- Carnegie Corporation of New York

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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
Developing and Retaining the Next Generation of African
Academics: Excellence, Retention, and Sustainability
1
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
• 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
• 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
• 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
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
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.
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