary theories of learning (pp. 114-128). Routledge.
  • Yew, E.H., & Goh, K. (2016). Problem-based learning: An overview of its process and impact on learning. Health Professions Education, 2(2), 75-79.

19 October 2023

  • Embedding student graduate attributes in accounting education ​​
  •  Gretha Steenkamp
  •   View PDF version
The new CA2021/CA of the Future Competency Framework (CF) has brought the level of non-technical skills or “soft skills" up to the level of technical competencies. Accountants are expected to have well-developed non-technical skills (Tsiligiris & Bowyer, 2021). Non-technical skills, such as ethics, citizenship, critical thinking, communication and teamwork can be viewed as graduate attributes and their development should be integrated into the core technical modules of an academic programme (Barrie, 2007; Miller & Willows, 2023; Terblanche & De Clercq, 2021). 

Prof. Steenkamp's presentation focused on a case study at the School of Accountancy, where programme renewal was undertaken to embed the development of the CA2021 graduate attributes into the academic programme. These attributes can be divided into three sections:

  • professional values and attitudes (ethics, citizenship, lifelong learning),
  • enabling competencies or “acumens" (business acumen, decision-making acumen, relational acumen, digital acumen), and
  • technical competencies.​

Prof. Steenkamp was the implementation leader of the renewal. Two big changes were initiated: new modules in digital acumen, and a student portfolio of evidence. Prof. Steenkamp discussed several related innovations, including a critical thinking block in first year, a workshop on relational and decision-making acumen, developing citizenship values through social innovation upskilling, employing blended active learning, and a student portfolio of evidence on the graduate attributes to facilitate reflection. Upskilling was provided for all lecturers, to promote knowledge and “organic" changes. 

Several “organic" projects – innovations with a scholarly approach and various co-authors – came into being:

  • Defining and developing critical thinking in Financial Accounting
  • Critical thinking “block" in FinAcc178
  • Relational & decision-making acumen workshop with PGDA students
  • 2nd and 3rd year integration projects
  • Social innovation workshop (citizenship as value)
  • Blended active learning in a postgraduate research module in Accounting.​

​The case study provided evidence of how graduate attributes can be embedded into the core technical modules of an academic programme, and could be useful for educators in other disciplines.  ​​


  • Simon C. Barrie (2007) A conceptual framework for the teaching and learning of generic graduate attributes. Studies in Higher Education, 32:4, 439-458, DOI: 10.1080/03075070701476100
  • Taryn Miller & Gizelle Demarie Willows (2023) Preparing accounting students to be responsible leaders. Accounting Education. DOI: 10.1080/09639284.2023.2228291
  • E.A.J. Terblanche & B. De Clercq (2021) A critical thinking competency framework for accounting students. Accounting Education, 30:4, 325-354, DOI: 10.1080/09639284.2021.1913614
  • Vangelis Tsiligiris & Dorothea Bowyer (2021) Exploring the impact of 4IR on skills and personal qualities for future accountants: a proposed conceptual framework for university accounting education. Accounting Education, 30:6, 621-649, DOI: 10.1080/09639284.2021.1938616

​​​ 20 October 2022​​

  • Curriculum transformation in science: Staff and postgraduate student engagement with decoloniality​​​
  •  Dr Marianne McKay

Modern Western science is entangled with colonialism (Roy, 2018) and positivist paradigms that view socially constructed knowledge as irrelevant or inferior. Issues of decoloniality and social justice in science are complex (Ally, 2018) and challenging to incorporate into technical curricula. Therefore, Marianne’s 2021 TAU (Teaching Advancement at University) fellowship project sought to establish how staff and postgraduate students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) faculties at SU view and engage with decoloniality, given that the institution’s Transformation Plan specifically refers to Africanisation and decolonisation as requirements in teaching and learning (T&L).


Institutional ethical clearance was obtained (TL-2021-23895). Conversations with staff and postgraduates were recorded and transcribed. Following a grounded-theory approach, transcribed content was systematically coded in three iterative rounds of comparative analysis. Results highlight the barriers that staff experience regarding these issues, including confusion and anxiety, a perceived lack of systemic support or recognition for transformative T&L, and insufficient knowledge on how to implement change. Thus, to achieve social justice outcomes in science T&L at SU, staff require training and support in “cultural competencies” (Demosthenous, 2013) and ways to incorporate self and student voices in contrapuntal approaches. The research findings and recommendations contribute to the existing knowledge base regarding decoloniality in STEM. They also highlight the critical importance of ensuring that the SU Transformation Policy (currently in draft form) “commits to the commitment” by ensuring that staff and students are empowered with, and recognised for, competencies that prioritise Africanisation and decolonisation during curriculum renewal, leading to a truly transformative and inclusive student learning experience.​

​​​ 8 September 2022​​

  • Introducing broader humanities and arts concepts into the biomedical science curriculum​​​
  •  Prof. Faadiel Essop

Prof. Essop’s TAU (Teaching Advancement at University) fellowship project focused on the notion that scientists/engineers often view their discipline as ‘’neutral’’ and therefore devoid of any socio-political and historical contexts. This “scientific elitism” can therefore seemingly absolve scientists from such contexts, e.g. past injustices committed during apartheid as well as contemporary pressing issues like equity redress and decolonization.


​ ​

With the Covid-19 pandemic, scientists have been increasingly thrust into the public domain, often required to respond to outlandish claims/conspiracies and to defend the scientific enterprise itself. However, such responses require deep and critical insights into the nature of the scientific process (e.g. weaknesses, strengths, philosophies, and socio-cultural-political contexts) and its ideal to arrive at coherent truths. There is thus a gap in the training of scientists to be better equipped to operate in the ‘’post-truth’’ world. The aim of the TAU fellowship was to develop a new Honours module in Medical Physiology and to assess its uptake by students and its potential impact. Here the idea is to establish a suitable pedagogical framework for the introduction of broader humanities and arts concepts into the biomedical science curriculum. This should aid the creation of a transformative teaching and learning experience, leading to well-rounded graduates (with strengthened graduate attributes) who are better equipped and trained to handle (and lead) some of the contemporary, societal challenges we face.


​​​ 25 August 2022​​

  • Active Feedback​​
  •  Prof. David Nicol and Suzanne McCallum

The SU Teaching Fellows, together with the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL), hosted a research seminar for the SU academic community on 25 August 2022. The topic of the seminar was 'active feedback', or 'What if students generate their own feedback?'

The online seminar was presented by two guest speakers, Prof. David Nicol and Suzanne McCallum from the Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow. Nicol and McCallum collaborate in researching this topic and have published extensively on their findings.


​ The seminar focused on the power of comparison in making students' inner feedback visible to them and growing their sense of agency in the process. When students receive feedback comments from a lecturer, they are asked to compare those comments against their work, and they (hopefully) generate new understanding out of that comparison. In this conception of feedback, lecturers provide comments on students' work and students generate (inner) feedback. But what if students were asked to compare their work against information other than lecturers' feedback, for example, a textbook, video, diagram, journal article, rubric or some combination thereof? Research done by Nicol and McCallum shows that, when students are deliberately prompted to do this and to make their inner feedback explicit as well (for example, in writing), the results are remarkable. Not only does this method enhance the depth and scope of students' learning, but, importantly, it also develops their capacity to regulate their own learning, the goal of most higher education programmes. Furthermore, teachers can scale up feedback to all students without scaling up their workload.

Nicol introduced participants to the thinking behind this method and McCallum demonstrated its implementation, using a range of disciplinary examples. It became clear that generating their own feedback enables students to transfer their learning to new contexts. Active feedback is therefore directly linked to learning-centred teaching.

Participants were invited to interact with the presenters throughout the seminar and explored the possible application of active feedback to their modules. They were also invited to research this method further with Nicol and McCallum.

More information about David Nicol and Suzanne McCallum is available from www.davidnicol.net and https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/business/staff/suzannemccallum/. ​

​​ 12 May 2022​​

  • Towards using complexity theory to guide programme evaluation in the Faculty of Science​​​
  •  Prof Ingrid Rewitzky

In the context of programme renewal at SU, it’s important to have an effective programme evaluation framework that also focuses on the dynamic nature of learning. This requires a shift from a linear approach of programme evaluation with four basic components – inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes – to an approach that understands the multi-level outcomes emerging in programmes. In this seminar a framework for programme evaluation is presented that embeds the five principles of complexity theory – networks, emergence, self-organisation, feedback sensitivity and agility.​​​

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​​ 11 March 2022​​

  • Curriculum Renewal for Holistic Learning​​
  •  Prof Debby Blaine​

As lecturers at Stellenbosch University, we should be embodying our institutional values of excellence, compassion, equity, respect and accountability in all of our endeavours. Curriculum renewal offers us an exemplary opportunity to live these values through providing spaces to co-create innovative and inclusive learning environments that allow us to realise our vision of being globally recognised as Africa’s leading research-intensive university. By creating integrative and holistic learning environments (Quinlan, 2014) that are designed to balance the curriculum domains of knowledge (epistemology), self/attributes (ontology) and action/practice (practical) (Barnett, 2000; Barnett et al, 2001, Gilmore et al, 2017), we can move closer to this goal. In this seminar, examples from engineering education are presented within this framework, to showcase ways that lecturers can leverage their knowledge and expertise through providing enriching learning experiences that guide students in their development of professional attributes and disciplinary insight, thus preparing them for engaging productively in a complex, diverse and rapidly-changing world.​​


​​ 21 October​​ ​​20​21​​

  • A whole new world: Bridging the gap between critical digital pedagogies and the (new) automated virtual teaching and learning environment​​​
  •  Dr Sonja Strydom​​
  •   View PDF Ve​rsion

Much has been written about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, automation and 21st-century skills. These narratives have also found their way into the higher education domain. Globally, it is expected of higher education institutions to be forward-thinking and embrace new technological advancements, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. 


This seminar will emphasise the importance of critically considering these two worlds, which ask of us to respond to the unique contextual needs of students in different institutions while, simultaneously, developing a deeper understandding of the opportunities and impact that automation and, specifically, artificial intelligence in education can offer. The seminar serves as a first step in raising awareness and opening the discussion about these important components and about how we, as lecturers and professional administrative support services staff, can continue to respond to this within Stellenbosch University and the broader higher education learning environment.​​​

​​  09 September​ ​​20​21​​

  • Forward together in Learning and Teaching at Stellenbosch University: Where to next?​​​
  •  Prof D Ramjugernath​

From ERTLA to ARTLA; from blended learning support to hybrid learning projects; from the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning to the Scholarship of Educational Leadership: Where are we heading to next and how will we get there? Prof Ramjugernath shares his insights and vision for learning and teaching at Stellenbosch University, and contemplates the question: Where to next? ​


How do we use our institutional mechanisms, such as programme review and renewal and the SOTL conference to meaningfully enhance the quality of our students’ learning experience? How do we ride the next technological waves, without drowning in increased workload or being drawn into a whirlpool of pandemic-fuelled despair? 

In the year where we have decided to grapple with issues of assessment, and with an institutional audit looming, how do we critically evaluate ourselves and care-fully reflect on where we should be going? How do we plan when a tidal wave of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity seems ready to break?

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​​  13 May ​​20​21​​

  • The problem with time-limited, sit-down tests: Assessing language​​
  •  Prof Christa van der Walt​
  •   View PDF Ve​rsion

Christa van der Walt is a professor in the Department of Curriculum Studies at Stellenbosch University, where she is currently also Vice-Dean: Research. Her research focuses on multilingual learning and teaching, and the development of academic literacies. She has published widely, contributing chapters to 16 books, of which she has co-edited three, and authored the book Multilingual higher education, published by Multilingual Matters in 2013. A forthcoming publication is a book co-edited with Dr V Pfeiffer, entitled Multilingual classroom contexts: Transitions and transactions, published by SunMedia.


Education is not known as a field that changes easily and rapidly. During lockdown it had to re-think teaching and assessment practices not only quickly but also under pressure. Like all creatures in the face of stressful situations, educators had to choose between fighting and fleeing, neither of which is conducive to carefully planned and executed teaching. Assessment was probably the most difficult aspect to manage in these times. In this paper I will discuss some of the problems we face when assessing language-related topics. From my own perspective of training language teachers, I will argue that our traditional time-limited, sit-down tests have their own problems that have been masked by their familiarity and our resistance to change. This will be done in the context of international perspectives on the validity and reliability of online assessments and controversial practices like proctoring and ‘automatic’ assessments.​

​​  25 March ​20​21​​

  • Can and should assessment nurture an orientation to society and social justice?​​
  •  Dr Margaret Blackie
  •   View PDF Version

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.

  26 November ​20​​20​​

  • Reflecting on two terms as Vice Rector (Learning and Teaching)
  •  Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel​

Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel is the outgoing Vice-Rector (Learning and Teaching). He was appointed to the Rectorate in 2013, after completing two terms as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering. Apart from sending Africa’s first satellite into space and supervising Master’s and PhD theses and dissertations, he also taught Control Systems while riding a unicycle, which is a pedagogical approach that has not yet been peer reviewed or benchmarked against good practice. Prof Schoonwinkel obtained his Master’s of Engineering at Stellenbosch University, his PhD in Stanford and an MBA at UCT. ​



As part of the process of “collective sense-making and reflection” to which our Policy for Quality Assurance and Enhancement at Stellenbosch University (SU, 2019) subscribes, Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel will deliberate on the successes, challenges and opportunities related to the Learning and Teaching Enhancement portfolio, created in 2013. 

During his terms, his responsibility centre (RC) responded to the #FeesMustFall movement, calls for a decolonised curriculum and the current COVID-19 pandemic. He has overseen several institutional projects, including the Programme Renewal and Hybrid Learning projects which is aligned to the University’s Vision 2040 and Strategic Framework 2019-2024 and its core strategic themes: A transformative student experience and Networked and collaborative teaching and learning, contributing to A thriving Stellenbosch University

Prof Schoonwinkel started his first term with a newly restructured RC. By revising the membership of the Academic Planning Committee, Committee for Learning and Teaching and the Quality Committee, he strengthened the roles and responsibilities of the Vice Deans (Teaching and Learning), and promoted the Scholarship of Educational Leadership (SoEL), as well as the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in general. 

His terms have seen Stellenbosch University accept a new Language Policy in 2016, a revised Teaching and Learning Policy in 2018 and a new Quality Assurance and Enhancement Policy in 2019. Only one of these landed him in the Constitutional Court.

  23 September ​20​​20​​

  • Academic agency and hope: beyond COVID-19
  •  Dr Melanie Skead​
  •   View PDF Version

Melanie Skead is the Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning. She started off lecturing in English Studies and has been active in the domain of higher education academic development since 2003. She holds a PhD in English and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Academic Development from Rhodes University. Previously she has been manager of learning advancement at the University of Fort Hare, senior manager of teaching development at Nelson Mandela University, and senior lecturer in the Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning at Rhodes University before joining Stellenbosch University in 2018. 



Her research interests include the transformation of higher education through social justice, decoloniality, equity and academic agency in curriculum-making and systemic change. 

​​In a relatively short time, much has been written on the global pandemic that has brought the world to a halt. In the midst of this crisis, we are challenged to see the possibilities for a renewed “pedagogy of hope,” to not “succumb to fatalism” but to “muster the strength we absolutely need for a fierce struggle that will re-create the world’’ (Freire, 2014). 

This seminar will be an opportunity to reflect on notions of academic agency and how its achievement opens up possibilities for thinking and doing differently, beyond the COVID-19 moment. Agency is “an emergent phenomenon” (Priestley et al. 2015) and has the capacity to critically shape responses to challenging situations (Biesta, 2006). It is not something people have, but something they do (Priestley et al. 2015). The COVID-19 moment will impact on future agency and holds significant possibilities for renewal. We might, for example, emerge beyond COVID-19 with deepened compassion, humanity and wisdom. Our university could be shaped anew as a place where hope and humanity flourish and where measurement does not reign supreme. 

Bandura reminds us that “to be an agent is to intentionally make things happen by one’s actions”. Agency enables “people to play a part in their self-development, adaptation, and self-renewal with changing times” (Bandura, 2001). 

This seminar will highlight academic agency as a commitment to action that functions individually and collectively. Such action could manifest as resistance, transformation and innovation. Resistance to complacency carries possibilities for a discursive, constructive process of introspection, reflection and dialogue. We need to create favourable conditions for meaningful change not only in spite of, but also because of this crisis moment. Hope lies in realising that we are not just onlookers, but “agents of experiences” (Bandura, 2001). How might we use our agency to enrich our own and our students’ experiences and environment at Stellenbosch University beyond COVID-19?

  6 August 20​​20​​

  • “Can excellence ​​'turn'? Rethinking teaching excellence awards for the public good"
  •  Dr Karin Cattell-Holden
  •   View PDF Version

Dr Karin Cattell-Holden, senior advisor at the Stellenbosch University (SU) Centre for Teaching and Learning, was the presenter at the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Seminar on the 06th of August 2020. The topic of her presentation was “Can excellence 'turn'? Rethinking teaching excellence awards for the public good".


​​​​In this seminar Dr Cattell-Holden discussed the individualist focus of the teaching excellence awards at SU and proposed a re-contextualised approach to the awards in response to the call for social justice in South Africa.​​ ​She argued that conceptualising excellent teaching in post-colonial South Africa should be linked to excellent learning and should emphasise the ideological and unequal contexts in which teaching and learning take place. Excellent teaching / learning should include a twofold collaboration between 1) academics and students to advance the relationship between teaching, learning and society, and 2) university management, academics and society regarding the social responsibility to deliver graduates who can function effectively in a democratic society.

​Dr Cattell-Holden commenced her talk by unpacking the discourse of 'excellence', where after she shared her construction of the notion of 'teaching excellence'. She then delved into the idea of higher education in service of humanity, arguing, like Eshleman (2018)[1], that “We serve humanity first and foremost". Next, she moved on to teaching excellence as a form of value for the public good. She proceeded to the theme of teaching excellence awards, arguing that the conceptualisation, recognition and awarding of 'excellent teaching' should include a focus on 'excellent learning', with both discourses emphasising the ideological and unequal contexts in which students and teachers function. This was followed by tracing the discourse of 'excellence' at SU through several institutional documents. Against this thorough background she spoke about the SU Teaching Excellence Awards, and how it could be linked to the private good. She suggested that shifting the individualist focus of excellent teaching to collaboration would not only enhance the value of the teaching excellence awards but also contribute to reclaiming teaching at SU as a public good.

She concluded her talk by suggesting interesting ways for re-envisioning the SU Teaching Excellence awards for the public good. These include, amongst others, introducing the student voice, broadening the awards by introducing interdisciplinary teams and projects, and replacing the current individualist perspective by more inclusive criteria.

For more information about the topic, feel free to contact the presenter, at kcattell@sun.ac.za

[1] Eshleman, K. 2018. Emergent EDU: Complexity and Innovation in Higher Ed. EDUCAUSE Review, 7 May.​​​ ​

    12 March 20​​20​​

  • Shifting pedagogical practices and identities: Lessons learned from the virtual classroom​
  •   Jan Botha, Miné de Klerk and Nompilo Tshuma
  •   View PDF Version

Short Biographies:

Jan Botha is professor in the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) at the University of Stellenbosch. He is the course leader for the DIES/CREST Online Course for Doctoral Supervisors at African Universities.

Miné de Klerk is the advisor for online and hybrid learning at the Centre for Learning Technologies and managed the online learning design of the above-mentioned course.


    24 October 20​​19​​

  • Quality enhancement, sense-making and reflecting on programme renewal
  •   Marianne Bester, André Müller and Antoinette van der Merwe​

​Short Biographies: 

Antoinette van der Merwe is the Senior Director of the Division for Learning and Teaching Enhancement (LTE) at Stellenbosch University. She manages the reporting line of four centres, i.e. the Language Centre; the Centre for Learning Technologies; the Centre for Teaching and Learning, and the Centre for Academic Planning and Quality Assurance (APQ), to which both Marianne Bester and André Müller report. Marianne is the Advisor: Programme Review and Renewal and André is the Deputy Director: APQ.


The purpose of the draft Policy for Quality Assurance and Enhancement is to promote a culture of quality enhancement at Stellenbosch University (SU). One aspect of such a culture could be to establish an embedded system for the regular review and renewal of academic programmes. 

Currently, the Division for Learning and Teaching Enhancement (LTE) is overseeing an institutional Programme Renewal Project, funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) through its University Capacity Development Grant (UCDG). 

In this seminar, we: 

  1. Discuss the progress made thus far, reflecting on the enablers and constraints as experienced across the ten faculties of the University; 
  2. Explore the complexities of programme renewal from a theoretical perspective, reviewing the literature on formative, “sense-making” (Marshall, 2016; Weick, 1995) and practiced-based (Saunders, 2000) curriculum renewal activities; 
  3. Present a dynamic curriculum decision-making wheel (Bester, 2019) with which to reflect on and approach future programme review and renewal projects, and 
  4. Discuss the way forward, with regard to embedding flexible faculty-specific systems for the regular review and renewal of academic programmes. 


  • Bester, M. 2019. Programme review and renewal: A discussion document. (unpublished) 
  • Marshall, S. 2016. Quality as sense-making. Quality in Higher Education, 22(3):213-227. 
  • Saunders, M. 2000. Beginning and Evaluation with RUFDATA: Theorizing a Practical Approach to Evaluation Planning. Evaluation, 6(1): 7-21. 
  • Weick, K.E., 1995. Sensemaking in Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage.

  5 September 2019​​

  • Validating the highest performance standard of a test of academic literacy for students from different home language backgrounds​​
  •  Dr Kabelo Sebolai ​

​​Dr Sebolai was appointed as Deputy Director for Language and Communication Development in the Language Centre of Stellenbosch University (SU) in January 2017. Prior to this, he served as the Research Lead for academic language testing in the Centre for Educational Testing for Access and Placement at the University of Cape Town. His research interest has mainly revolved around academic literacy curriculum development and testing. He has also focused on the relationship between language ability and academic performance.

​Dr Sebolai started his presentation by providing some background. In the last two decades of the post-apartheid era, the language policies of higher education institutions in South Africa have been a contested terrain​, with many of such policies changing to a lesser or greater extent. SU is one former Afrikaans medium institution whose current language policy has shifted towards promoting multilingualism with Afrikaans, English and IsiXhosa, the three languages mostly spoken in the Western Cape, at the centre. While parallel efforts are ostensibly made to promote the other two languages at this university, English continues to be widely used as a language of teaching and learning. This is why the university uses the English version of the National Benchmark Test in Academic Literacy (NBT AL) to measure levels of academic language readiness among first time entering students.

​Dr Sebolai's presentation focussed on the degree of accuracy to which the highest performance standard set for this test can classify students from the three language (English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa) backgrounds of preference to SU's Language Policy, as those that are likely to do well in their first year of university study, as opposed to those that are unlikely to do so. Using a statistical procedure called sensitivity and specificity analysis, Dr Sebolai showed that the highest standard set for the NBT AL, namely the Proficient Band, was more efficient in classifying SU students who come from an English home language background as those who would perform well academically and those who would not than it was for those who come from IsiXhosa and Afrikaans home language backgrounds. This was, in Dr Sebolai's view, an indication that the test was not predictively fair to the latter two groups of students and alerted the audience to the need for caution on the part of SU faculties that have been using the test for taking medium to high stakes decision about students on the basis of their performance on it. This, Dr Sebolai added, is notwithstanding his recent finding of the test's better overall ability to classify SU students when compared the Grade 12 English res​ults.

For more information about the presentation, feel free to contact Dr Sebolai at ksebolai@sun.ac.za​​

  ​9 May 2019​​​

  • Autonomy pathways to compare active teaching methods in undergraduate Physiology classes​
  •   Faadiel Essop​
  •   View PDF Version

Physiology undergraduate students grapple with large amounts of content and mostly memorize facts to pass tests and exams. Students also struggle to understand how different organ systems cross-talk and/or are integrated within the whole organism. It has also been argued that science teachers should spend more time on how scientists do science, i.e. the process of science, and less on the academic content.​


Recently, four broad types of active learning interventions for Physiology undergraduate classes were suggested, i.e. a) posing questions (at start or end of lectures), b) encouraging think-pair-share activities, c) use of multiple analogies, and d) introducing problem-solving activities. However, it is difficult to compare the efficacy of such methodologies to identify those most suited to be used within the classroom. Here selected examples of in-house developed Physiology class activities at Stellenbosch University - aimed at fostering critical reasoning and problem-solving skills - will be examined using the Legitimation Code Theory’s Autonomy dimension. An assessment of such active learning techniques through the lens of Autonomy allows for the determination of the putative value and efficacy of each respective method in terms of promoting a problem-solving culture within Physiology undergraduate classrooms.

  ​13 March 2019​​​​

  • Examining e-Portfolios for post-graduate learning: A message from Medicine and Health Science​​
  •   Mariëtte Volschenk​​

​​​Literature supports the use of portfolios in higher education as tools to promote transformative learning experiences. Portfolios have the potential to increase learners’ self-awareness, foster self-directed learning, promote critical reflection and advance personal and professional development. With the many advances in digital technologies, - the use of electronic portfolios (e-Portfolios) are currently being explored extensively.​


A longitudinal e-Portfolio module, utilising the Mahara e-Portfolio platform on SUNLearn, was developed for the MPhil in Health Professions Education programme at the Centre for Health Professions Education, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. 

The aim of this session is to demonstrate how the various facets of the e-Portfolio learning process support students’ interactions with their developing teaching philosophies and contribute to their development as educational scholars and leaders in Health Professions Education. In addition, challenges, pitfalls and student experiences of the intervention will be discussed.

  ​8 November 2018​

  • Technology and Learning - standing on the shoulders of giants​​​
  •   Martin Butler (USB) ​

Technology continues to shape our learning environments and processes. In 2015 University Stellenbosch Business School (USB) introduced a blended learning Postgraduate Diploma and extended the blended mode of delivery to their flagship MBA programme in 2017. Both programmes, including the previous full time and part time delivery methods, make extensive use of technology for teaching and learning. ​

Central to the success of both programmes and in particular the new mode of delivery was the efficient use of multiple new technologies by students, support staff and faculty.​


The transition into this technological intrinsic environment required the planning and execution of multiple interventions to ensure that the focus remains on student learning and not the 'sexiness' of the technology. In addition, getting faculty with more than 20 years' classroom experience to embrace the new learning environments, and methods of interaction, proved challenging.

Theoretical models from both the information systems and innovation disciplines were crucial to these interventions and ongoing management of the programmes. Through the application of the socio-technical perspective (Bostrom & Heinen, 1977), Technology Acceptance Model (Davies, 1989), Information Systems Success (Delone & McLean, 1992) and Innovation Diffusion Theory (Rodgers, 1976) a scientific approach towards embedding the technology in the teaching and learning process was followed.

This presentation will focus on the key theoretical perspectives, the application thereof by the USB as well as valuable lessons learned during the process.


  • Bostrom, R.P. and Heinen, J.S. 1977. MIS problems and failures: a socio-technical perspective, part II: the application of socio-technical theory. MIS quarterly, pp11-28.
  • DeLone, W.H. and McLean, E.R. 1992. Information Systems Success: The Quest for the Dependent Variable. Information Systems Research, pp 60-95.
  • Davis, F.D. 1989. Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology. MIS quarterly, pp 319-340.
  • Rogers, E.M. 1976. New product adoption and diffusion. Journal of consumer Research, pp.290-301.​

  ​​6 September 2018​

  • Decolonising the Science Curriculum: can Legitimation Code Theory show a way forward?​​​​
  •   Dr Hanelie Adendorff

The conversation around the decolonization of higher education curricula hit South Africa by storm with the #RhodesMustFall and subsequent #FeesMustFall campaigns. Prior to this, decolonization conversations, if they were happening at all in higher education institutions, were limited to small pockets of interest. Whilst the presence and influence of Western ideology in the humanities and arts curricula might be fairly recognisable, the decolonization of science curricula, for the most part, is a far less obvious project. 


The study that will be reported on in this presentation used Legitimation Code Theory (LCT) to reflect on what is at stake in these conversations. It is hoped that results from this study will help to offer a framework which both staff and students could use in conversations about and attempts at the decolonisation of science curricula.

LCT provides a means of conceptualizing the principles or 'rules of the game' underlying different knowledge practices (Maton, 2012). In this project LCT was used to uncover the underlying principles related to the knowledge practices in the conversation about decolonizing science curricula. The presentation will start by focussing on the way the conversation developed in social media circles and a few scholarly domains. The findings of this part of the study indicated that some of the heated arguments in decolonisation conversations can be equated to a code clash in terms of what counts as legitimate knowledge between those arguing for decolonization and the dominant codes, or practices, in the field of science. 

The question thus becomes: can science be decolonized, and if so, how? In order to address this question, LCT was used to look at a number of decolonization examples, including the three scenarios for decolonising engineering curricula presented by Winberg & Winberg (2017). Results from this part of the study helped to explain (1) the favoured scenario in the Winberg & Winberg study as well as (2) why some attempts at decolonization may not necessarily be seen as such.


  • Maton, K. (2014) Knowledge and Knowers: towards a realist sociology of education. London, Routledge.
  • Maton, K. (2016) Bringing It All Back Home: The art of building knowledge from diverse sources. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrdCPvrcWNk&t=836s
  • Winberg, C. & Winberg, S. (2017) Using a social justice approach to decolonize an engineering curriculum, IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), 25-28 April 2017, Athens, Greece, pp 248 – 254.​​

  ​13 June 2018​

  • MobiLex, multilingualism and integration in learning and teaching ​​​​​
  •   Dr. Michele van der Merwe and Dr. Nina Müller van Velden

​Mobile technologies have become worldwide phenomena, opening up new opportunities for teaching and learning. A subject-specific electronic dictionary, called MobiLex, was compiled by academic specialists in the Faculty of Education and recently also developed as a mobile application. MobiLex is trilingual, making provision for terms in Afrikaans, English and isiXhosa and thus fits within the university's framework of multilingualism.
The aim of this seminar is to explore the integration of MobiLex in multilingual university teaching and learning environment, in line with the aims, structure, function, and target group of MobiLex. This will be done by means of particular reference to the design of a task-based activity for Social Sciences, which incorporated the dictionary functions of MobiLex.

  14 March 2018​

  • Rethinking academic leadership in a managerialist context: the importance of the collegium, the collective, and an ethic of care​​​​​​
  •   Prof Magda Fourie-Malherbe​
  •   View PDF Version

​The seminar will explore how changing international and national contexts are affecting institutional policies and practices, and argue that, as a result, academic leaders have to give more consideration to protecting the integrity of academic work, involving the collective and adopting an ethic of care. This line of thought was initially introduced at a 2016 Auxin presentation on academic leadership, and subsequently further developed through, amongst others, the deliberations of the Academic Leadership Focused Interest Group (AL FIG). Potential research projects identified by the AL FIG at the end of 2017 will be suggested for consideration and discussion by the seminar participants.​

  8 November 2017​

  • This seminar focused on the research done by three Stellenbosch University national Teaching Advancement at University (TAU) fellows.

  •   Prof Elmarie Costandius​

    Critical citizenship and social justice education: A staff-development action research project

​This research project was geared towards exploring critical citizenship and social justice teaching and learning in different faculties/departments at Stellenbosch University. The project involved lecturers from various faculties/departments with a focus on social justice theories as a lens.

The hope was that, through collaborative discussions between researchers and lecturers and continuous critical reflection by all, a space could be created for dealing with the necessary transformation process at Stellenbosch University. Ultimately, the project aimed to gain insight into how critical citizenship and social justice teaching and learning can be enhanced and improved at the various faculties/departments.​ ​An action research methodology was used in the study. A survey, a seminar and interviews were used to collect data. This project's findings were shared at conferences as well as through individual and collaborative articles. The TAU project gave rise to the project “Decolonising the curricula" and the article “#FeesMustFall and decolonising the curriculum: Stellenbosch University students' and lecturers' reactions" by Elmarie Costandius, Ian Nell, Neeske Alexander, Margaret Blackie, Evodia Setati, Rhoda Malgas and Marianne Mckay, which will be published in the South African Jour​nal of Higher Education in March 2018.​​

  •   Prof Geo Quinot​

    Collaborative learning in law

This presentation is based on a design-based research project aimed at developing teaching-learning activities (including assessment) for collaborative learning in a particular module in an LLB programme. The aims were to develop, implement and evaluate a first iteration of an approach to facilitate collaborate learning in the particular module that can subsequently serve as a framework for design of collaborative learning more broadly in LLB (and potentially other) programmes. The impetus for a collaborative learning approach is the need for a response to the highly individualistic approach to teaching and learning in legal education, which has often actively encouraged competition rather than cooperation between students.

In contrast to the traditional approach, there is an increasing need to foster a collaborative perspective which provides more authentic learning environments. This perspective is reinforced in the framework of transformative legal education and as also now required by the new CHE LLB Qualification Standard. This need goes beyond simply getting students to work together in groups. There is a need to actively develop students' competence to function collaboratively and to assess that competence. In this project, a teaching-learning design premised on the literature on team-based learning was implemented. The design was based both on insights from the literature and focus group interviews with final-year LLB students in 2015 on their experiences of collaborative learning. The central structure of the pilot was the permanent learning team (PLT): groups of five randomly assigned students that worked together throughout the semester, often in class. The presentation reports on the design of the PLT structure, students' reflections on the learning experience as well as the ongoing attempt at a developmental evaluation of the pilot.​

  •   Prof Ian Couper

    Abstract: Self-directed learning in health professions education: A scoping review

Self-directed learning (SDL) is stated to be an essential tool for developing lifelong learning and ensuring that health professionals provide high quality evidence-based healthcare.  This study aimed to explore the extent, role and impact of SDL in health professions education (HPE), using a scoping review of the literature. A search for "self-directed learning" using PubMed yielded 1134 articles, of which 154 articles were included in the review. An Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) database search identified 12 additional articles. Most articles related to undergraduate training. Summaries of these 166 articles were entered into an Excel spreadsheet.

Collated data was analysed qualitatively and themes identified. Some evidence was found linking SDL with improved graduate competence and physician performance, promotion of lifelong learning, developing critical thinking, empowerment of learners and enhancing academic performance. Changing the curriculum to enhance SDL may thus improve academic performance and also competence, as well as self-motivation and efficacy. Whether it does this more effectively than other forms of learning in HPE, and whether these link to lifelong learning, is not clear. The role of SDL in specific clinical contexts and programmes therefore deserves further exploration.

  ​​21 August 2017

  • Future focused learning, constructivism and new technologies​​​​​​
  •   Renee Nathanson
​​​ ​

Technology is here to stay. They provide students with instant access to learning from many different sources of knowledge. Thus, information, the staple diet of schooling, is now freely available at the touch of an icon. Moreover, devices that provide access to global networks of learning can be carried around in students' pockets. Therefore, it no longer makes sense for academics to be custodians and transmitters of knowledge. This had led to calls for a fundamental transformation of education and training and has increased pressure on universities to reposition themselves in this digital learning landscape. In particular, universities need to offer high quality learning experiences that are relevant to the new skills and competences required in a digitized world. The purpose of this session is to discuss how constructivist principles, project-based learning and tablet technology can be integrated to develop a future-oriented course for B Ed student teachers at Stellenbosch University.

  ​12 June 2017​

  • “The role of student feedback in mediating the professional learning of lecturers at a research-led university: The case of Stellenbosch University"​​​​​​
  •   Dr Melanie Petersen

​This seminar draws on the findings from a PhD study which investigated how university teachers at Stellenbosch University, a research-led institution, experienced the role of student feedback in their teaching. Few studies theorise the influence of student feedback on university teaching practice, especially within the context of research-led universities. In most research studies student feedback on teaching is linked to notions of effective teaching, and fewer studies investigate the practices and activities which university teachers engage in to transform student feedback information into useful professional learning opportunities.

​The study, on which this seminar draws, used Activity Theory as an analytical framework for investigating this issue​. A case-study research design was followed, with the relationship between student feedback and university teaching practice constituting the unit of analysis. Qualitative data was generated by way of semi-structured interviews with 16 purposely-selected university teachers. The findings indicate that the research-led context, as well as the practices of mid-level management in their use of student feedback for the evaluation of teaching, play a significant role in how university teachers experience and respond to student feedback.

  ​20 February 2017​

  • Teaching for change – Reflections on Stellenbosch University's first MOOC​​​​​​​
  •   Prof Yusef Waghid, Dr. Antoinette van der Merwe, Dr. JP Bosman
          & Dr. Faiq Waghid

​Stellenbosch University implemented its first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), Teaching for Change: An African Philosophical Approach on the British based MOOC platform, FutureLearn. Teaching for Change, presented by Professor Yusef Waghid (Faculty Education), was the first philosophy of education MOOC on FutureLearn and also the first African philosophy of education MOOC of its kind in the world. Teaching for Change can be considered as a decolonised curriculum development initiative aimed at situating African life experiences at the centre of teaching and learning. Click here to go to the course on FutureLearn.​

​​Stellenbosch University's first MOOC can be deemed a success. Not only was Stellenbosch University able to showcase one of its research strengths amongst other leading institutions as a full partner of FutureLearn, but it was also able to contribute to the world's knowledge economy in a distinctly African way. 

In this T&L seminar we reflected on the journey from inception through design to the offering of the MOOC. This reflection included three perspectives: that of the university (institutional), the learning design team and the lecturer's journey.​

  ​7 November 2016​​

  • “Flipping" Dermatology teaching: A need for change.​
  •   Dr Willie Visser

​The utilisation of a flipped classroom approach is becoming more popular in Higher Education teaching. Despite the advantages of traditional contact sessions, such an approach provides opportunity for alternative ways of engaging with knowledge. It provides the opportunity of enhancing student engagement and problem-based learning opportunities. The aim of this session is to demonstrate how an undergraduate dermatology module was redesigned on the principles of a flipped classroom approach whereby students were encouraged to actively engage in the learning process and not to remain passive bystanders. Challenges, pitfalls and student experiences of the intervention will be discussed.​ ​


  15 August 2016​

  • Towards responsible citizenship: The story of curriculum renewal of a Master of Divinity program in South Africa​​​​​​​
  •   Prof. Ian Nell
​​​ ​

In South Africa we have not only been grappling with the legacy of Apartheid in its many structural and institutional shapes, we have also been forced to engage with postcolonial discourses and the decolonization of the curriculum in Higher Education. The aim and one of the main challenges of theological education in an African context is to find a hermeneutic key to practice theology contextually as a response to processes of spiritual discernment which would lead to a contextualised theological curriculum and teaching (Pobee, 2013; Hendriks, 2014).

The notion of “contextual education and curricula" has been supported by the results of empirical research that was done among alumni that studied at the Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch University after some years in ministry.  The so called Western and Christendom paradigm dominated theological training for more than two centuries on the African continent causing many inequalities on different levels of society. The southern shift of the heartland of Christianity however points in new directions and calls for the restructuring of the discipline and new curricula for theological education and training. When one looks at the changing context, the influence of globalisation and the information revolution, a revisit of key theological parameters and programmes becomes urgent.

The central research question that the seminar wants to address is: In what ways can critical citizenship and the role of Graduate Attributes be integrated in what some scholars refer to as “responsible citizenship" and how can this notion help the processes of curriculum renewal of the Master of Divinity program?

The seminar endeavoured to answer the question by:

  • Telling some aspects of the developing plot of the story in concentrating on the changing scene of higher education and theological education in South Africa,
  • explaining the theoretical framework and phenomenological methodology that was used in the empirical part of the research,
  • giving account of the notion of responsible citizenship in leadership development,
  • and proposing some curriculum changes in the programme.​​

  ​15 June 2016​​

  • Digital stories in a science based plant propagation course. Is there a place for it?​
  •   Dr Micheal Schmeisser

The use of digital stories as a blended learning tool is commonly encountered in the social sciences, but the application thereof in the natural or agricultural sciences is not often seen. Digital stories effectively enhance learning as the creation of a logical, narrated movie clip that involves all levels of learning (Bloom's Taxonomy), the lowest to the highest cognitive processes said to occur during the creation stage. Therefore, the implementation of this blended learning tool into a plant propagation module was investigated. The aim of this session is to show that digital stories can be used effectively to enhance learning in an applied science based Horticulture module if re-designed to match the context. Furthermore, the challenges, pitfalls and student experiences of the project will be discussed.


  ​22 February 2016​

  • “'Survival of the fittest or continuous improvement': Reporting on preliminary faculties' feedback about the programme renewal process @ SU"
  •   Dr Antoinette van der Merwe

​The title of this seminar is taken from focus group interviews undertaken in faculties by a group of academics that enrolled in a University of British Columbia (UBC) Certificate Course on Curriculum and Pedagogy in Higher Education as part of The International Faculty SoTL Leadership Program (see http://international.educ.ubc.ca/sotl/program-of-study/).  The programme's main aim is to prepare academic leaders to develop expertise for research based approaches to the scholarship of teaching, learning and curriculum practice in contextually-bound higher education settings.

​​As part of the requirements of the certificate course the participants were required to submit a capstone project for assessment. As a group the participants decided that instead of developing new projects for the course they could rather present a reflection on the programme renewal process that is already happening at SU, imagine a possible more ideal process and identify the gaps between the current process and the projected ideal process. This aligns with one of the Vice-Rector's (Learning and Teaching) strategic initiatives, namely programme renewal.

​Dr Antoinette van der Merwe (Senior Director: Learning and Teaching Enhancement) will presented the seminar and share the results of the capstone project on behalf of the Stellenbosch cohort that completed the UBC Certificate course. The other participants were: Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel, Prof Ronel du Preez, Prof Anton Basson, Prof Ingrid Rewitzky, Prof Arend Carl, Prof Ian Nell, Dr Berna Gerber, Prof Johan Louw, Mr Gert Young and Mr André Müller.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is used as an appropriate research methodology for the project in that it strategically engages key stakeholders in a networked community of practice that is grounded in educational inquiry, and focuses on current best practice examples and contextual variables in order to enhance systematic development of the educational issue(s) under examination (Cooperrider, 1986 and Cooperrider & Whitney, 2005). Coghlan, et al, (2003) offer insights into the use of AI for changing an organisation. The use of this methodology is relevant here since programme renewal constitutes, in some respects, a change in an organisation whilst focusing on current best practice examples as well as contextual variables such as the perceptions of staff members. It also focuses on a socially constructed practice and engages with participants in an affirmative manner (by exploring their ideas of what works best affording them the opportunity to imagine a better state of affairs).

To engage with faculties, focus group interviews were conducted in faculties. The preliminary results of the focus groups were also shared at the annual Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) conference in October 2015 and further discussions were held.

At the seminar a preliminary analysis of the focus group interviews as well as the group discussions at the SoTL conference will be presented. There will be a specific focus on the external and internal barriers and enablers to programme renewal. On the internal level, a distinction will be made between institutional, faculty, departmental and individual levels. Specific attention will also be given to the possibility of more collaboration between the faculties and support services to ensure a holistic programme renewal process.

The purpose of the seminar is to obtain more feedback that can inform the scholarly discussion as well as an institutional strategy for programme renewal at SU. It is therefore of utmost importance that faculty and support service representatives attend this seminar to indicate whether the data obtained so far resonates with their experience of programme renewal and indicate what needs to be done to move towards a more integrated strategy for programme renewal.​

  26 August 2015​

  • “'Thank you for making race not feel like walking on eggs': teaching race at Stellenbosch".
  •   Prof Rob Pattman
​​​ ​

The title of this seminar is taken from a student evaluation of a second year sociology undergraduate course at Stellenbosch University in which prof Pattman tries to develop participatory pedagogic approaches (in conjunction with mass lectures) which attempt to engage with students as knowledge producers, making their lives and the ways they conceptualise these key resources within the course.

One of the ironies of this course is that it questions the very topic being taught. Rather than taking race for granted, students are encouraged to critically reflect upon this and the significance and meanings, if any, which race carries for them and for others.  Race was constructed and addressed by different students and by the lecturer in many different ways, for example as a sensitive topic which is difficult to talk about (as implied in the student quote above) and as something which produces who they are, as really unreal and as a material reality, as predictable and unpredictable (at times of cross racial mixing, for example), as absurd and as painful, as generational and as gendered. 

The different and contradictory ways in which students (and I) construct race in various course activities and discussions form the basis of my presentation. It is argued that this course may provide models of good practice (pedagogic and research) in the context of contemporary concerns about transformation, by promoting forms of critical self-reflection through mutual learning between different and diverse students and by engaging  with the multifarious and contradictory ways different and diverse students conceptualise and experience race.