South African Research Chair in Teaching and Learning
The South African Research Chair in Teaching and Learning is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), administered by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and hosted at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). Professor Shireen Motala is the Chair holder and leads the programme. The primary focus of the research programme is Teaching &Learning in higher education, and particularly the interrelated sub-fields of academic learning ,academic teaching, and student learning together with knowledge, curricular and other enablers of access and success across undergraduate and postgraduate studies
Since 1994 South Africa has made significant progress in increasing access to higher education, and in transforming the fragmented and inefficient apartheid terrain into a landscape that is more integrated and fit for purpose. Universities have had to respond to a rapidly changing labour market, and student demands and expectations around teaching and learning (T&L).
The 1997 White Paper on Higher Education focused on the provision of high-quality skills for the labour market, the development of a critical citizenry and the production of new knowledge. This was the policy context within which the development of a new qualification framework and a system of quality assurance took place. Despite this, and the subsequent merging and rationalisation of the country’s higher education system, universities continue to be characterized by poor throughput and completion rates which focused the lens sharply on the quality of academic teaching and academic learning (Jansen and Motala 2017).
While substantial public resources have been allocated to student funding, resources for effective teaching and learning, including for more academic staff, have received less attention.
The aim of the Chair is to contribute to a robust national conversation and programme about higher education teaching and learning in a context of social transition, inequality and joblessness, while taking account of the new digital and 4IR imperatives. Current research on T&L raises many pertinent issues and provides the starting point for the research programme.
Pedagogy, and how teaching and learning take place, needs interrogation, especially the manner in which learner centred pedagogies take place, the use of written materials and even the use of electronic material and learning technologies may privilege some learners and not others (Bernstein 2000).
Teachers need to be learning continuously, in order to improve their practice and scholarship. T&L overlap and have to be considered as a continuum. The overarching approach to the work of the Research Chair is to conduct research about teaching and learning while holding macro, meso and micro issues, or systemic, institutional and individual issues, in constant interaction.
The primary focus of the research programme will therefore be T&L in higher education, and particularly the interrelated sub-fields of academic learning and academic teaching, and student learning together with knowledge, curricular and other enablers of access and success across undergraduate and postgraduate studies.