By January 2016, thirty abstracts had been submitted on the theme of Tutoring and Mentoring, 10 in the area of the First Year Experience and six in the area of The Effectiveness of Writing for Publication retreats, (ie a total 46). After selection, there are 61 academics working on 34 papers; those working on the FYE, and Tutoring and Mentoring themes, are receiving ongoing support from writing coaches/mentors.

Participants and facilitators at the Mangwa TDG Writing Retreat, March 2016


The writing process was launched with a three-day writing retreat in Gauteng at Mangwa Valley Lodge, where a mix of inputs, writing, and peer and mentor feedback was delivered between 1-3 March 2016. Sixteen academics from 10 Higher Education Institutions attended including: CPUT, MUT, UFH, WSU, UWits, TUT, UJ, UP, NWU and UFS. The second writing retreat took place in the Western Cape at Mont Fleur Conference Centre between 11-13 April 2016. Fifteen academics attended from eight institutions including CPUT, UCT, RU, UJ, UFS, DUT, UWC, WSU. In addition, five academics focusing on The effectiveness of Writing for Publication Retreats, worked on papers during this workshop.

For the writing retreats, it was assumed that participants had designed a study, collected data, and had come with the aim of strengthening their writing for scholarly publication. Retreats took the form structured interactive presentations followed by application time, which focused on honing their papers, section by section, to meet the requirements of a specific journal.

From 31 July–3 August 2016, a group of 19 writers, most of them working on the theme – The Effectiveness of Writing for Publication Retreats, met at Mont Fleur to work on their papers with a view to submitting to a special edition of the South African Journal for Higher Education, Guest edited by Emeritus Prof Moragh Paxton assisted by Prof James Garraway; in addition, several new participants joined the project to start work on their papers on Tutoring and Mentoring, replacing two writing teams who had left the project; in addition, one writer who had completed her paper embarked on a second paper. Finally, from 7-10 September, 21 writers, selected because they had made substantial progress on their papers and six mentors/writing coaches met at Mont Fleur to work on the Findings and Discussion of their papers. These retreats were very productive, and so far, five papers are ready for submission to journals.

Participants and facilitators on a walk at the Mont Fleur TDG Writing Retreat, September 2016

The workshops were facilitated by Prof Moragh Paxton, Emeritus Associate Professor and Senior Scholar for the Centre for Higher Education Development, University of Cape Town; Prof James Garraway, Director of Fundani, CPUT; Dr Moyra Keane, Centre for Learning Teaching and Development, Prof Jane Castle, Faculty of Education, and Dr Femi Otulaja, Academic Staff Development Advisor, Science Teaching and Learning Centre at the University of the Witwatersrand; Dr Elda Lyster, Independent Consultant and Prof Brenda Leibowitz, Chair of Teaching and Learning, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg. Writing coaches/mentors include all of these facilitators as well as Jenny Birkett and Lucy Alexander.

Participants and facilitators writing at the Mont Fleur TDG Writing Retreat, April 2016

Participants and facilitators writing at the Mont Fleur TDG Writing Retreat, April 2016

Presenters introduced participants to the sub-genres for research articles – abstract, introduction, literature review, methods section and results or findings. Following presentations, participants had the opportunity to revise or write these sections of their papers.

Substantial writing time was allowed for individual or team work (in papers where there was more than one author). In addition, mentor, and in many cases peer support, has been offered at a distance after the workshop, until late 2016 when it is hoped that papers will be ready for submission to a journal.
Participants were urged to work towards several outputs: presenting their papers for feedback at institutional seminars or events; presenting at forthcoming conferences in 2016 and submitting papers for publication.

Special Edition of the JSAA: Tutoring and Mentoring – Key Strategies for Tertiary Educational Development in South Africa

One special opportunity for raising awareness around good practices and challenges in tutoring and mentoring in South African higher education has been afforded by the JSAA (Journal for Student Affairs in Africa) whose Editorial Committee has agreed to a Special Edition on Tutoring and Mentoring during 2017. The call for papers is open until 13 February 2017, and can be downloaded here. Publication is supported through the DHET NCTDG Project: The improvement of teaching and learning in South African universities through researching and evaluating TDG projects in the First Year Experience (FYE) initiatives, Tutorials, Mentoring and Writing Retreats.


To date, 9 papers were presented at the SANRC Conference in May 2016, and 11 papers or posters were accepted for the ICED/HELTASA Conference in November 2016; two participants have had papers accepted at international conferences, and four have presented seminars within their faculties. In total 22 papers will have been presented at conferences.

2nd Annual Conference – South African National Resource Center-First-Year Experience and Students in Transition Conference, 19-21 May 2015 Johannesburg, South Africa

South African National Resource Centre through the First-Year Experience Conference opened up channels for the discussion of trends and issues affecting institutions of higher education as well as students, and how they adapt to higher education and become more successful in their learning.

The following TDG project participants presented papers:

  • Dr Nosisana Mkonto, (CPUT): First Year Co-ordinators role in engaging academics in the transitions of first year students
  • Dr Ina Louw (UP): Tutor support to turn tutorials into learning spaces
  • Dr Su Pather (ex CPUT now UWC): First year teacher education students’ expectations of academic integration
  • Ms Siyanda Ntlabathi (UFH): Transitions in technological skills: From high school to university
  • Ms Razia Mayet (UJ): At Risk Science students’ perceptions of their poor performance. Why student engagement matters
  • Mr Edgar Samkange (MUT): Toward developing a first-year experience (FYE) for Mangosuthu University of Technology
  • Ms Cheri Hugo (CPUT): Graphic Design students uncover cultural contextual South African resources that support mentoring
  • Mr Emmanuel Esambe (CPUT): Before the gates of the university: Repositioning learning support for first year students
  • Mr Nkosinathi Sithole and Dr Mumthaz Banoobhai (TUT): The effectiveness of outside classroom orientation programs in a multi-campus university.

One of the project participants, Mr Qonda Makala (WSU), had his paper accepted for the 10th Annual Teaching & Learning in Higher Education Conference, 20-22 September 2016, Durban, South Africa but was unable to attend because his institution was unable to support his attendance.

Joint ICED/HELTASA Conference, focused on Ethics, Care and Quality in Educational Development, 22-25 November 2016, Cape Town, South Africa 

This conference is co-convened by five Western Cape based universities, HELTASA and the International Consortium on Educational Development (ICED). The following TDG participants had papers accepted:

  • Ms Anita Campbell & Ms Tandie Nkosi (UCT). What should be considered when developing peer tutoring groups for mathematics learning on WhatsApp?
  • Ms Priscalia Khosa, Ms Roshini Pillay & Mr Nkosi Dube (UWits). Inducting first year social work students: Reflections on a discipline-specific approach to academic development
  • Mr Emmanuel Esambe, Dr Nosisana Mkonto & Dr Subretha Pather (CPUT). Before the gates of the university: Repositioning learning support for first year students
  • Ms Xena Cupido & Ms Najwa Noordien-Fataar (CPUT). Teaching Assistants: A Hit or a Miss
  • Ms Evodia Motsokobi (UFS). Promoting Transition and Academic Performance of Post Foundation Students through a Hybrid SI Model at a South African University
  • Ms Danelle Hess (UWC). Tutors’/Mentors’ and Students’ Perceptions of Tutorial Programmes in the Community and Health Sciences Faculty at UWC in the Department of Physiotherapy
  • Dr Ina Louw (UP). Reclaiming Tutorials as Learning Spaces in the Sciences
  • Ms Mianda Erasmus (NWU). From Inky Pinky Ponky to understanding A, B, C: exploring the value of Supplemental Instruction in improving the assessment process in a large first year class
  • Ms Arthi Ramrung (MUT). Peer Mentorship Programme: Influence on Academic Performance through Collaboration and Teamwork
  • Dr Aditi Hunma, Dr Idriss Kallon and Ms Ashleigh Edden (UCT). Online Reading Hubs: Surfacing academic reading practices as an ethical imperative
  • Ms Cheri Hugo (CPUT): A Mentor’s Perspective on Mentoring Graphic Design ECP/ First Year Students (poster)

This conference is practitioner-orientated with a focus on the scholarship of teaching and learning, and is expected to draw ±1,000 participants (600 local and 400 international). As it occurs towards the end of the TDG cycle, the conference provides a unique opportunity for TDG grant-holders to showcase and share their studies on the selected themes, as well as to receive peer review on their work from a range of sources, including international experts.

* Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Stellenbosch University, University of Cape Town, University of South Africa, Western Cape and the University of the Western Cape

International Conferences

  • Dr Nosisana Mkonto, 9th Annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation, in Spain 14-16 November 2016
  • Dr Precious Tanyanyiwa, Botho University International Research Conference (BUIRC) in Gaborone, Botswana 15-16 of November 2016

Institutional Faculty Seminars

  • Dr Mpho Jama, Faculty of Medicine, UFS
  • Dr Ina Louw, Science Faculty, UP to HOD meeting of the Faculty which could result in invitations to other departments.
  • Ms Mianda Erasmus, SoTL Lekgotla, NWU, October 2016.
  • Ms Razia Mayet, Learning Development, UJ, At Risk Learners at the UJ Academic Development Centre Colloquium