A framework for effective practice in community engagement in higher education in a postgraduate programme at North-West University

Wilson, Lizane (2013-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Bibliography

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: During the past number of years, the pressure on universities worldwide, including universities in South Africa, has increased to bridge the gap between higher education and society. This includes becoming active partners with its communities. Therefore, the importance of community engagement as one of the three pillars of higher education, alongside teaching and learning, and research, has gained considerable momentum. Higher education institutions in South Africa are also increasingly challenged to elevate the status of their teaching and to raise their levels of community engagement. This also pertains to the area of postgraduate education, which points to the need for a close relationship between teaching, learning and research. The aim of this study was to develop a contextualised and integrated curriculum framework for community-engaged teaching, learning and research in a postgraduate Play Therapy programme. This was done using a contextualised perspective on higher education with reference to current higher education legislation in South Africa as well as curriculum development in general. A literature review of community engagement provided a perspective on the current state of community engagement - nationally, as well as internationally. The study used a qualitative single case study design and an interpretive paradigm to generate empirical data. The first phase of the empirical part of the study focused on determining the current state of community engagement within the postgraduate Play Therapy programme. Data was generated using questionnaires completed by current students and lecturers. In the second phase of the empirical study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with lecturers from 13 national as well as international higher education institutions to review curriculum frameworks and content from other higher education community engagement models. The last empirical phase included two focus groups, one with current students and one with current lecturers in the postgraduate Play Therapy programme under investigation. From the findings of the study, a curriculum framework emerged which outlines community engagement within the postgraduate programme. The emerging framework points to the need for a stronger integration of teaching and learning with community engagement (service component) through service learning. In the South African context and within the programme that was investigated, service learning provides for engaged learning which includes experiential learning and opportunities for students to engage in interactive and experiential processes. The study has also pointed out that research within the postgraduate programme should reflect, in a much stronger way, links to community-based research. Such links may benefit a scholarship of engagement. Also, the research component of the programme needs to be linked more closely to teaching and learning in order to better inform the curriculum in terms of trends, needs and priorities. These activities need to take place within community partnerships with a reciprocal benefit to both the programme and the communities involved.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Universiteite wêreldwyd, asook in Suid-Afrika, het gedurende die afgelope paar jaar druk ervaar om die gaping tussen hoër onderwys en die gemeenskap te verminder. Dit sluit in om aktiewe vennote van gemeenskappe te word. Die belangrikheid van gemeenskapsbetrokkenheid as een van die drie pilare van hoër onderwys, saam met leer, onderrig en navorsing, het dus aansienlik toegeneem. Hoëronderwysinstansies in Suid-Afrika word ook uitgedaag om die stand van hul leer en onderrig te verhoog en die vlakke van hul gemeenskapsbetrokkenheid te versterk. Dit geld ook vir nagraadse opleiding, wat neerkom op 'n hegter verband tussen leer, onderrig en navorsing. Die doel van hierdie navorsing was om 'n gekontekstualiseerde en geïntegreerde kurrikulumraamwerk vir gemeenskapsgerigte leer, onderrig en navorsing binne 'n nagraadse program in Spelterapie te ontwikkel. Dit is gedoen deur 'n kontekstuele oorsig van hoër onderwys te gee met verwysing na die huidige hoëronderwys-wetgewing in Suid-Afrika asook 'n oorsig oor kurrikulumontwikkeling. 'n Literatuuroorsig van gemeenskapsbetrokkenheid het perspektief op die huidige stand van gemeenskapsbetrokkenheid landwyd én wêreldwyd verskaf. Hierdie studie berus op 'n kwalitatiewe enkelgevallestudie-ontwerp en benut 'n interpretatiewe paradigma om die empiriese data te genereer. Die eerste fase van die empiriese gedeelte van die studie was gerig op die bepaling van die huidige stand van gemeenskapsbetrokkenheid in die meestersprogram in Spelterapie. Data is gegenereer deur die gebruik van vraelyste wat deur huidige studente en dosente ingevul is. In die tweede fase van die empiriese studie is semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude met dosente van 13 nasionale asook internasionele hoëronderwysinstansies gevoer om die kurrikulumraamwerke en inhoud van ander hoër instansies se gemeenskaps-betrokkenheidsmodelle te verken. Die laaste empiriese fase sluit twee fokusgroepe in - een met huidige studente en een met huidige dosente in die meestersprogram in Spelterapie, wat die onderwerp van hierdie studie uitmaak. 'n Kurrikulumraamwerk het vanuit die bevindinge van die studie ontstaan wat 'n uiteensetting van gemeenskapsbetrokkenheid in die meestersprogram in Spelterapie verskaf. Die opkomende raamwerk dui op die behoefte aan sterker integrasie van leer en onderrig met gemeenskapsbetrokkenheid (dienskomponent) deur middel van diensleer. In die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks en in die program wat ondersoek is, bied diensleer die geleentheid vir betrokke leer wat die volgende insluit: ervaringsleer en geleenthede vir studente om betrokke te raak by interaktiewe ervaringsprosesse. Die studie het ook uitgewys dat navorsing in die meestersprogram op 'n baie sterker wyse die verband met gemeenskapsgerigte navorsing moet reflekteer. Hierdie konneksies kan ook die vakkundigheid van betrokkenheid versterk. Daarby moet die navorsingskomponent van die program nader aan leer en onderrig beweeg sodat die kurrikulum altyd die jongste tendense, behoeftes en prioriteite weerspieël. Hierdie aktiwiteite moet in gemeenskapsvennootskappe plaasvind om voordele vir die program sowel as die betrokke gemeenskappe te bied.

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