2018 CHE-HELTASA National Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award Winners:

Associate Professor Lynn Quinn

Lynn Quinn is an associate professor in the Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning (CHERTL) at Rhodes University in South Africa. She has been involved in the field of Academic Development since 1995. In the early years she worked on student writing. Working with CHERTL colleagues, she was integral to the development of a Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education for lecturers which has been offered to Rhodes academics as well as academics from other South African higher education institutions since 2000. In 2012, she edited a book containing chapters written by CHERTL colleagues entitled, Re-imagining academic staff development: spaces for disruption. From 2011, Professors Quinn and Vorster, worked collaboratively to design and offer a Postgraduate Diploma specifically for academic developers, the first course of its kind globally. The purpose of this Diploma is to contribute to strengthening   the epistemic spine of the field of academic development as well as the practice of academic development in South Africa. Her research interests include academic staff development and academic developers, teaching and learning, curriculum, assessment and quality. She supervises higher education studies doctoral and masters’ students. She has, to date, supervised four PhD students and five masters’ students to completion.

 

Associate Professor Jo-Anne Vorster

Jo-Anne Vorster is an associate professor and current head of the Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning at Rhodes University. She has been working in the field of Academic Development since 1992. Her role initially was to contribute to student development through working with tutors and coordinating Supplemental Instruction and student mentoring programmes at Rhodes. She has been involved     in the curriculum development and teaching of a postgraduate diploma in higher education for lecturers since its inception in 2000. Since 2011 Jo-Anne and colleague, Lynn Quinn, have developed and facilitated a version of the first-ever postgraduate diploma specifically for inducting academic developers into the field. Jo-Anne is interested in examining the nexus between academics’ understanding of knowledge, disciplinary knowledge structures and academic identity, staff development and the field of academic development more broadly. She supervises postgraduate students at masters and PhD levels. Current students are exploring disciplinary knowledge structures and epistemological access; and curricula and pedagogies for professional programmes. Jo-Anne contributes to the field at a national level through her role as convener of the Professional Development Special Interest Group of HELTASA as well as through her participation in national initiatives such as the UCDP-funded New Academics Transitioning into Higher Education project.

Jo-Anne and Lynn are the recipients of a National Teaching Excellence Award for team work on designing and offering a postgraduate diploma in higher education specifically for academic developers. Historically induction into the field has more often than not been haphazard and informal. The Diploma offered by the Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning (CHERTL) at Rhodes University is the first formal qualification globally for equipping and supporting staff members for their work in teaching and learning centres.

The purpose of this practice-based Diploma is to develop the competence of academic developers to identify, plan and execute initiatives in their own contexts aimed at improving teaching and learning in a coherent manner. The Diploma provides a space for participants to interrogate relevant theories and concepts in the field of higher education studies to inform their practice. Since all participants are practising academic developers, Jo-Anne and Lynn create a community of practice in which the participants learn from one another, challenge one another and offer practical solutions to some of the most vexing problems facing contemporary higher education.

The curriculum of the course draws on the extensive knowledge and experience of staff at CHERTL of designing and offering a postgraduate diploma in higher education for lecturers. However, participants on the Diploma for academic developers need to think at a meta-level about their roles as teaching and learning specialists and about higher education more broadly. The collaborative work on the curriculum and the pedagogy of the course are integral to enabling this meta-level thinking. The bulk of the teaching takes place in week-long contact sessions supplemented by on-line tasks and support between sessions.

During the contact sessions, Jo-Anne and Lynn as a team. Participants have reported benefiting greatly from the range of knowledge, different facilitation styles and modelling of good teaching that provided though team teaching. Evidence from summative portfolios and participant feedback shows that the course makes it possible for the majority of participants to gain the knowledge necessary to take on the identities of scholarly academic developers able to undertake meaningful academic development work appropriate to their contexts.

Professor Jimmy Winfield

Jimmy has taught students of every age from 10 to  60, at middle school, high school, university, graduate school and in corporate training academies. His class sizes have ranged from just seven to 700. His subjects are accounting, management, philosophy and maths.

When accused of lacking focus, Jimmy agrees: “My love for helping people learn is too strong for me to restrict myself to just one format, one scale, or one discipline”. The first person in his family  to attend university, he earned a scholarship while pursuing a business degree at UCT which sent him to Oxford. His reciprocal sense of duty for that opportunity, and the substance of what he learned studying philosophy there, have led him to dedicate   his career thus far to public service. As an academic, his work necessarily includes publications in academic and professional journals and at conferences, but he has unashamedly made teaching his life’s work, and so it is the two textbooks he has co- authored, Understanding Financial Statements and Business Ethics & Other Paradoxes, which he considers his most significant scholarly contributions. Jimmy is an associate professor in UCT’s College of Accounting, where he is known to many students as “Uncle Jimmy”.

Jimmy has had a tremendous impact on an enormous number of students. In twelve years at UCT, he has taught over 10,000 people, most of whom he has given more than 50 lectures. Utterly dedicated to his students, he explicitly aims to make a real difference to each of their lives. To  do so, he firstly makes sure he is excellent at the basics: he prepares meticulously, communicates clearly, listens empathetically, experiments creatively, collaborates thoughtfully, and reflects constantly. Yet he goes much further than this. He has implemented unprecedented, comprehensive interventions to support his most vulnerable students, and developed novel, technology-enabled systems to give students feedback about their strengths and weaknesses, and to nurture their ability to determine for themselves how to improve. These innovations have variously attracted funding and research, and have inspired local and national peers to implement similar measures. Despite his systematic approach, his teaching style is intimately personal. Jimmy’s openness, enthusiasm, authenticity and humour encourage everyone in his classes to feel included in a dynamic, absorbing conversation. He is sensitive to issues of epistemological access, and keenly mindful of the challenges faced by disadvantaged students.

Jimmy has a distinctive desire to cross conventional boundaries. For example, despite being appointed to lecture Accounting, he has been central to conceiving, implementing and developing a Philosophy course called Business Ethics. In large part thanks to Jimmy’s academic leadership and guidance, 1,200 students a year now learn to think critically, question commercial norms, engage intelligently with vital issues of social and economic justice, and see how their other courses fit into one integrated whole. Despite being unapologetically pushed far out of their comfort zone, students strongly approve of the course, with one remarking “probably the most useful course in the education system.” A winner of more than ten other awards for his work in   and around the classroom, Jimmy has made remarkable contributions outside of it, too: as a key player in major capacity-building projects with two other universities; as mentor of many younger colleagues; and in myriad other roles that have advanced the professionalism and effectiveness of higher education.

Doctor Susan Harrop-Allin

Susan Harrop-Allin has been involved with music education and community arts development for twenty- five years, working for many NGOs in the sector before joining the staff of Wits University in 2004. She holds a piano Performer’s Licentiate (ABRSM) and PhD in music education and ethnomusicology at Wits University, where she is senior lecturer in the Schools of Arts and Education. Susan is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Community Music, and a director Tshulu Community Trust in haMakuya, where she manages a Community Arts Development Project. The project is integrated into a new field of research and practice – Community Music – which represents her main contribution to teaching and research at Wits. She also teaches the Post Graduate Certificate in Education, Critical Music Studies and Music Research, and supervises higher degrees. Her research examines children’s musical play and their implications for pedagogy. Her publications comprise book chapters in several international books and articles in South African and international journals. Recent research focuses on higher education community engagement and student service learning through the arts. Susan has received university and national awards and research fellowships. She is also an active professional musician, singing in the acclaimed chamber choir – The Chanticleer Singers – and as a pianist with Il Trio Rosso.

Susan believes that excellent teaching in higher education is firstly, teaching that is research led and theoretically-grounded. It is teaching that is informed by reflective practice and investigating the nature of student learning and domain-specific knowledge. Primarily, excellent teaching is student-focused; it creates and enables optimal learning environments for students in keeping with the epistemologies and methodologies implied in each discipline. This has been her aim as a music and education lecturer at Wits University: to design and implement innovative courses focusing on transforming student learning, and further to facilitate students’ transformation through deep engagement in Community Music, Music Education and Critical Music Studies. Thus, she views her contribution to higher education teaching as demonstrating leadership in creating new pedagogical approaches, through introducing new fields of practice and research in music and the arts. Susan’s teaching is recognised for the “marriage of pedagogy with community engagement”, where approaches “have created a positive space for student learning – permitting experimentation and civic engagement. It has shown students that they can have a tangible impact in the communities with which they engage.”

What Susan stands for in education, and what binds her previous NGO and community work, research and teaching in Higher Education, is South Africa’s critical education transformation project. Her research, professional and pedagogical practice are underpinned by notions of music making and pedagogy as critical praxis. A significant contribution has been to develop Community Music as new field of practice and enquiry in South Africa; one that represents an alternative pedagogical and theoretical paradigm and which has the potential to re-orientate the music degree to articulate more closely with the higher education de-colonisation and transformation agenda. Recently, she has combined music with community engagement, introducing service learning into the BMus degree. This has produced excellent graduates who are critically engaged with social and political issues, and who are now contributing to society as community musicians.

Susan’s teaching and curriculum development across nine disciplinary areas in music and education, demonstrates a breadth of experience, flexibility and cross disciplinary expertise that is vital in the current education climate. Responsiveness to changing student demographics and educational backgrounds, as well as political transformation of universities requires considerable flexibility and willingness to transform one’s own practice as a teacher, musician and intellectual. Her teaching methods are practised according to the curricula and epistemologies of each subject, and respond to the nature of learning in each. In community music, she aims to practise ‘ethics of care’ through teaching that is intellectually challenging, demands academic rigour and encourages students to take responsibility for their own learning. This makes successful teaching – teaching that is informed by research and is focused on student learning, their intellectual and skills development.

Professor Raisuyah Bhagwan

Raisuyah Bhagwan, is a Professor in the Department   of Community Health Studies at Durban University of Technology. She completed her Doctoral study at UKZN, in 2002 and used her research to guide how spirituality and indigenous knowledge may be embedded within social work education. She has taught research methodology   and   applied   development   and   has successfully supervised 17 Masters and 3 Doctoral students to completion. She has also published 23 journal articles and 3 book chapters.

Professor Bhagwan is also on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work and Social Work Practitioner-Researcher. She is currently involved in research collaborations, with BPS Women’s University and SNDT Women’s University in India, which focuses on how community engagement can enhance an understanding of indigenous knowledges and social development. Professor Bhagwan was also the recipient of the Community Engagement Grant from the National Research Foundation in 2015, which enabled a study on how community engagement has been conceptualised, theorised and implemented at higher education institutions across South Africa. This has led to several publications which have focussed on understanding and guiding community-university partnerships.

Social work which is Raisuyah’s disciplinary home has enabled her to pursue teaching social justice change with vulnerable and marginalised children, families and communities. She has used a transformative teaching style which has enhanced this and promoted opportunities for dialogue, critical reflection and promoting respect for diversity, human rights and collective responsibility. It was Raisuyah’s Doctoral study which sought to incorporate spirituality and indigenous knowledge within social work that created awareness of the need to consider how oppressive Eurocentric knowledge and approaches were and to seek and bring teaching content and methodologies that were more locally and contextually relevant into the classroom.

Raisuyah’s teaching strengths lie in interweaving both content and method, to engage learners “self,” holistically through creative methodologies, by integrating teaching content into the stories of self and the world (community/society), through self-inquiry, reflection, dialogue and critical analysis, not recall. Blending these methodologies have been successful in enabling transformation of the individual self of learners and helping them become critical thinkers, who are concerned and engaged citizens. Storytelling forms a central thread of Raisuyah’s teaching approach and opens up new spaces    for knowledge, as it capacitates students to use this approach in understanding the psycho-social problems faced by children and their families. Enabling students to use their whole selves, rather than relying on their intellect to conceptualise theory has also been hugely successful when teaching art, music, dance and poetry therapy.

Converting the classroom into a vibrant space for using these creative methodologies demystifies difficult theoretical concepts and has helped students to grasp how to apply these therapeutic interventions in practice. Reflections on snippets of poetry have inspired conversations about societal and personal struggles. Honouring stories of generations gone by and contemporary community unearths the wisdom of local cultures particularly the relevance of indigenous knowledges that are contextually relevant to practice. Viewing teaching, research and community engagement as inseparable has been Raisuyah’s hugest strength. Reconstructing the classroom into a porous one that leads students into communities have created opportunities for community based learning and research which has repositioned the community as an equal teaching partner and community as co-producer of knowledge.

Professor Susan van Schalkwyk

Susan van Schalkwyk, M Phil, PhD., is Professor in Health Professions Education and Director of the Centre for Health Professions Education in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Stellenbosch University where she is involved in the supervision of Master’s and PhD students, and faculty development.

Her research interests include teaching and learning in the health professions, with a specific focus on postgraduate studies and academic writing. In this context, she regularly contributes to pre-doctoral programmes, and has facilitated numerous workshops for the African Doctoral Academy’s Winter and Summer Schools, and at a number of higher education institutions in South and sub-Saharan Africa. Susan is active in health professions education, both nationally and internationally, and is currently a member of the AMEE (Association of Medical Educationalists) Research Committee, on the editorial board of MedEdPublish, and an associate editor for The Clinical Teacher. She is a founding member of the Bellagio Global Health Education Initiative, an interdisciplinary, multinational effort to advance global health education worldwide and serves on the AMEE Aspire to Excellence international board. She is a C-rated NRF researcher and has authored or co-authored more than 60 peer-reviewed articles and books chapters.

Susan has been privileged throughout her academic career to have been in a unique position where teaching and learning has been her practice, her passion, and the focus of her scholarly work. For the last seven years, the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Stellenbosch University has been her academic home – it is a complex, but generative space within which to practice one’s craft. Health professions education by definition draws together two very different worlds – education and health sciences. The latter privileges a bio-medical model situated within a positivist domain, while the former is underpinned by principles from psychology and sociology, generally within more interpretivist paradigms. This has implications for how Susan interacts with her students, as well as for how she approaches her research.

Her teaching philosophy is informed by different theoretical perspectives that have travelled with her over time. The first of these relates to the notion of ‘being and becoming’ a professional in today’s complex and unpredictable, technology-driven world, embracing the notion of authentic and situated learning opportunities. Susan is also influenced by the work of Paolo Freire who argued for a pedagogy that is emancipatory and transforming, with a concern for social justice. Her students are often are her colleagues. They are her fellow academics, typically health care professionals, who have a concern for teaching and learning and who wish to further their own professional learning and practice in this arena. They represent a wonderful diversity of disciplines, backgrounds and cultures who have chosen to embark on advanced studies in a knowledge domain that draws on philosophical principles very different  to what they already know. In this context, the ‘teaching’ space needs to be more about creating opportunities for critical conversations than anything that is specifically didactic. Susan entered academia late in life, but have been fortunate to work with others who have generously opened doors for her, invited her to join their academic conversations, enabling her to grow as a teacher. She will always be indebted to these special colleagues, and the many students with whom she has journeyed through the years.

2018-11-28T15:55:28+00:00

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