Professional Learning

Home » Faculties of Education » Departments » Educational Psychology » Research » Professional Learning

Professional learning of teachers and student teachers

Focus and scope

Key focus is on teacher professional learning at various stages of preparation of student teachers and of ongoing learning in practice environments. Focus is also on professional development of school counsellors and educational psychologists.

Specific topics include Conceptual change [how concepts are learned and developed]; Collaborative learning//study teams [processes of peer learning]; Learning in mentoring settings.


Apart from the number of Masters and Doctoral students, research is being done by staff of the Department: Prof. Gert van der Westhuizen, Dr. Martyn van der Merwe, Dr. Dinah Magano, Dr. Elzette Fritz.

International participation: Dr. Harm Tillema – Leiden University

Theoretical importance

Our research contributes to socio-cultural perspectives of learning, notably interactional learning, knowledge productive learning, and communities of practice.

Progress and publications

Tillema, H. and Van der Westhuizen, G.J. 2003. Knowledge productive Teams – Professionals Learn Collaboratively. Life Long Learning in Europe, 3/2003: 19-25.

Tillema, H. and Van der Westhuizen, G.J. 2006. Knowledge Construction in Collaborative Enquiry of Teachers, Teachers and Teaching, Theory and Practice, 12(1): 51-67.

Van der Westhuizen, G. J. 2009. Writing as an instrument for learning. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, 27(4): 471–482.

Van der Westhuizen, G. J. & Van der Merwe, M. 2010. Student-onderwysers se interpretasie en gebruik van leerteoriekonsepte. [Student teachers’ interpretation of learning theory concepts]. Journal for the Humanities, 50(1): 87-103.

Johnston, C., van der Westhuizen, G.J., & Tillema, H.H. (submitted for publication). Teacher knowledge of help-seeking in mathematics problem solving. Submitted to Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice.

Wolfensberger-Le Fevre, C., Fritz, E. & van der Westhuizen, G. (submitted for publication). The community of learning is in the baobab tree – how the branches stay together in professional learning contexts.

Msomi, W. N., Van der Westhuizen, G. J. and Steenekamp, K. (under preparation for publication). Teacher learning in contexts of policy implementation.

Van der Westhuizen, G. J. (under preparation for publication). How talk moves – conversation in a reading lesson.

Van der Westhuizen, G. J. (submitted for publication). Learning Equity in a University Classroom.

Current projects 2011-2012

Mentoring conversations in professional learning – a study in collaboration with University of Leiden and Free Sate.
This project focuses on the role of knowledge in mentoring conversations, and a pilot is planned for 2011.

Interested researchers should contact the coordinator Prof Gert van der Westhuizen

UJ Faculties

| All Faculties

College of Business and Economics (CBE)

Created from the former Faculties of Management, and Economic and Financial Sciences


Faculty of Art, Design And Architecture

Industry-relevant and competitive professional programmes


Faculty of Education

Education has the power to transform human lives


Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment

First in South Africa offering a full range of professional engineering qualifications


Faculty of Health Sciences

A preferred learner experience and innovative methods


Faculty of Humanities

To the benefit of individuals, the University and the community we serve


Faculty of Law

Traditional, specialised and short course Law programmes


Faculty of Science

Innovatively creating new knowledge and leading scientists


Johannesburg Business School

JBS. The Business of Reimagining Your Future.