Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL) <p>Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes scholarly articles and essays that describe, theorise and reflect on teaching and learning practice in higher (university) education continentally and globally. The editors welcome contributions that are critical and well-researched, whether they are analytical, theoretical or practice-based, as well as contributions that deal with innovative and reflective approaches to higher education teaching and learning. We are particularly interested in articles that have relevance to the South African educational context.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> The University of the Western Cape en-US Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL) 2310-7103 Editorial Kirstin Wilmot Lynn Quinn Jo-Anne Vorster Copyright (c) 2021 Lynn Quinn, Kirstin Wilmot, Jo-Anne Vorster 2021-09-30 2021-09-30 9 SI i vi 10.14426/cristal.v9iSI.478 Contextually responsive and knowledge-focused teaching: disrupting the notion of ‘best practices’ <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>The notion that universal ‘best practices’ underpin higher education teaching is problematic. Although there is general agreement in the literature that good teaching is not decontextualised but rather that it is responsive to the context in which it occurs, generic views of teaching and learning continue to inform practices at universities in South Africa. This conceptual paper considers why a decontextualised approach to higher education teaching prevails and interrogates factors influencing this view, such as: the knowledge bases informing this approach to teaching, the factors from within the higher education sector that shape this approach to teaching, as well as the practices and Discourses prevalent in the field of academic development. The paper argues that teaching needs to be both contextually responsive and knowledge- focused. Disrupting ‘best practices’ approaches require new ways of undertaking academic staff development, which are incumbent on the understandings that academic developers bring to the enterprise.</p> </div> </div> </div> Cecilia Jacobs Copyright (c) 2021 Cecilia Jacobs 2021-09-30 2021-09-30 9 SI 1 14 10.14426/cristal.v9iSI.338 The Pedagogies for critical agency: Portals to alternative futures <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>‘Pedagogies in context’ are explored through a national project working with academic staff developers and new academics' induction and transitioning into higher education. Causal-layered analysis is used to explore the interplay between academic staff, institutional development, and contextual influences in shaping professional learning processes. Data generated by the project’s steering committee (SC) reflects on pedagogical encounters with the NATHEP participants and conference delegates (HELTASA, 2019). The outcomes of each intervention were compared by reflecting on who was in the room and how epistemological and ontological depth in each engagement was achieved. The study was guided by whether pedagogies are mobile and agile, irrespective of context. The SC asserts that pedagogies in context are relative to the participants, purpose and the project embedded in a specific context to achieve the epistemological, ontological, methodological, and axiological breadth and depth required. The portability of pedagogies from one context to another depends on aspects intrinsic to knowledge generation, transformation and decolonisation, engagement, being and becoming, and socio-cultural and historical conditions. This is also incumbent on the agility and flexibility of facilitators to adapt their repertoire to draw on a suite of contextually relevant pedagogical approaches.</p> </div> </div> </div> Rieta Ganas Kasturi Behari-Leak Nalini Chitanand Siya Sabata Copyright (c) 2021 Kasturi Behari-Leak 2021-09-30 2021-09-30 9 SI 15 37 10.14426/cristal.v9iSI.336 A translanguage pedagogy to promote Biotechnology concept engagement and academic literacy in a linguistically-diverse university context <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>Following the call for transformation, higher education institutions in South Africa were required to promote and implement indigenous languages in teaching and learning. This has led to various strategies and resources being explored and implemented, multilingual glossaries among them. In science, where English remains the global means of communication, our experience has been that such interventions are often underutilized. A more inclusive, holistic pedagogy is required to adequately prepare students, especially non-English speakers, for international scientific engagement. One such pedagogy is presently proposed and tested. Its purpose is to harness the dominant language - that which is most active in the learners’ minds - to first promote epistemological access to difficult scientific concepts, and after concept acquisition, develop the required English, scientific, and academic literacy. Biotechnology undergraduate students at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) - many of whom are international - reported enhancing their learning experience and recognised the significance of their dominant language in deep learning as a result of this translanguage pedagogy. Such a pedagogy demonstrates that multilingualism, far from being viewed as an impediment to teaching and learning, should be seen as a rich resource that needs to be harnessed to facilitate epistemic access, cognitive development, transformation, social cohesion, and respect for all languages.</p> </div> </div> </div> Muhammad Nakhooda Moragh Isobel Jane Paxton Copyright (c) 2021 Muhammad Nakhooda, Moragh Isobel Jane Paxton 2021-09-30 2021-09-30 9 SI 38 55 10.14426/cristal.v9iSI.339 Students' prior knowledge and threshold concepts in a first-year biology course: The lecturer as middleman <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>Constructive alignment focuses on alignment between curriculum, learning outcomes, teaching activities, and assessment. This study argues that for lecturers to set intended learner-centred outcomes, they need insight into students’ prior knowledge of a discipline’s threshold concepts. Little is known about how a syllabus’s assumptions of prior knowledge match up to what first- year students know. Yet this insight is necessary; new knowledge is built on existing knowledge, and learning is about moving to higher cognitive levels. To gain this insight, at the start of the 2018 academic year, 292 first year biology students voluntarily answered two formative, online multiple-choice assessments on DNA and RNA synthesis. The responses showcased their knowledge gaps versus what the syllabus expected. Data analysis of their responses was used to shape teaching activities. This study extends constructive alignment by showing how quality teaching in content-dense disciplines such as biology further requires that lecturers gauge students’ prior knowledge.</p> </div> </div> </div> Shalini Dukhan Copyright (c) 2021 Shalini Dukhan 2021-09-20 2021-09-20 9 SI 56 75 10.14426/cristal.v9iSI.334 Pedagogical and decolonial affordances of group portfolio assessments for learning in South African universities <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>Our paper discusses our recent experiences with designing effective assessments for challenging local contexts by using group work portfolio projects. South African universities are experiencing ever-increasing student numbers, diverse student bodies which have different language and literacy skill levels, and limited resources. Simultaneously, the need to decolonise university curricula and teaching and learning practices is being actively investigated across South Africa. In this paper, we discuss preliminary steps we have taken towards achieving this broader transformative agenda in the context of the massification of education, namely designing effective and decolonial assessments that support epistemological access and academic success, while at the same time challenging what counts as ‘powerful knowledge’ (Young and Muller, 2013) in the classroom. We argue that effective decolonial knowledge practices and deep critical engagement can be achieved by using group work portfolio tasks that align with assessment for learning principles (Carless, 2015). Using a design- based research approach, we describe three courses across two universities which have implemented portfolio-type group assessments. The preliminary findings suggest that group projects can yield rich and productive assessment for learning outcomes in large classes. In addition, portfolio projects that purposely interrogate diverse perspectives, knowledges and experiences can harness the diversity of groups to work towards decolonising the classroom.</p> </div> </div> </div> Ilse Fouche Laura Dison Grant Andrews Maria Prozesky Copyright (c) 2021 Ilse Fouche, Laura Dison, Grant Andrews, Maria Prozesky 2021-09-30 2021-09-30 9 SI 76 98 10.14426/cristal.v9iSI.325 Being-in-context through live projects: including situated knowledge in community engagement projects <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>This paper explores the ‘live project’ as a pedagogical tool in architectural education in South Africa: one that allows educators and students, through pedagogies-in-context, to access and develop deeply situated knowledge(s) in the context of community engagement. We propose the concept of pedagogies-in-context as pedagogies in multiple overlapping contexts: the physical and social contexts of the higher-education institution, the intellectual, pedagogical, and political contexts of the curriculum, and the socio-economic contexts of educators, students, and communities. A live project allows for multiple ways of being-in-context – as students, educators, researchers, and community members. The paper employs an exploration of and critical reflection on one particular live project. Based on the critical reflection, we propose that in the South African context, live projects can be understood as enterprises to reconstitute situated knowledge(s), thereby empowering students and educators to rewrite their own experiences of learning and teaching by making meaningful connections with communities.</p> </div> </div> </div> Clint Abrahams Hermie Delport Rudolf Perold James Brown Anna Weber Copyright (c) 2021 Hermie Delport 2021-09-30 2021-09-30 9 SI 99 125 10.14426/cristal.v9iSI.337 Unveiling the professional attributes of university teachers <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="section"> <div class="section"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>This article derives from a collaborative higher education project, conceptualised, and implemented by academics from seven South African universities. These academics are members of the South African Teaching Advancement at University (TAU) Fellowship. The project has its roots in the Department of Higher Education’s National Framework for Enhancing Academics as University Teachers, which identifies six leverage points or ‘imperatives for action’, one of which is the imperative to develop expectations (attributes) of academics in their role as university teachers. TAU Fellows engaged in the collaborative enquiry over a period of three years, appropriating a conceptual framework posited by Henry Giroux, of teachers as transformative intellectuals. In this article, each author reflects on his/her own scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) endeavours, which provided the conceptual tools to illuminate what for them and the group, are valuable professional attributes. The metaphor of the Baobab tree is appropriated to signify ‘rhizomatic thinking’, which portrays teaching as subconscious, subversive, non-linear, multi-directional, serendipitous, esoteric, dynamic, unbounded, unpredictable, adaptive, and non-hierarchical. This SoTL enquiry enabled the TAU group to unveil and declare their professional attributes as they made public their praxis. The attributes include academics as imbued with the capacity for critical thinking and actively promoting critical thinking amongst their students; as active learning mediators; as responsive, innovative, and relevant curriculum designers; and as engaged professionals. Appreciation of the article is enhanced when the reader first views this video <a href=""></a></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> Rubby Dunpath Hesta Friedrich-Nel Lynn Biggs Hanlie Dippenaar Deidre Joubert Ian Nell Jacqueline Yeats Copyright (c) 2021 Rubby Dunpath , Hesta Friedrich-Nel, Lynn Biggs, Hanlie Dippenaar, Deidre Joubert , Ian Nell, Jacqueline Yeats 2021-09-30 2021-09-30 9 SI 126 144 10.14426/cristal.v9iSI.330 Engaging knowledge and the knower: Design considerations for emerging modes of academic staff development <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>Curriculum design is a complex undertaking that requires both epistemological and ontological work. While there is an increased need for academics to develop and strengthen their capacity to design curricula, particularly in the context of Universities of Technology, which have gone through an intense period of identity finding and re-curriculation, there is little support for academics involved in this kind of work. This paper reflects on four iterations of an academic staff development intervention aimed at supporting academics engaged in curriculum design and renewal, with a particular focus on designing flexible curricula. Using a learning design model along with eleven design considerations developed by Gachago, et al. (2020) for online academic staff development and Maton’s Legitimation Code Theory – in particular the dimension Specialization - we show how curriculum work and learning design is iterative, contextual and messy. Most importantly, it is relational and involves collective sense-making. We recommend that each context needs to be carefully considered when designing courses, both face-to-face and online, and design considerations (such as motivation, facilitation, structuredness, level of collaboration) impact strongly on participants’ engagement and consequently experiences.</p> </div> </div> </div> Daniela Gachago Barbara Jones Emmanuel Ekale Esambe Sonwabo Jongile Eunice Ivala Copyright (c) 2021 Daniela Gachago, Barbara Jones, Emmanuel Ekale Esambe, Sonwabo Jongile, Eunice Ivala 2021-09-21 2021-09-21 9 SI 145 169 10.14426/cristal.v9iSI.476