Centre for Academic Staff Development

CASD plays an essential role in providing opportunities for staff (who are disciplinary experts) and tutors to develop their educational expertise in order to become better facilitators of learning. It does this by offering the following:

  • A formal qualification the Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education for academic staff
  • A Semester long programme for new staff
  • Workshops on various aspects of teaching and learning in higher education
  • College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) approved tutor training
  • Support on Teaching Portfolio Development for Promotion and Teaching Awards
  • Teaching Innovation Fund to support development of SoTL
  • Online Teaching and Module Evaluation
  • CASD also offers development opportunities for newly appointed Heads of Department.
  • Tutors and senior student participation and development

The aim of this project was to appoint and train a strong team of tutors as well as to implement an assistant lecturer programme to “grow UJ’s own timber”. This project targets senior tutors, tutors and staff working with tutors. All UJ students as beneficiaries of tutor services. Also, senior postgraduate students who could potentially become assistant lecturers.

Senior students are seen as key student success agents at UJ.  The substantial UJ tutor programme is a key role-player in the efforts at improving student success and minimum time completion rates at UJ.  UJ has continued to invest massively in tutor programmes and has worked diligently to ensure that tutors and the lecturers who manage them are properly trained and equipped.
In addition, the newly designed tutor training programme that was piloted in the faculty of Humanities was well received by the tutors. This programme is in line with the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) which aims to professionalise and recognise tutoring. Feedback from tutors indicates formal, international accreditation will help them in their future careers and this has resulted in CASD exploring the possibilities of the UJ tutor training system being accredited by the CRLA. 
Induction programmes for new staff at UJ continue to reveal that many of the newly appointed staff members have tutored at UJ. Tutoring can then be seen as a potential pathway for tutors who hope to join academia.

Assistant Lecturers
The aim of this is to develop a new cohort of Academics to the creation of opportunities for Assistant Lecturers to apply for permanent posts as these become available. Our budget makes provision for 75 in an academic year. Fluctuations in headcount numbers are due to a) expiry of 3-year contracts; b) resignations or c) absorption. Once a post becomes vacant, faculties request a replacement. Our target is to ensure that at any given time, there are 75 posts that are filled. Additionally, assistant lecturers attend all academic training workshops, to ensure that they are kept abreast with teaching practices and research training.

The University tracks the progress of Assistant Lecturers in terms of a) completion of qualifications b) impact on teaching and learning c) progression within the university.  The AL model seems to be a very effective way of growing our own timber, but it requires close monitoring and the proper training and development of the appointed Assistant Lecturers.


Strategic goals and key focus areas

Professionalising of teaching in higher education is globally prominent and academic development divisions play a critical role in this. In the UJ context, Professional Academic Staff Development (PASD) fulfills this role. PASD is a small division within Academic Development Centre that provides developmental opportunities for academic staff, tutors and academic Heads of departments. PASD plays a major role in enhancing teaching and learning in UJ with a minimum staff compliment of seven permanent members (6 professional support and 1 administrative). It is important to stress that the focus of PASD's work is developmental.


To provide opportunities for staff (who are disciplinary experts) and tutors to develop their educational expertise in order to become better facilitators of learning. We do this in a number of ways:

  1. Create opportunities for epistemological access to the knowledge, language and tools/techniques relating to curriculum development, teaching, learning and assessment in higher education for academic staff and tutors. The positioning of tutor development within academic staff development enhances the alignment of the roles of tutors and academic staff within a disciplinary context. This provides opportunities for facilitated engagement in smaller groups, lightening the load of academic staff, extending learning opportunities for students in a coherent way, and developing tutors as potential future academics
  2. Assist with career development and the professionalisation of teaching in higher education (through the short learning programmes, PgDIpHE and workshops).
  3. Provide development opportunities for newly appointed HODS as academic leaders.
  4. Encourage and support the development of teaching as a scholarly endeavor and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
Broad Focus Areas
  1. Provide multiple opportunities (individual and groups) to enhance academics and tutors as facilitators of learning (generic workshops as well as faculty and discipline specific development opportunities –aimed at improving practice).
  2. Provide structured and accredited professional development programmes through the PgDipHE and SLPs (target groups will include nGAP scholars, assistant lecturer and new staff, senior tutors). The academic Development Programme is being reconceptualised as an SLP which could be recognized as contributing towards the PgDipHE.
  3. Development of accredited SLP for tutors to formally recognise the role of tutors.
  4. Provide support for development for recognition and reward of excellence in facilitation of learning within the broader UJ context (promotion, VC teaching excellence award)
  5. Inform institutional processes relating to teaching and learning, for example support for academic staff through the Accelerated Academic Mentorship programme.
  6. Foster collaboration between academic staff, tutors, CAT and ADC staff
  7. Identifying areas for development in order to develop responsive and engaged practice through teaching, module and peer evaluations
  8. Encourage the development of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in collaboration with the Chair Teaching and Learning. The first SoTL in the South Conference will be held at UJ in July 2017.
  9. Support research on teaching through Teaching Innovation Fund
  10. Local, national and international engagement in teaching and learning in higher education (e.g. participation in TAU, HELTASA, ICED, SAULT, DHET, ISPL)
  11. Research and presentation in the area of teaching and learning (presentations at SoTL conference and HELTASA)

Guiding Principles



Our engagement with academic staff and tutors is informed by the following principles:


  1. Provide opportunities to develop academics and tutors as agents in teaching and learning in higher education. Key to this is enhancing their understanding of the contextual (discipline, institutional, national etc) constraints and enablements that influence their work as facilitators of learning in the discipline (raise contextual awareness, student context, develop curricula that is responsive and relevant e.g. debates on decoloniality, encourage critique, reflexivity etc). 
  2. Work within a developmental paradigm
  3. The work we do is practice based and theoretically informed.
  4. PASD staff are expected to both keep abreast of and contribute to (through research, conference attendance and publication) developments in the field of teaching and learning in higher education. 
  5. We are respectful, flexible and context (and discipline)-sensitive, participatory and collaborative
  6. Informed by development needs in faculties, as identified by them and as a result of the teaching and module evaluation data
  7. We model good practice e.g. reflexivity, willingness to engage with diversity ; openness to dialogue and promoting  discomfort as a means to improve and extend/enhance practice .
  8. We strive to provide safe spaces for academic staff and tutors to explore their emerging notions of what good practice means to them, possibilities for contestation and debate. 
  9. We encourage collaborative communities of practice to enable academics and tutors to reflect together which will help develop a more nuanced views of teaching and learning
  10. We facilitate innovative learning opportunities for development to enhance scholarship in the field of higher education.


Strategic  Initiatives
  1. Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education- 2 cohorts UJ teaching and co-ordinate on programme
  2. Semester long programme for new staff (to be developed into a SLP)
  3. Generic training for tutors and workshops with academic staff
  4. Teaching Portfolio Assessment - evaluation of teaching for promotion (workshops, individual consultations and representation on TPAC)
  5. Teaching Innovation Fund – support development of SoTL
  6. Teaching and Module Evaluation (online being developed)


An increasing number of staff attending the academic preparation programme began their careers as tutors in their disciplines which reinforces the notion of beginning the development process at tutor level.

We are exploring the possibilities of online sessions (using skype for examples for tutor and staff development, online module for lecturers pertaining to the effective implementation of tutor programmes). This could help address the constraint relating to lack of physical presence of PASD staff on some of the campuses. It will allow for greater flexibility relating to office hours.

This will contribute to the optimal use of tutors to support the facilitation of meaningful teaching and learning. ( In addition to assist in building relationships between academic staff and their tutors to form more coherent teaching and learning teams)

The requirement that every staff member submit a teaching portfolio for promotion is crucial for the recognition of teaching in higher education and UJ is one of a few universities in SA that has introduced this criteria for promotion of academic staff. This has however, increased PASD's workload considerably as demands for feedback on draft portfolios increase.


CASD staff

Back row from left: Raymond Robinson; Bongani Mashaba; Vanessa Merckel; Charlotte van der Merwe

Front row from left: Melanie Alexander; Nelia Frade; Kibbie Naidoo; Queenta Anyele Sindoh