Paradigms 20 Journal for Research and Innovation in Teaching and Learning at CPUT

 
Paradigms 20 Journal for Research and Innovation in Teaching and Learning at CPUT
paradigms
AUGUST 2017 ISSUE 20

                                      20
Journal for Research and Innovation
in Teaching and Learning at CPUT

creating futures                           A
Paradigms 20 Journal for Research and Innovation in Teaching and Learning at CPUT
INNOVATION JOURNEYS
   (PARADIGMS 20)
       August 2017

         Convener
   Puleng Sefalane-Nkohla

           Editor
        Jenny Wright

    Design and Layout
       Bridgette Hunt

       Administrator
        Jean Collins

      ISSN 1025-2398
Paradigms 20 Journal for Research and Innovation in Teaching and Learning at CPUT
AUGUST 2017 ISSUE 20

Contents
Introduction                                                                                 2
An evaluation of a Teaching Assistant programme
at a University of Technology: A World Café approach                                         3
Xena Cupido (cupidox@cput.ac.za)

Service learning support for new lecturers at a university of technology                    11
Hanlie Dippenaar (dippenaarh@cput.ac.za) and Martin Braund (martin.braund@york.ac.uk)

Exploring computer-based language learning to develop
academic literacies of first-year students                                                  23
Hanlie Dippenaar (dippenaarh@cput.ac.za) and Mpho Matthews (MatthewsMp@cput.ac.za)
Puleng Sefalane-Nkohla (sefalanep@cput.ac.za) Thembinkosi Mtonjeni (mtonjenit@cput.ac.za)
and Misiwe Katiya (katiyam@cput.ac.za)

Perceptions of a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning programme                             33
Salochana Lorraine Hassan (hassanl@cput.ac.za)

Learning in sites of practice through a CHAT lens                                           40
James Garraway (garawayj@cput.ac.za) and Jolanda Morkel (MorkelJ@cput.ac.za)

Epistemological Access through Blogging – A Multimodal Approach                             48
Theodore Rodrigues (rodriguest@cput.ac.za)

Implementing a constructivist blended learning approach
in a third-year entrepreneurship education class                                            60
Zayd Waghid (waghidz@cput.ac.za)

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Paradigms 20 Journal for Research and Innovation in Teaching and Learning at CPUT
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Introduction
    The edition covers a wide range of topics relating to the various RIFTAL research
projects conducted by the writers that contributed to the current issue of Paradigms.
Dippenaar et al., Bangui et al. and Waghid report on the use of ICT in education. Dippenaar
et al. are focusing on computer assisted language learning in Chemistry and Education.
This is an important project for first year students, as they may struggle with the particular
norms of writing at university, and in particular fields of study. Bangui et al. explore the use
of instant messaging platforms in supporting tutorials in Engineering.

     Students take lessons provided in instant                   Linguistic hybridity of English Additional Language
messaging platforms enthusiastically and this has           (EAL) students studying at a South African university of
proven to have great potential to enhance teaching          technology has been a concern of Rodriguez’s. He tracks
and learning. The article by Waghid breaks new              efforts to improve EAL students’ epistemological access
ground in proposing the use of computer-assisted            and ultimately, their academic success by employing a
collaborative learning platforms in the field of social     language ecology perspective within a cognitive semiotic
entrepreneurship.                                           framework.

     Supporting staff through the teaching assistant
programme is a new initiative funded by the Teaching
Development Grant (TDG). It has proved to be effective
in providing more face to face contact with students
as well as helping staff to prepare lectures. Cupido
reports on the impact of Teaching Assistant Programme
in promoting dialogue and reflection between lecturers
and teaching assistants. She further recommends the
expansion of this programme in coming years.

    Enhancing the scholarship of teaching is a recent
course offered by Fundani. As Hassan reports, the
course has been enthusiastically taken up by CPUT staff
as both a means to publish in Higher Education (HE) but
also to advance their careers as lecturers.

    Garraway’s article also breaks new ground in
analyzing the nature of ‘participation’ in the foundation
classroom through the lens of social justice theory. He
proposes that creating just teaching environments is not
only good in itself, but may also enhance disciplinary
knowledge acquisition.

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An evaluation of a Teaching
Assistant programme at a
University of Technology:
A World Café approach
XENA CUPIDO

    Abstract
          In the context of higher education in South Africa, student engagement and support is considered one of the
    strategic objectives to address issues related to student retention and success. In response to the diverse needs
    of the student body, academic support structures have been established to provide an enriching experience for
    students. In 2014, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) initiated an institution-wide Teaching Assistant
    (TA) programme Dialogue about the collaborative project between lecturers and TAs was needed to promote
    discussion and reflection in a manner that was meaningful and engaging, as well as to evaluate the impact of the
    programme. This paper reports on the impact evaluation of the Teaching Assistant Programme through a qualitative
    conversational process using the World Café approach. This approach enabled lecturers and TAs to engage in
    constructive dialogue around a set of critical questions. The findings suggest that the collaborative nature of the TA
    programme positively contributed to teaching and learning in departments, but highlighted the administrative and
    institutional challenges which hindered the experience. The paper concludes with the collective recommendations
    which emerged through the participatory methodology of the World Café and the value of supportive collaborative
    interactions between lecturers and TAs to enhance teaching and learning at CPUT.

A need for Teaching Assistants                                    appropriate skills, knowledge, values and attributes to
                                                                  achieve success in the world of work. They contend that
     The South African higher education landscape                 there is a strong drive to build and create knowledge
has increasingly experienced significant shifts, such             through different academic projects to provide authentic
as an increase in student numbers, a call for equitable           opportunities for students to learn both generic and
access and greater student support to enhance                     professional competencies, as well as to build networks
opportunity for student success. These shifts come                and pathways for employment after graduation (Kendall
at a time of dwindling resources. Coupled with the                and Schussler 2012).
rising demand for higher education necessitated the
development of student support services and structures                 Employing teaching assistants (TAs) to assist in
to improve student retention and reduce attrition. A              undergraduate teaching has been considered a viable
challenge encountered by many institutions is learning            solution. Meadows et al. (2015) point out that teaching
how to maintain the quality of teaching and learning              assistants have made an important contribution to
in the current educational climate (Muzaka 2009). In              undergraduate teaching in higher education through
addition, Hénard and Roseveare (2012) argues that,                their work as assessors, tutorial leaders, and laboratory
within the current educational climate, universities have         demonstrators, among other responsibilities. They
the responsibility to prepare graduates who have the              suggest that TAs may be considered academics of the

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future, as they are inducted into the academy through         and administrative support. The role of the TA was to
various teaching and learning activities expected of          assist academic staff with lesson plans, implementation
them. Goodhand, Graham and Ogilvie (2015) support             of lectures, classes, tutorials, practicals, development
this idea by stating that students who explore their          and implementation of educational technology. In
discipline in postgraduate studies often begin to perceive    addition, they provided individual support to peer-
the opportunity of a career in higher education, having       tutors through the provision of tutor material, as well
acquired specialist knowledge and been employed as            as to support the tutorial programme within a specific
a TA. This reasoning was strongly considered in the           discipline or subject.
development of the TA programme at CPUT.
                                                                   As the TA programme is fairly new at CPUT,
     At CPUT, a TA was defined as a registered senior         mostly anecdotal evidence was available concerning
undergraduate student (BTech) or any postgraduate             the programme’s success. Examples of the anecdotal
student who teaches (usually undergraduate students)          evidence submitted by departments as part of the 2015
part-time, on a paid basis, for a department, whilst          Teaching Development Grant Report suggests that
also engaged in other academic activities such as             pass rates seemed to have improved where TAs were
research and administration. Similarly, Dotger (2011,         appointed. While no empirical evidence was available
158) describes TAs as being required to “navigate a           to support this claim, possible reasons given for the
complex environment while learning to teach, balancing        increase in the pass rate have included the improved
teaching with their research responsibilities as they         quality of teaching, as lecturers were able to spend more
study their discipline”. The role requires them to act as     time with students studying at-risk subjects. Lecturers
a link between lecturers and students, while orientating      reported that, where TAs assisted with administrative
themselves to the implicit rules and expectations             tasks, lecturers could provide one-on-one assistance
associated with their context.                                during tutorials. Submissions also indicated that the
                                                              availability of a TA during consultation times after
     Other international models have conceptualised the       class created a safe, non-threatening space for less
TA programme as a means of engaging postgraduate              confident students to ask follow-up questions. The
students through employment and, in doing so,                 support received by lecturers from the TAs included,
sustaining the postgraduate programme. Through                coordinating tutors;assistance with the management of
various funding mechanisms, the recruitment of TAs has        tutorial activities, all of which enhanced the teaching and
helped to promote an active research culture which, in        learning process.
turn, has contributed to an institution’s broader research
mission. The recruitment of TAs has also provided an               The support lecturers received from TAs was cited
opportunity to develop and mentor future academics.           as one of the reasons for apparent improvements in the
The developmental nature of this approach can be              student pass rates, although this needs to be explored
viewed as a cost-effective solution to supplement the         further. The lack of empirical evidence appears to be
regular supply of lecturers and offer a valuable internship   aligned to a global trend of gathering data related to
model for future academic staff (Park and Ramos 2002).        TA programmes mostly from self-reported surveys or
                                                              interviews administered to TAs at the conclusion of their
                                                              training (Wyse, Long and Ebert-May 2014). The purpose
The teaching assistant                                        of the current evaluation was thus largely to contribute to
programme at CPUT                                             addressing this gap in knowledge.

     Increasingly, large classrooms and the diversity
of students’ academic and social backgrounds have             Key theories in collaborative learning:
necessitated student support beyond the classroom.            A feature of the teaching assistant
Strydom, Basson and Mentz (2012), in their student            programme
engagement report, stated that improving the quality
of teaching and learning in these circumstances is a               In preparing lecturers and TAs for their role in theTA
national imperative for higher education institutions. In     programme, a collaborative approach was adopted
2014, a TA programme was established at CPUT, in part         in the training of the TA programme. The aim was to
to overcome this challenge, as well as to prepare TAs to      encourage that a similar approach be adopted in the
provide lecturers and students with needed academic           implementation of the programme at departmental level.

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      However, it was important to recognise that TAs          Mayer (2004, 14) defines this constructivist learning as
lacked the formal, substantive professional training to        an “active process in which students are active sense
prepare them as educational practitioners or facilitators.     makers who seek to build coherent and organized
While it was a prerequisite that TAs have disciplinary         knowledge”. Students co-construct their learning, with
expertise in the discipline they teach, evidence shows         the lecturer serving as a guide or facilitator. Neo and Neo
that effective teaching requires much more than subject        (2009) found that constructivism helps students develop
knowledge (Ball and Bass 2000; Gardner and Jones               problem-solving skills, critical thinking and creative skills,
2011). For example, pedagogical content knowledge              and apply them in meaningful ways.
(the intersection between one’s content knowledge and
the ability to think about the best ways to approach                The TA training was structured to include instances
teaching that content to students) is also essential for       of situated learning, which Dotger (2011) describes as
effective instruction. The implication was that TAs would      individuals learning within a group. This requires that
be required to attend a training programme, along with         supervising lecturers attend the training along with their
the supervising lecturer. Smith and MacGregor (1992)           TAs so that they collectively engage and intellectually
suggest that collaborative learning encompasses a              contribute various perspective and ways of thinking.
variety of educational approaches which involve the            Dotger (2011) suggests that situated learning provides
combined intellectual efforts of TAs and lecturers.            structure for explaining how newly appointed TAs enter
Framed by Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theory (SCT),        the academic community of practice with established
the collaborative nature of the TA programme was based         norms, structures, and ways of knowing.
on the premise that learning is a social process activated
through the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)                     The joint training enabled lecturers and TAs to build
(Dillenbourg 1999). Based on Vygotsky’s perspective,           a common discourse around shared norms, language,
the interaction between the TA and the lecturer                and activities (Resnick 1991), which helped to develop
constituted the learning process (Lantolf and Pavlenko         the academic identity of the TA as they became more
1995; Lantolf and Thorne 2006). Vygotsky’s (1978)              knowledgeable in their own discipline.
theory posits that working with a more capable (more
knowledgeable) person (lecturer) is pertinent to personal           The aim of this research was to conduct an impact
(TA) development. TAs, working in close proximity (social      evaluation of the TA programme of the collaborative
level) with the supervising lecturer, eventually internalise   learning approach between lecturers and TAs. As the
the academic role. Mentoring (involving guidance               programme has been implemented since 2014, it was
of, and collaboration with, the TA) occurs through             important to establish whether the programme was
this process, while the lecturer engages in academic           working and to gain feedback from participants to
activities. Collaborative learning that takes place within     improve programme delivery and implementation.
the TA programme in the Vygotskian tradition aims at
enhancing social interaction among students, or between
students and the lecturer, and essentially assists the TA      Research design: A World Café
in advancing through the Zone of Proximal Development          approach
(ZPD). Vygotsky (1978, 86) defined this as “the distance
between the actual developmental level as determined                The World Café has been described by Aldred
by independent problem solving and the level of potential      (2009; 2011) as a social constructivist approach in
development as determined through problem solving              which one moves from problem solving, to learning from
under adult guidance or in collaboration with more             what works well. The purpose of adopting the World
capable peers”.                                                Café approach was to collectively evaluate the impact
                                                               of the Teaching Assistant Programme. Lecturers and
      Johnson and Johnson (2000) emphasise                     TAs participating in the World Café gave input through ,
that student-lecturer interaction helps to develop             sharing knowledge gained, contributed to the agenda by
understanding of content and develop the necessary             highlighting the challenges experienced which stimulated
skills to negotiate meaning. This can only occur when          innovative thinking that led to participants exploring
students and lecturers are willing to talk and listen to       possible solutions f Jorgenson and Steier (2013) suggest
each other. They add that such collaboration requires          that the methodology is effective when one is wanting to
a shift from a lecturer-centred model to one which is          achieve whole-system change involving large numbers
designed by both lecturers and students. Similarly,            of participants in new forms of collective experiences.

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Kotzé et al. (2013) state that conversations, as a form       • What collaborative stories can you share about its
of engagement method, assume that people develop                roaring successes or catastrophic failures? What
critical consciousness and co-create meaning via the            conditions supported or got in the way of doing great
dynamic networks of dialogue in which they engage. By           work?
creating networks and webs of conversation, participants      • How would you describe the impact of the TAs
were able to connect ideas and people, forming a larger         initiative in the subject or department or Faculty?
framework of meaning and ideas which, in turn, will
further inform the cultural, political and social structure         The key concepts and themes were harvested
of these networks. Kotzé et al. (2013, 496) propose           after each question had been answered. By harvesting
that conversational networks have the potential of            responses to questions in this manner, participants
“enablement, co-learning, and social transformation”.         collectively assisted in a thematic analysis of the
                                                              discussions. At the end of the process, the main ideas
     An essential component of meaningful engagement          were summarised in a group plenary session and follow-
is creating an environment that is conducive for open         up possibilities were discussed to elicit the “collective
conversation. Tan and Brown (2005, 84) outline the            intelligence” from the participants (Hurley and Brown 2010).
core design principles which make the World Café a
“powerful conversational process” and
which, in doing so, promote constructive
dialogue, build personal relationships,
and encourage collaborative learning.
The design principles are premised on
the assumption that people already have
within them the wisdom and creativity
to confront even the most difficult
challenges.                                                   FIGURE 1 World Café Method

     The principles which guided the collection and                The advantage of this method is that it is grounded
analysis of data included: setting the context; creating      in the following processes (see Figure 1):
a hospitable space; exploring the questions that
matter; encouraging contributions; connecting diverse              (1) clarifying the purpose of the conversation, which
perspectives; listening together for patterns and insights;   was to establish the collaborative experiences of TAs and
and sharing collective discoveries (Tan and Brown 2005,       lecturers; (2) exploring critical issues and questions which
84).                                                          focused on the challenges and successes of TAs; (3)
                                                              engaging key stakeholders, such as academic staff and
     A café setting was arranged to encourage                 TAs, directors, and teaching and learning coordinators;
conversation and for participants to move between             (4) using a collaborative social approach, such as the
tables and share ideas related to the question under          World Café method that focuses on the physical and
discussion. A host was stationed at each table to capture     social space to encourage collaborative learning (Hurley
the thoughts and ideas of participants. In this way,          and Brown 2010); (5) guiding collective intelligence
conversations and ideas could be linked and developed         towards effective action which results in improving
as participants moved between groups. Participants            collaborative relationships between academic staff and
were requested to note their ideas on newsprint,              TAs; and (6) fostering innovation capacity development
cards and paper that were made available for sharing          that harnesses the skills, knowledge and personal
key insights as they moved between tables in several          qualities of TAs and lecturers.
evolving rounds of conversation. Brown (2002) advises
that, as the conversations link and connect, knowledge
sharing grows. Participants begin to discover patterns,       Study participants
themes, and deeper questions. The collective wisdom
of the group becomes more accessible, and innovative               All TAs and lecturers who attended the required TA
possibilities for action are revealed.                        training were invited to participate in the World Café,
                                                              this providing equal opportunity for participation. A
   Included in the impact evaluation was a set of             total of 67 participants indicated they would attend;
questions for lecturers and TAs to consider:                  however, only 38 participants arrived on the day of the

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evaluation. The response rate was therefore 57%. A            lecturer. As one lecturer reflected:
total of 20 TAs and 12 lecturers were present on the               I was able to focus on the quality of teaching
day. The ‘other’ delegates indicated in the table were a      because I had more time available.
Head of Department (1), a Teaching and Learning Co-
ordinator (1), a Student Engagement Co-ordinator (1) and           Kendall and Schussler (2012) found that the
Administrators (3).                                           contribution of TAs not only supported and improved
                                                              instruction at the tutorial and/or laboratory level, but that
TABLE 1 Faculty representation at World Café                  the engagement of TA in all aspects of a course, such
                                                              as curriculum development, teaching and assessment,
FACULTY                     NUMBER        PERCENTAGE          helped the lecturers with their own development as
                                                              instructors. Lecturers and TAs seemed to have created
Applied Science                  1             2.6%
                                                              partnerships, in which the “voice” of the TA could be
Business                         7             18%            heard. The social process of learning referred to by
                                                              Vygotsky (1978) seemed indicative in the working
Education                        1             2.6%
                                                              relationship created between the lecturer and the TA. The
Engineering                     22             58%            TA was enabled to take a more active role in the learning
                                                              process and, in doing so, the collaborative process
Health and Wellness              1             2.6%
                                                              helped to facilitate and improve teaching and learning.
Other                            6             16%
                                38              100                When asked about collaborative failures, various
                                                              tensions emerged which related mostly to non-
                                                              academic challenges, such as the appointment of TAs
Findings and discussion                                       within departments, clearer role definition and resource
                                                              allocation.
    In this section, the findings of the World Café
evaluation will be discussed according to the guiding             Included in the tensions was the perceived overlap
questions which were presented to the participants on         between the role of the TA and the tutor. As one TA
the day of the evaluation.                                    noted:

                                                                   There needs to be a clearer definition between the
Collaborative successes and failures                          TA and the tutor role, as there is some confusion in terms
                                                              of the roles and responsibilities.
     The first question asked participants to reflect
on collaborative stories of collaborative successes                The appointment of TAs led to tensions within
or catastrophic failures. There seemed to be general          departments, as the selection and appointment of TAs
consensus amongst participants that the TA “made a            within departments was not explained explicitly enough.
difference” in terms of improving teaching and learning       Even though clear criteria was made available there
practices. The view expressed was that TAs created a          appeared to be a lack of communication in this regard.
link between the lecturer and the students and created        As a lecturer suggested:
an enabling environment in which communication and                 It was not clear who gets a TA in our department.
feedback improved. As one participant suggested,                   The allocation of TAs to lecturers therefore created
      … students felt more comfortable speaking to the        a certain amount of tension among academic staff. TAs
TA and they [TAs] were considered students themselves.        reported that they often eventually worked for more than
                                                              one lecturer, which created a unique set of challenges
     In large classes, the TA was described as particularly   different to those involved if one only had one supervising
beneficial regarding feedback on formative assessments.       lecturer. Amongst the challenges was the uncertainty
Lecturers explained that the support provided by the TA       of time allocation, as TAs (who are students) are only
through assistance with marking, management of large          allowed to work 40 hours per month, and not more than
classes, assistance in practicals and the development         10 hours per week. In the case of a shared TA, time
of tutorials, enabled lecturers to provide students with      needed to be distributed among lecturing staff, which
timely feedback on assessments. Stated benefits               resulted in TAs feeling overwhelmed.
extended to the teaching and learning practices of the

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     A further challenge mentioned by TAs was the                the TAs helped improve communication, as discussions
uncertainty about reporting lines. This often resulted           could take place about “teaching and learning issues”.
in uncomfortable spaces for TA as there were no clear            The TAs’ contribution here was considered impactful,
guidelines, in some cases, of who would effectively              as a TA suggested that lecturers may have, “a blind
manage the TAs when they are shared between                      spot which TAs can mediate and help the lecturer to
lecturers. When such situations did arise, it caused             understand what students see”. In this way, the lecturer
“disharmony” and “infighting” between members of                 was able to “reflect on lecturer’s own practice”.
academic staff. The implication for collaborative work
becomes more challenging under these circumstances.                   The introduction of the TA programme was further
Following on from this complexity was insufficient               described as being capable of “building the academic
infrastructure support, such as limited office space and         pipeline.” The TA programme was able to offer TAs a
the lack of resource allocation. This created tensions for       real opportunity to experience various aspects related to
the TAs and was considered problematic when trying to            being an academic.
work collaboratively.
                                                                      Gardner and Jones (2011) refer to the developmental
     Pezzella (2014, 52) describes the role of the               process of the TA programme as crucial for the
Teaching Assistant as sometimes being quite                      strengthening of the programme in departments.
“ambiguous”, even though still considered rewarding;             More importantly, the reflections, whether through
but he suggests that there has to be a shift from the            conversations or reflective journals, were considered
perception of TAs being the ‘donkeys’ of the department          “real-time feedback” and provided a way in which both
(Park and Ramos 2002) who can be given multiple tasks            lecturers and TAs could improve and develop their
simultaneously. This seems to have been the experience           teaching skills.
for some TAs, which makes the case for the TA role to be
more carefully considered so that lecturers facilitate the            In developing the potential of future academics
necessary skills of TAs so as to develop their confidence        through exposure to academic practices, reflective
and advance their possible future careers as academics.          journaling helped in raising awareness and enhanced
                                                                 the practice of experienced teachers, as well as the
                                                                 professional development of the TAs’ academic potential.
Impact of the Teaching Assistant                                 The TA programme as recognised by Gallego (2014, 97),
programme                                                        has had a twofold effect, “it can have a positive impact in
                                                                 the professional growth of graduate students in faculty-
     Lecturers and TAs were asked to reflect on the              like positions… and contributes to enhancing the quality
impact of the programme within departments. Despite              of education received by undergraduate students.
the challenges experienced, it emerged that the TA
programme cultivated an “approachable, strong culture of              it can have a positive impact in the professional
engagement” through the sustained interaction between            growth of graduate students in faculty-like positions,
lecturers and TAs. As TAs participated more widely within        which consequently has a twofold effect. It contributes
the development of the teaching and learning process,            to enhancing the quality of education received by
research projects which resulted helped in facilitating          undergraduate students and better prepares the future
scholarship and research skills of the TA.                       professoriate.
     The partnerships that developed through the
collaboration “contributed positively to teaching and
learning practices”, and opportunities for “inter-disciplinary   Summary and conclusion
knowledge took place, e.g., Science and Engineering.”
This was considered a major contribution, as TAs was                  In summary, the evaluation of the TA was located
given the opportunity to work across various disciplines.        within a social change agenda which sought to
The inter-disciplinary exchange led to the creation of           extrapolate the aspects which strengthen the lecturer-
opportunity for faculties and departments to share               TA relationship, as well as develop innovative and
practices, which would not have occurred previously.             collaborative solutions to current educational challenges
                                                                 faced by higher education institutions (Brown and Isaacs
    Further, participants stated that the conversations          2005). The TA programme provided a unique opportunity
and reflections that emerged between the lecturers and           for lecturers and TAs across faculties and departments

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AUGUST 2017 ISSUE 20

to work collaboratively and co-create possible teaching        recommended that more attention be given to how best
and learning solutions for implementation. While the           to incorporate and utilise TAs within departments. As
TA programme is not free of flaws and challenges, this         the uptake of TAs increase within faculties and because
first step has been helpful in exploring the potential of      TAs play an increasingly important role, attention to their
TAs as future academics and in finding creative ways to        development is critical for fulfilling higher education’s role
establish spaces for open dialogue. From the evaluation,       of providing effective learning experiences for students
it can be established that the TA programme certainly          (O’Neal et al., 2007). Building on this first conversation,
contributed positively to , teaching and learning within       departments could focus on what has been reported to
faculties. As the programme develops and evolves, it is        improve and strengthen the programme.

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Service learning support
for new lecturers at a
university of technology
*HANLIE DIPPENAAR AND MARTIN BRAUND
*Corresponding authors

   Abstract

        Community engagement has become relevant in most undergraduate programmes at tertiary institutions
   as an integral part of South African Higher Education and a criterion for quality assurance. Service Learning is
   the term often used for the operationalization and associated pedagogy of Community Engagement. This article
   focuses on the extent to which new lecturers at a University of Technology perceive the institution as supportive
   in developing a scholarship of Community Engagement and are prepared to implement Service Learning.
   The question addressed is whether the institution provides the necessary support to lecturers to incorporate
   Community Engagement and Service Learning into their teaching programmes. The article describes a case
   study conducted over two years at a University of Technology, which looks at the perceptions of new lecturers
   regarding institutional and faculty level support to incorporate community engagement as SL programmes. New
   staff members attended a session on Community Engagement in Higher Education Institutions as part of their
   induction programme. Data on their perceptions were gathered through surveys, and an analysis was done of
   their reflections in an assignment after completion of the induction programme. It was found that new lecturers do
   not feel motivated to take on Community Engagement and Service Learning as part of their career trajectories.
   Recommendations on how to support new lecturers are made, based on the findings and conclusions.

   Keywords: Community engagement, service learning, Higher Education, induction
   programmes, professional development.

Background                                                      partnerships, where both the university and the
                                                                community benefit from the involvement. Service learning
     Community Engagement (CE) is an important part             is further defined by the Council for Higher Education in
of lecturers and students’ holistic experience of Higher        South Africa (CHE), as an operational component of CE:
Education and has become an integral part of South
African Higher Education (Hall 2010, 1). For the purpose            A structured learning experience that combines
of this article, we define community engagement as any          community service with preparation and reflection.
involvement by students or lecturers in communities,            Students engaged in service learning provide community
usually in the form of reciprocal, collaborative                service in response to community-identified concerns

                                                                                                                    11
paradigms

and learn about the context in which service is provided,     points out that new lecturers have, “subsystems which
the connection between their service and their academic       lead to preconceived notions of teaching, research and
coursework, and their roles as citizens (CHE 2011, 76).       professional development” (Nicholls 2005, 618) and will
                                                              focus more on that which is most rewarded extrinsically.
     Although the discussion on CE is relevant,               He points out that the context and the environment in
this paper deals with service learning (SL) as an             which new lecturers find themselves are very important
operational application of CE and therefore the term          and influence decisions regarding teaching and learning,
SL (service learning) is used henceforth, except where        as well as perceptions of academic scholarship and
discussion warrants consideration of SL within a wider        identity.
conceptualisation of community engagement. Service
learning projects are usually focused on addressing                New lecturers are often young, with limited
societal problems, enhancing professional development         experience of HEIs, and in need of mentorship to guide
of students and collaborating with communities (Human-        them in the tertiary environment (Underhill, Clarence-
Vogel and Dippenaar 2013).                                    Fincham and Petersen 2014, 359). A study done by
                                                              Iglesias-Martínez, Lozano-Cabezas, and Martinez-Ruiz
     As pointed out by Butin (2006), HEIs are increasingly    (2014) on the challenges experienced by new lecturers,
encouraging a scholarship of engagement where                 does not even address community engagement at all,
theory and practice are linked. Butin describes this as       but limit their study scope to a lack of proper preparation,
a paradigm of teaching and learning which, “breaches          command of subject content and the transmission
the bifurcation of lofty academics with the lived reality     of knowledge and learning as the most important
of everyday life to promote critical inquiry and reflective   challenges experienced.
practice across complex and contested local, national,
and international issues” (Butin 2006, 473). Butin’s               Novice lecturers find it hard to make the transition
earlier research (Butin 2003) shows that SL enhances          from student to academic and to establish a publication
cognitive, affective and ethical outcomes, fostering a        record. They often experience pressure to ‘publish or
more active citizenry and promoting a scholarship of          perish’; a well-known slogan since the early 1930’s
engagement among teachers and institutions. CE should         (Rawat and Meena 2014), but lack guidance on how to
not be seen as an ‘add-on’ to ‘normal’ academic work,         get into publishing (Geber 2009). Many new lecturers
but integrated into teaching, learning and research (Kruss    also experience heavy teaching loads and large classes
2012). SL projects are usually focused on addressing          (Feigenbaum and Iqan 2015) but their focus is often on
societal problems and collaborating with communities          establishing a research record, rather than teaching and
(Human-Vogel and Dippenaar 2013).                             learning or community engagement.

     Goorlay (2011, 593) points out that many new                  Winberg (2017) points out that lecturers currently
lecturers “enter academia from established careers in         face many challenges such as pressures of mass
professional, clinical or creative practice on the basis of   higher education, fiscal constraints, rating systems,
their work experience”. He further identifies three factors   new technologies and changing attitudes towards
that contribute to the challenges experienced by new          accountability. She points out that higher education is
lecturers, particularly those joining in mid-career and       going through change amidst calls for decolonisation
describes these as “the potential loss of perceived status    of the curriculum, with lecturers taking up to 10 years
and confidence; the encounter with a radically different,     to feel they ‘belong’ to an institution (Winberg 2017,
‘ mismatching’ ethos and required subjectivities; and         1440). In addition, expansion of student numbers and
the sense of invisibility within an unfamiliar and possibly   expectations of society, add more stress to lecturers.
isolating set of practices and emotional landscape”.
                                                                   Leibowitz (2017, 4595) points out that learning to
      This article looks at the lecturer who is new to        teach is not a skill that is acquired once off, but is an on
service learning, and their perceptions regarding             going process which requires an enabling environment,
institutional and faculty level support to incorporate        rather than new policies and incentives. New lecturers
CE as SL programmes in their new context. The                 are often guided through induction programmes (as was
new lecturer operates within her/his own contextual           the case here) to initiate a process of change, internally
microsystem, as well as in the mesosystem of the              as well as externally. Internal influences would potentially
institution (Bronfenbrenner 1994, 1648) and is influenced     affect new lecturers’ beliefs and conceptions of teaching,
by experiences within these systems. Nicholls (2005)          while external influences would focus on coping in the

  12
AUGUST 2017 ISSUE 20

workplace itself (Pickering 2006). Lambright and Alden        Daniels 2009). Hanson (2003, 139) states that, even if
(2012) found that many new lecturing staff members            appropriate staff development programmes are offered to
were still working towards achieving their own academic       new lecturers, they need to see that their efforts to apply
qualifications, which added to stress levels and time         these ideas are valued and rewarded. A new lecturer
constraints.                                                  who does not have faculty and institutional support will
                                                              be embarking on a very lonely journey, experiencing “a
     Teferra (2016, 1874) points out that novice              sense of isolation, uncertainty, conflict between multiple
academics depend on the guidance of experienced               roles, dependency on management, having to deal with
lecturers to assist them with curriculum development,         expanding administrative loads and juggle work and
exam/lecture preparation, and assessment as they often        home responsibilities” (Pickering 2006, 9).
start their teaching careers without having any meaningful
training in teaching. New lecturers are not adequately             It is often hypothesised that it is lecturers in the
prepared during their postgraduate studies to enter into      ‘soft’ sciences (education, psychology, human or social
their new career. They might be able to conduct research      sciences) rather than in the ‘hard’ sciences (mathematics,
but are not prepared for simultaneously participating in      physics, chemistry, biosciences or engineering) who
research, teaching, and service (Dominguez-Whitehead          are more often involved in CE initiatives. Butin (2006)
and Moosa 2014, 263). This poses the question of              found that, in the hard sciences, where lecturing often
whether new lecturers can be expected to be involved in       predominates as the teaching style, lecturers may
SL or whether they should not rather, as Erasmus (2007)       display antipathy to SL. He further points out that SL is
suggests, partner with more experienced lecturers,            overwhelmingly implemented by the “least powerful and
whom she refers to as “champions of service learning”         most marginalised staff (for example, people of colour,
(Erasmus 2007, 113). These are the lecturers who could        women, and the untenured)”, by the “softest” and most
take the lead in introducing new lecturers to service         “vocational” disciplines and fields (education, social work),
learning.                                                     and with “minimal exchange value (tenure and promotion
                                                              prioritisation)” (Butin 2006, 475).
     The new lecturer who sees value in incorporating
SL is often motivated by a sense of civic responsibility          Jordaan (2014), a practising SL lecturer at
(Westheimer and Kahne 2004). Enablers or constraints          the University of Pretoria who sends around 1,600
to novice lecturers’ uptake of CE and SL is an important      Engineering Built Environment and Information
and current debate in higher education (HE), especially       Technology (EBIT) students to work on SL projects on
at a time when HE in South Africa is at cross roads trying    an annual basis, describes the implementation of SL
to balance issues of workplace (market) demands versus        as extremely challenging because of large numbers of
knowledge autonomy within a context of inequality.            diverse students, various campus-community partners
However, despite being motivated or seeing the need for       with different needs and few available resources. She
SL in teaching and research, new lecturers need to be         points out that the successful facilitation of modules
empowered and supported by the institution to embark          adopting and incorporating SL depends significantly on
on this, often unfamiliar, road. Liebermann explains:         successful partnerships between students, lecturers and
                                                              community actors.
     It is essential to empower faculty (staff), students,
and other administrators, to develop authentic,                    In a country-wide study by Kruss et al. (2012), it was
reciprocal, and mutually beneficial partnerships with         found that lecturers from UoTs are less involved in CE/SL
community and civic leaders. It is they, after all, who       than their counterparts from traditional older, established,
will be creating and sustaining the community-engaged         research-based institutions. They found that academics
partnerships from conception to implementation                at UoTs might be hesitant to engage in CE/SL because
(Liebermann 2014, 14).                                        of a lack of institutional support, whether in the form
                                                              of “clear structures, policy, recognition as scholarship,
     As pointed out by Dallimore et al. (2010, 19), the SL    administration systems, different priorities of universities
process begins with the recruiting of enthusiastic faculty    and partners, financial resources or conceptual clarity”
members. However, although the wider concept of CE            (Kruss et al 2012, 41). Another significant trend evident
provides opportunities for academics to live out their        from their survey is that lecturers who do not participate
moral citizenship and responsibility, SL (in the context of   in CE/SL often experience a lack of fit between SL and
this study) is often perceived as a burden on especially      their academic identity, and they receive little recognition
new lecturers who are already overloaded (Albertyn and        for CE/SL activities (Kruss et al. 2012, 97).

                                                                                                                     13
paradigms

Context of the study                                          Theoretical framework for study
      New lecturers who participated in this study all took        The study is informed by Lazarus’s (2009) report
part in a compulsory one-year teacher development             explaining the Community Higher Education Service
induction programme (TDP) required of all new staff.          Partnerships (CHESP) initiative, which originated in 1998
One of the modules of this programme deals with               to support CE in higher education. Through CHESP,
‘Community Engagement in the curriculum’. This                mechanisms to facilitate CE and SL programmes in
is an introduction to CE and is meant to guide staff          higher education were developed. These included the
involvement with, and implementation of, SL. The              following: the appointment of an executive person for
TDP programme runs over one year, but only one                CE; establishing a CE Unit at institutions; appointing
formal afternoon session is allocated to CE. Thereafter,      senior academic and support staff responsible for
participants work on assignments and send drafts of           operationalising CE and SL; establishing institution-wide
their assignments to the TDP lecturer for comments.           and faculty-based committees responsible for CE and
The assignment requires of lecturers to plan an SL            SL; and including CE and SL in staff promotion and
initiative relevant to their discipline and to comment        reward systems (Lazarus 2009, 106). Lazarus’s report
on practical implementation of the project. Lecturers         concluded that it is critical to build capacity in HEIs and
were not required to start a SL initiative per se,            among academics to institutionalise CE and SL (Lazarus
but were encouraged to explore the possibilities of           2009, 107; Furco 2001, 70).
implementation and reflect on their own contexts and
opportunities for introducing a SL project as part of               This call for capacity building is further informed by
wider community engagement. By the end of the year,           Furco’s (2002) categorisation of the important elements
these novice lecturers were required to submit a final        of service learning and his self-assessment rubric for the
CE assignment as part of their TDP portfolios.                institutionalisation of service learning in higher education.
                                                              These were designed to assist the higher education
     In the light of demands on HEIs to support lecturers     community in evaluating the development of service
and students, it is relevant to determine the perceptions     learning at an institution. Furco’s work forms the main
of new lecturers on the support they receive from             theoretical framework guiding this study, so it is relevant
their institution and faculties when incorporating CE in      to explain what he sees as the most important elements
teaching, learning and research. The following research       to consider. Furco’s (2002, 3) five categories used to
questions were chosen to guide the study to explore           describe SL concern these:
perceptions of new lecturers.
                                                              • Philosophy and mission of service learning, which
                                                                defines service learning and describes the strategic
  RQ1: How many new lecturers who have completed                planning, alignment with institutional mission and
       the SL training have implemented CE/SL in their          educational reform efforts.
       curricula?                                             • Faculty support for and involvement in service
  RQ2: Do new lecturers feel supported to implement a           learning that includes awareness, involvement and
       SL project?                                              support, leadership, incentives and rewards for faculty
  RQ3: What are the challenges towards implementation           members (lecturers).
       of SL and what enablers are necessary towards          • Student support for and involvement in service
       developing a scholarship of CE?                          learning that includes awareness, opportunities,
                                                                leadership, incentives and rewards.
                                                              • Community participation and partnerships that
     In an attempt to answer these questions, this              includes community partner awareness, mutual
article describes the perceptions of new lecturers on           understanding, voice and leadership.
developing a scholarship of CE and implementing SL            • Institutional support for service learning that
into teaching programmes. This study was done after a           includes a coordinating entity, policy-making, staffing,
once off workshop on CE, which formed part of a longer          funding, administrative support, evaluation and
programme of professional development. Although the             assessment.
study is limited to one institution, and the findings have
particular relevance for that institution, the theoretical         For the purposes of this study, we focus primarily
framework used for reflection and the general issues          on two of Furco’s categories, as these deal with support
have wider relevance and applicability for the community      given to new lecturing staff, namely at Faculty and at
of higher education in South Africa.                          Institutional levels.

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AUGUST 2017 ISSUE 20

  Faculty support for service learning implies a high             leadership and emphasised in faculty incentives and
  level of staff awareness, involvement, and individual           rewards. Staff who are involved in service learning
  personal support to staff. Furco (2002, 7) describes            receive recognition for it during the campus review,
  faculty support as follows:                                     tenure, and promotion process. Faculty staff are
                                                                  encouraged and are provided with various incentives
  Faculty knowledge and awareness, present when                   such as mini-grants, sabbaticals and funds for service
  a substantial number of faculty members know                    learning conferences so as to pursue service learning
  what SL is and can articulate how it is different from          activities.
  community service, internships, or other experiential
  learning activities.                                            The importance of this support at faculty level is
                                                                  echoed by Slamat (2010) who suggests that HEIs
  Faculty involvement and support, implying that                  put in place a clear system of support, rewards and
  a substantial number of influential faculty members             incentives for service learning initiatives by staff.
  participate as instructors, supporters, and advocates           Slamat adds that the system should be audited and
  of SL and support infusion of SL, both into the                 profiled to encourage staff to explore possibilities.
  institution’s overall mission and faculty members’
  individual professional work.                                   Institutional support for service learning is
                                                                  described by Furco as the existence of an effective
  Faculty leadership, which can be identified when a              coordinating entity requiring clear policies at the
  highly respected, influential group of faculty members          institution and sufficient staffing, funding and
  serves as the campus service learning leaders and/or            administrative support (Furco 2002, 9). The institution
  advocates.                                                      assists with evaluation and assessment of initiatives.
                                                                  Staffing, funding and administrative support provide
  Faculty incentives and rewards, where Faculty                   the logistical underpinning of a successful CE
  support is often initiated and driven by the faculty            initiative.

     Table 1 provides examples of how Furco envisages institutional support at each of three stages of development.
Stage One is the Critical Mass Building stage, where the institution and/or participants start to recognise service learning
and develop awareness across the institution. Stage Two is the Quality Building stage, where the focus is on the “quality”
of service learning activities rather than quantity. Stage Three is the Sustained Institutionalisation stage where a campus
has fully institutionalised service learning inherent in the context of the institution as illustrated in Table 1.

TABLE 1: Furco’s self-assessment rubric for the institutionalisation of service learning identifying staged institutional
support (Furco 2002, 42)

                                     STAGE 0NE                       STAGE TWO                      STAGE THREE
                                Critical main building              Quality building          Sustained Institutionalisation

 Coordinating entity        No campus-wide                   Coordination limited to parts    A coordinating entity
                            coordination for SL              of the campus or some            for SL devoted primarily
                                                             faculty/students                 to assisting the various
                                                                                              campus constituencies in SL
                                                                                              implementation.

 Policy making entity       The institution’s official and   The institution’s official and   The institution’s policy-
                            influential policy-making        influential policy-making        making board(s)/
                            board(s)/ committee(s)           board(s)/ committee(s)           committee(s) recognise
                            do not recognise service         recognise service learning       service learning as an
                            learning as an essential         as an essential educational      essential educational
                            educational goal for the         goal for the campus, but no      goal for the campus and
                            campus.                          formal policies have been        formal policies have been
                                                             developed.                       developed or implemented.

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