Perceptions of academic workload with particular reference to research : a cross sectional survey of lecturing staff at the Port Elizabeth Technikon

Ruscheniko, Iona Helen Felicity (2001-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Change characterises life in the early twenty first century and higher education is no exception. Higher education in South Africa is currently in a considerable state of flux which ultimately is actualised at institutional level. It is academic staff who encounter these changes first hand. Technikon lecturers, in particular, are faced with additional challenges not faced by their university counterparts - they have been called upon to change from a primarily vocational to an academic alignment as a result of technikons being given the right to award degrees. This study conducts a cross sectional survey of academic staff at the Port Elizabeth Technikon to identify their academic workload, with particular reference to their research function. It also seeks to establish whether lecturers consider themselves to be adequately prepared for their research function. A review of the literature reveals that lecturers in higher education are involved in a wide variety of activities, the main ones being teaching, research, service, and scholarship. The literature review also shows that in overseas institutions with missions similar to the technikons, lecturers experienced changes to their workload as a result of the restructuring of higher education. The empirical study shows that academic staff at the Port Elizabeth Technikon have much in common with their international peers in terms of the changes and pressures that have been experienced. The work reality for lecturers at the named institution includes all the traditional elements associated with being academic: teaching, research, service and scholarship. Although research is a new function, this has been positively embraced by most staff and that in most cases lecturers consider themselves to be adequately prepared for this function. The empirical study also shows that more than one third of the respondents do not support the institutional vision of becoming "the first choice technological university of South Africa". Further, the study shows that, in common with other studies, staff were of the opinion that the institution undervalues teaching and that research attracts more recognition and rewards. Finally, it shows that significant numbers of staff work in excess of 50 hours per week and carry teaching loads that are greater than the institutional guidelines. Recommendations are made on the basis of these findings and a further avenue of research is suggested.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Verandering is 'n kenmerk van die lewe in die vroee een-en-twintigste eeu en hoer onderwys is geen uitsondering nie. Hoer onderwys in Suid-Afrika ervaar tans 'n besonderse toe stand van veranderlikheid, maar dit is uiteindelik op onderwysinrigtingvlak wat did tot verwerkliking kom. Dit is akademiese personeel wat hierdie veranderings eerstehands ondervind. In die besonder word Technikonpersoneel gekonfronteer met uitdagings waaraan hulle universiteitsewekniee nie blootgestel word nie - daar word van hulle vereis om van 'n primere beroeps-orientering oor te skakel na 'n akademiese ingesteldheid as gevolg van die feit dat technikons die mandaat verkry het om grade toe te ken. Hierdie studie het 'n opname onder akademiese personeel aan die Port Elizabethse Technikon gedoen om vas te stel wat die personeel se akademiese werkslading is, met besondere verwysing na hulle navorsingsfunksie. Die ondersoek poog ook om vas te stel of lektore van mening is dat hulle genoegsaam voorberei is vir hulle navorsingsfunksie. 'n Literatuuroorsig toon dat lektore in hoer onderwys betrokke is by 'n bree verskeidenheid aktiwiteite, waarvan die belangrikste onderrig, navorsing, dienslewering en vakkundigheid (scholarship) is. Die literatuurstudie toon ook dat in ander lande aan inrigtings met soortgelyke doelstellings as die technikons, lektore veranderings in hulle werksladings ondervind het as gevolg van die herstrukturering van hoer onderwys wat teen die einde van die twintigste eeu plaasgevind het. Die empiriese studie toon dat akademiese personeel aan die Port Elizabethse Technikon met betrekking tot die veranderings en druk wat ondervind word veel in gemeen het met hulle intemasionale ewekniee, Die realiteit in die werkplek vir lektore by genoemde inrigting sluit al die tradisionele elemente in wat verband hou met die akademie: onderrig, navorsing, diens en vakkundigheid (scholarship). Alhoewel navorsing 'n nuwe funksie is, is dit deur die meerderheid personeel positief aanvaar en in die meeste gevalle is lektore van mening dat hulle vir hierdie funksie voldoende voorberei is. Die empiriese studie toon ook dat meer as een derde van die respondente nie die institusionele visie om "die eerste-keuse tegnologiese universiteit van Suid-Afrika te wees" ondersteun rue. Voorts toon die studie soos ook in ander studies, dat personeel van mening was dat die inrigting onderrig geringskat en dat meer erkenning en belonings aan navorsing gegee word. Laastens toon dit dat 'n beduidende aantal personeellede meer as 50 uur per week werk- en onderrigladings dra wat meer is as die riglyne van die inrigting. Op grond van hierdie bevindings word aanbevelings gemaak en 'n verdere navorsingsrigting voorgestel.

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