HELTASA Conference 2019  27 – 29 November – Grahamstown 

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Early bird registration closes on 16 September 

HELTASA 2019 Pre-conference Workshops 


Interrogating dominant assumptions about academic contexts through various pedagogies

Kasturi-Behari-Leak, Nalini Chitanand, Rieta Ganas, Siyabulela Sabata, Noluthando Toni and Jo-Anne Vorster

NATHEP Steering Committee

The Higher Education context in which many academics and academic developers find themselves continuously goes through various transformational moments. The changes require us to re-imagine our practices as academics, to disrupt subjectivities and our often taken for granted assumptions that we bring to academic spaces. Having a “toolbox” of pedagogies is not the ideal anymore. As facilitators we need to be able to move through a suite of appropriate pedagogies that will encourage students to construct personal and contextually relevant meaning. The purpose of the workshop is to explore pedagogies that disrupt dominant assumptions about our context.

Disrupting these practices will force us to critically reflect on our own practices, what informs them and also to be able to adapt so that we embrace diverse ways of thinking, knowing and being. Interrogating our preconceived ideas and biases about the nature of learning and teaching forms an integral part of the reflection process. The selection of contextually relevant pedagogies is inextricably linked to who we are as practitioners and more importantly how comfortable we are with our own sense of being.

Through active participation and an experiential approach, participants will be invited to consider how different pedagogies can contribute to, disrupt and challenge knowledge, being and doing in different contexts.

Drawing on participants’ lived experiences, we aim to bring to the fore dominant assumptions within our diverse context. Fostering a collaborative learning, teaching and dialogic space will enable the generation of innovative strategies that are responsive, relevant and transformative and that are aligned to the goals and imperatives of higher education. We seek to draw on pedagogies that contribute to re-imagining higher education beyond the present. 

Finally, drawing on a national staff development project, the New Academics Transitioning into Higher Education Project (NATHEP), we intend to use insights and learnings to share further possibilities. These are not exhaustive but we wish to expand the spectrum of ideas by opening them up in this workshop space. We aim to do this also by exposing participants to pedagogies of engagement, pedagogies of being, pedagogies of knowledge generation and pedagogies of transformation and decolonisation.

Duration: 3 hours

Number of participants: 30



Representing a professional teaching identity through a teaching portfolio 

Christine Winberg and Nicola Pallitt

Cape University of Technology and Rhodes University

Teaching portfolios are commonly used to demonstrate evidence of growth, competency and the attainment of excellence; they are a means of linking theory and practice in professional education. Many universities require academic staff to submit teaching portfolios when applying for tenure, promotion or teaching excellence awards. Teaching portfolios are thus important artefacts that have come to symbolise transitions in an academic career, in particular the transformation of teaching practice. Despite the common use of teaching portfolios, little attention has been paid to understanding their textual or generic features, thus portfolios can be confusing documents for both academic staff and academic developers.  Traditionally, a teaching portfolio is defined as a collection of artefacts that represent practice. The early literature on teaching portfolios recommended that portfolios should tell the practitioner’s ‘story’, while later studies focus on the assessment of portfolios, issues around credentialing and accreditation, and issues of standards of validity, reliability, fairness and the absence of bias. Not all teaching portfolios are the same; portfolios are founded on different paradigms of teaching and can be quite different. Although the rationale for teaching portfolios is to encourage university teachers to reflection on their practice, differing views on their purposes has led to their adoption for a variety of reasons. For instance, they can be used to assess readiness for tenure or promotion, to encourage reflection, growth, and learning as a teacher and to showcase the candidates’ best work and highlight competencies. The particular focus of this workshop is to demystify the process of teaching portfolio development in diverse institutional contexts and across the disciplinary map and for diverse purposes– with a particular focus on portfolio building in the STEM disciplines. The workshop is intended both for faculty-based academic staff who are developing a teaching portfolio, as well as for academic developers who would like to share their experiences of facilitating portfolio building. 

Recommended pre-reading

Seldin, P. J., Miller, E. and Seldin, C. 2010. The teaching portfolio: A practical guide to improved performance, promotion and tenure decisions. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Available at https://leseprobe.buch.de/images-adb/72/a5/72a57aa1-777b-49d7-8090-e99aa7974bd6.pdf

Duration: 1.5 hours



Using the University Capacity Development Grant to enable student success in Higher Education

Shiba Diketane

Manager: University Capacity Development Grant

Student access and success remain a challenge for higher education in South Africa. This is demonstrated by the degree of persistent failures in terms of high dropout, low throughput, and low participation rates. In the recent years, the system has made progress in terms of some key areas such as access, undergraduate and postgraduate student success, and in terms of its ability to generate research. However, success remains differentiated and unequal in terms race and social class. Although I fully acknowledge that student success is a function of a combination of various systemic factors, the purpose of this workshop is to consider the role of human resource capacity as the key towards academic and student success in higher education. The University Capacity Development Programme (UCDP) is a transformation programme of the Department of Higher Education and Training aimed at enabling an integrated approach to capacity development across the three main areas of student development, staff development and programme/curriculum development. The UCDP operates at the nexus of quality, equity and success in universities. The implementation of the programme is enabled by the University Capacity Development Grant (UCDG), as a resource. Workshop participants will explore how to manage and utilize the grant effectively and efficiently to facilitate academic development and enhance student success in higher education.

Duration: 1.5 hours



Working with lecturers on the Next Generation of Academics Programme

Amanda Hlengwa

Rhodes University

The workshop, aimed at nGAP coordinators, nGAP lecturers and heads/directors of AD Centres and senior managers, sets out to create a shared understanding of the purposes of the nGAP taking into account different institutional contexts. It also aims to collaboratively generate a set of principles and practices for working with nGAP lecturers. Participants will be asked to share the structures and practices in place in their institutions to ensure that the nGAP is meeting its intended goals. They will also be asked to critically reflect on these structures and practices to articulate 

  • the values, beliefs, theories that underpin them
  • conditions that enable or constrain the meeting of the outcomes of the nGAP 
  • the effectiveness of institutional structures and practices for enabling lecturers on the nGAP to fulfil the multiple roles of an academic. 

The outcome of this workshop is to offer conceptual tools to conceptualise, design or refine the nGAP so as to facilitate the holistic development of lecturers to fulfil their academic roles within their institutional contexts and in the broader South African higher education system. 

Duration: 1.5 hours



Becoming a scholar in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Kirstin Wilmot and Sioux McKenna

Rhodes University

There has been a rapid rise in publications in a field known as the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. This field focuses on scholarly analyses of what happens in the university classroom, including curriculum, assessment, student experiences and more. The need for carefully theorized accounts of teaching and learning have been repeatedly called for in the literature on higher education, in response to the dominance of problematic commonsense approaches and persistently poor throughput and retention rates. But alongside this rise in SoTL publications, there are concerns that much of it is atheoretical and written more in response to the ‘publish or perish’ culture of our universities than the desire to enhance our practices. This workshop provides participants with an overview of the SoTL field and its key concerns and debates. It then guides participants through a series of activities to reveal the SoTL genre and make the norms and expectations explicit. The activities include a consideration of a few highly-cited SoTL texts in order to map the field, followed by a forensic audit of these texts to demonstrate to participants a range of structures and approaches used in some of the more influential texts in the field. Participants will be introduced to different strategies used in SoTL to develop publications that can make a meaningful contribution to teaching and learning in Southern Africa.

Duration: 1.5 hours



A critical pedagogy of place for engaged learning in the disciplines

Rod Amner and Jeanne du Toit

Rhodes University

A ‘critical pedagogy of place’ is an educational practice that seeks to ground learning in the unique strengths, histories and characteristics of the local community and environment in order to connect place with self and the community. Deep, meaningful engagements with the contexts within which educational exchanges occur support critical reflection, civic engagement, democratic practices and nurture an ethic of care for others and the environment. The goal is to provide opportunities for processes of ‘re-inhabitation’; “learning to live in a place by being able to pursue the kind of social action that improves the social and ecological lives of the places people inhabit” (Gruenewald, 2003). 

This proposed workshop will draw on findings from two qualitative studies that documented the experiences of staff and students involved in two semester-long Journalism & Media Studies praxis courses at Rhodes University – one for 170 first year students, the other for 85 third years. Framed by a critical pedagogy of place, both courses required students to employ place-based methodologies like civic mapping and communicative ecology. The findings indicate that critical, place-based education can increase students’ sensitive appreciation of place, their critical awareness of the pressing needs of their societies, and, ultimately, aid their ability to contribute towards meeting those needs. 
The workshop will interactively explore how ideas drawn from the theory and practice of a critical pedagogy of place could offer ways of integrating engaged learning into concrete practices of curriculum development and pedagogy in a number of disciplines. 

Duration: 1.5 hours