Browsing by Author "Bitzer, Eli"
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- ItemAction research : a wonderfully uncomfortable mode of creating knowledge(SUN MeDIA Bloemfontein, 2007) Beylefeld, Adriana; Bitzer, Eli; Hay, HenrietteChanged views on the nature and purpose of knowledge production provide the backdrop for the authors’ demonstration of the ways in which action research on the development of general skills transformed their values into a living theory. This paper recounts how action research was used to integrate general skills into a medical curriculum. It also presents evidence of the critical scrutiny to which the first author’s educational practice was subjected. The distinctive features of action research provide an analytical framework for arguing that an action researcher can produce useful knowledge and so certainly can have a “scientific message”.
- ItemBecoming doctorate as an endpoint and a point of departure(SUN MeDIA, 2016) Bitzer, Eli; Leshem, Shosh; Trafford, VernonINTRODUCTION: There are generic features of ‘the doctorate’ that transcend disciplines, universities and doctoral procedures. Perspectives on doctoral outcomes include features of received wisdom, which scholars often refer to as the ‘gold standard’ of the doctorate (Trafford & Leshem 2008: 34–35). When standards at such a scholarly level are met, they constitute ‘doctorateness’, which is what examiners expect to be displayed in doctoral theses (Halse & Malfroy 2010; McAlpine & Ashgar 2010). To achieve generic scholarly standards, doctoral candidates are expected to progress beyond merely reporting facts; levels of knowledge, skills and attitudes that involve intellectualising, conceptualising and contributing to existing knowledge are required. Candidates and supervisors who display this understanding appreciate connections between doing research and writing a doctoral thesis, and for candidates at some institutions, defending their thesis in a doctoral viva. When these criteria for a doctoral degree are met, then ‘doctorateness’ is demonstrated (Trafford & Leshem 2008; 2011).
- ItemCandidates, supervisors and institutions: pushing postgraduate boundaries: an overview(SUN PRESS, 2014) Frick, Liezel; Bitzer, Eli; Albertyn, RuthINTRODUCTION: Academic boundaries are in some ways similar to national boundaries – they are set up to colonise and govern, but at the same time are constantly challenged to reaffirm their authority and meaning. The postgraduate environment has been and is still colonised and governed by a variety of boundaries: inter/national, geographical, cultural, institutional, disciplinary and paradigmatic; also those of knowledge and relationships, and many more. The contributions to this book set out to explore and challenge such boundaries as they exist within the postgraduate environment. The work of Thomas Kuhn (1962) and others on paradigms set the scene for establishing boundaries both within and between academic disciplines in terms of research. The earlier work of Becher and Trowler (2001) on academic tribes and their territories may also be useful to explain academics’ search for a scholarly identity in the higher education environment. An academic tribe provides its members with an identity and a particular frame of reference. The characteristic identity of a particular academic tribe is developed from an early age – usually already at the undergraduate level, where patterns of thought are imprinted. These ‘tribal’ associations are often solidified at the postgraduate level.
- ItemCommunity-engaged curricula in higher education : the case of a master's programme in play therapy(UNISA Press, 2015) Bitzer, Eli ; Wilson, Lizane; Newmark, R.This article presents the results from research on community-engaged curricula using feedback from international and South African academics who teach on postgraduate programmes with a community engagement component. It also includes the findings from a sample master’s programme in Play Therapy at a South African university. The findings indicated that at least five important issues are related to community-engaged master’s programmes in Play Therapy, namely: programme relevance, integrated scholarship, community based research, reciprocal learning, and close academic staff involvement. Based on these findings a curriculum framework is suggested which caters for an integrated scholarship approach in master’s programmes in Play Therapy that closely engage with community needs. Such a framework may relate to similar or other professional master’s programme curricula.
- ItemConceptualising risk in doctoral education: Navigating boundary tensions(SUN PRESS, 2014) Frick, Liezel; Albertyn, Ruth; Bitzer, EliIntroduction: If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary. – Jim Rohn Risk-taking is an important form of human behaviour, but can be conceptualised in different ways (Byrnes, Miller & Schafer 1999). Some researchers in higher education point to the association between academic risk and its negative consequences (McWilliam, Lawson, Evans & Taylor 2005; McWilliam, Sanderson, Evans, Lawson & Taylor 2006; McWilliam, Singh & Taylor 2002) and therefore conceptualise risk as something that should be avoided or at least carefully managed. Others highlight risk as an opportunity for achievement (Backhouse 2009; Frick 2011, 2012; Holligan 2005). If innovation is key to the generation of new knowledge, then risk is seen to be an integral part of this process (Brown 2010). Knowledge and innovation are considered to be critical contributors to national wealth and welfare and therefore doctoral education has gained increasing significance within the context of human capital development (Bloland 2005; CHE 2009). In this context, the dynamics of balancing risk and innovation (Brown 2010; Latham & Braun 2009) may provide challenges for the supervisory relationship and the research process. Education – and more specifically doctoral education – seems to be risky given the requirement to produce original knowledge. Students need to have “the courage and confidence to take risks, to make mistakes, to invent and reinvent knowledge, and to pursue critical and lifelong inquiries in the world, with the world, and with each other” (Freire 1970, cited in Lin & Cranton 2005:458). MacKinnon (1970) agrees that the courage to take risks is an important characteristic of creative endeavours – such as doctoral studies. In this chapter we therefore take the position that risk is unavoidable within the context of doctoral education, but in order to extend the boundaries and manage risk constructively, supervisors could gain from understanding the concept of risk within this context.
- ItemContinuous programme renewal and critical citizenship : key items for the South African higher education curriculum agenda(AOSIS, 2018-06-18) Bitzer, Eli; Costandius, ElmarieIn this article, we explore the term ‘programme renewal’ and then continue to point out why programme renewal bodes an essential topic for continuous inquiry and attention. We also highlight the importance of approaching programme renewal from a sound theoretical base and point to the important issue of promoting critical citizenship with students in learning programmes. We finally point to the links between programme renewal and critical citizenship through four sample cases.
- ItemCritical citizenship and higher education curricula : legacies and prospects(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2015) Costandius, Elmarie; Bitzer, EliINTRODUCTION: In this chapter we explore three related issues. Firstly, we briefly refer to some of the legacies from South Africa’s colonial and apartheid past, especially as they pertain to university curricula and student learning; secondly, we point to links between critical citizenship and higher education curricula; and thirdly, we refer to a number of relevant examples where critical citizenship education was recently introduced into core curricula by a number of South African universities.
- ItemCultivating African academic capital - intersectional narratives of an African graduate and his PhD study supervisor(Taylor & Francis, 2017) Bitzer, Eli; Matimbo, FulgenceThree theoretical axes, namely ‘habitus’, ‘transformational learning’ and ‘doctorateness’ informed two narrative doctoral accounts. One is from a Tanzanian public official who graduated from a research-intensive South African university – mostly away from work, family and country. The other is from his study supervisor who, for the first time, supervised a candidate from another African country. Both accounts depict an unfolding mutual learning journey: Establishing contact, staying in a foreign town and studying at a foreign university, the trials and tribulations of guiding a foreign African candidate, the search for a scholarly voice, thesis writing, preparing for and taking an oral examination, being successful and final reflections. These narrated experiences are interpreted via three vantage points which provide new insights into studying and supervising across borders and cultures in Africa, pointing to implications for advancing academic capital development.
- ItemCurrent realities and future agendas for critical citizenship education(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2015) Costandius, Elmarie; Bitzer, EliINTRODUCTION: What have been established up to this point? Chapter 1 highlighted three main issues that involve university curricula and critical citizenship education, namely elements of the debate on international curriculum challenges, the debate on national (South African) curriculum challenges as well as challenges linked to curricula engaging “outside” communities. Within the international curriculum arena, four pertinent challenges seem immanent: firstly, an apparent lack of common terminology, language and focus to conduct a proper curriculum discourse; secondly, a lack of curriculum leadership at all levels, including levels of leadership at universities; thirdly, a perceived lack of interest and seriousness in curriculum inquiry; and fourthly, a lack in debate that involve underpinning values that higher education curricula need to promote, particularly in evolving democracies such as South Africa.
- ItemCurriculum challenges in higher education(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2015) Costandius, Elmarie; Bitzer, EliINTRODUCTION: A decade ago and 11 years after the birth of a new democratic political dispensation in South Africa, an important contribution to inquiry into higher education curricula saw the light. But, in writing their well-commended book Engaging the curriculum in higher education, Ron Barnett and Kelley Coate (2005) struggled with a problem that they articulated through a number of bothering questions (2005:161‑162), for instance: Should we, in higher education, refer to “the” curriculum or “a” curriculum? Is the concept of curriculum more of an adjective than a noun – meaning that a curriculum represents intentions and hopes rather than an entity? Is curriculum necessarily singular or can one talk about a generic curriculum as a kind of Platonic ideal in higher education? The point made by Barnett and Coate is that if the language of curriculum inquiry is problematic, even more serious are the difficulties in involving “ordinary” academics and students in curriculum matters and their discourse. This is far from saying that academics and students fail to engage with curriculum issues, but it does point to the fact that curriculum constituents may not always know how their direct involvement shapes curricula and, moreover, that they do not necessarily use the “right” or applicable curriculum language. What is therefore needed, as we are reminded by authors such as Barnett and Coate, is strong curriculum leadership at different levels in higher education institutions – leadership that encapsulates imagining a culture of new and renewed curricula that reach out to future demands, that develop conversational spaces and promote the involvement of academics and students. What may also be needed is curricula that create new energies, which is nothing short of involving universities and other higher education institutions in their own core business, namely to educate for an unknown future.
- ItemEngaging curricula through critical citizenship education : a student learning perspective(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2015) Costandius, Elmarie; Bitzer, EliINTRODUCTION: In the previous chapters we have shown that numerous curriculum challenges remain in higher education – not only in South Africa, but worldwide. One such challenge is to provide a critical citizenship perspective to curricula that may contribute to educate for more democratic and sustainable environments. We have also drawn on Giroux’s views on critical pedagogy and engaged curricula as a potentially useful lens to relate critical citizenship to critical pedagogy. Lastly, we have pointed out that in South Africa, although important higher education policy initiatives had materialised after 1994, much work remains to promote critical citizenship in higher education curricula. At least four elements of learning seem to inform critical citizenship education in curricula, namely psychosocial, transformational, socio-political and multicultural learning. One may also refer here to theories of learning, but what we do realise, however, is that the forces interacting and wrestling for power in constructing curricula that engage students on the one hand, but also keep such curricula vibrant on the other hand, are numerous, complex and ever-shifting. This we want to allude to in the sections that follow.
- ItemAn example of critical citizenship education in an arts curriculum(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2015) Costandius, Elmarie; Bitzer, EliINTRODUCTION: If one considers the importance of global and local change and transformation for constructing just, sustainable and peaceful societies globally, initiatives such as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (Kindzeka 2014) and The Earth Charter Initiative (2012) feature prominently. As discussed earlier, the need for such kind of transformation in thought and action in South Africa as an evolving democracy is vital, as underlined by several policy initiatives, both in higher education institutions and at a national level (DHET 2014; DoE 1997; NPC 2011). At Stellenbosch University (SU), where we both work as academics, the HOPE Project (see Botman 2011 for details on this initiative) was launched in 2008. Its aim was and still is to find concrete ways to reflect on historical influences on the current South African society and to address the need for change towards a higher education that significantly contributes to society. To correspond with this stated aim, a module called “Critical Citizenship” was introduced for first- to third‑year Visual Communication Design students at the Department of Visual Arts at SU. The case study in critical citizenship that we elaborate on involves the Critical Citizenship module in particular. The case study had as its aim to explore the perceptions and attitudes of students, a group of learners from a township school and two art lecturers who participated in the Critical Citizenship module regarding personal transformation through teaching and learning in the module. As a framework for the study, the importance of considering the emotional dimensions of learning (also see Chapters 3 and 4) was emphasised, thereby implying that students should be understood and treated as thinking, feeling and acting persons.
- ItemFirst-year students’ participation and performance in a financial accounting support group(Clute Institute, 2013-04) De Jager, Eloise; Bitzer, EliThe academic performance and retention of first-year students are under scrutiny worldwide. In view of the emphasis on first-year success, a support group was established in a first-year module - Financial Accounting 178 - at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. The article reports on students’ perceptions of their participation and their pass rates within the support group. Both qualitative and quantitative data were obtained from interviews, questionnaires, and an analysis of support group pass rates. The overall conclusion from this study is that students in financial accounting perceived their participation as positive and an increase in pass rates, compared to previous results, was observed. Small-group participation, tutorial classes, and peer student assistance all appear to contribute positively to improved performance of support groups. A number of areas for possible future research were identified from the results.
- ItemGraduate attributes : how some university students experience and learn them(HESA, 2020) Bitzer, Eli; Withering, M.The voices of university students are often absent from academic discourses on the learning of graduate attributes (GAs). Such attributes are mostly constructed and conceptualised from the viewpoint of academics, institutions, education authorities and industry. However, as students within democratic contexts are increasingly challenged to assume greater responsibility for their own growth and development, it seems imperative that they participate in discussions related to the acquiring of graduate attributes. This article reports on how students at one South African university understand and relate to graduate attributes. Data were generated from a group of students at the University of the Western Cape through focus group interviews and photo elicitation. The results indicate that students who understand what graduate attributes are and how they can acquire these attributes might enhance such students’ further growth and their employability.
- ItemHenry Giroux on critical pedagogy and engaged curricula(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2015) Costandius, Elmarie; Bitzer, EliINTRODUCTION: In Neoliberalism’s war on higher education (2014), Henry Giroux refers to neoliberalism as a central organising idea in shaping his critical view of higher education. At the time of its writing, Giroux was Global TV Network Chair in Communications and Professor of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University, Canada. He portrays neoliberalism as a mode of governance that produces identities, subjects and ways of life driven by a survival of the fittest. This ethic is grounded in the idea of the free, possessive individual and committed to the right of ruling groups and institutions to accrue wealth removed from matters of societal ethics and social costs. Also recently, another of his books, Education and the crisis of public values (2012), questioned the North American education system and the attack on the public school sector. In this work his observations are articulate, to the point and in many circles regarded as accurate. In addition to his vast research and publishing contributions, Giroux has an established international network of collaborators who comment on educational and social issues.
- ItemHigher education as a field of study and research(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2009) Bitzer, Eli; Wilkinson, AnnetteIn this chapter we address four issues concerning HE as a field of study and research. We start off by discussing the typical characteristics of a field of study as opposed to a discipline, then we trace a number of moments in the development of HE studies and research internationally and locally. Next we try to suggest a way to ‘map’ the field in South Africa against the background of international mappings and finally we suggest a number of issues to consider for possible future research to extend and promote HE as a field of study and research – particularly in South Africa.
- ItemInquiring the curriculum in higher education : a limited (South African) perspective(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2011) Bitzer, EliINTRODUCTION: This chapter attempts to explore, in a limited way, the concept of curriculum inquiry and to position its applications within the field of higher education studies and research. Obviously, curriculum inquiry is a particular form of educational research addressing different kinds of educational research questions employed, inter alia, to solve pressing educational problems, formulate policies and develop or redevelop programmes and courses. Unfortunately, however, higher education curriculum inquiry is not always performed by educational experts. In fact, curriculum inquiry is mostly attempted by educational practitioners or educational leaders and managers who wish to address a particular curriculum issue in their programmes or courses or solve a particular institutional or systemic problem. As in most research, addressing particular curriculum questions necessitates sound processes and methods of inquiry. This chapter briefly touches on this latter issue, although some of the chapters further in this book will illustrate the point much more clearly. The chapter also attempts to provide some historical or developmental background to curriculum inquiry, including a few glimpses of a vast and relatively unchartered terrain to which the remaining chapters of this book might contribute.
- ItemIntroductory chapter(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2011) Bitzer, Eli; Botha, NonnieINTRODUCTION: Inquiry into higher education curricula or, what is sometimes referred to in a broader sense as ‘the curriculum’ in higher education, is a complex business. One important reason for this is that higher education institutions operate in increasingly super-complex environments (Barnett 2000, 2003, 2011) while the very idea of ‘the curriculum’ is unstable and its boundaries vague (Barnett & Coate 2005). Typical questions that arise on the issue of curriculum inquiry include whether the curriculum is merely confined to intended educational experiences and stated outcomes or whether the hidden curriculum should also be accounted for. What are the external and internal forces exerting pressures on the curriculum? Does the curriculum focus on the actual lived learning experiences of students or does it extend outside of the seminar, the classroom, the tutorial, the laboratory, the library or the computer centre? Does the curriculum have boundaries in terms of its geography, allocated time or responsibility? Where does the institutional concern for the curriculum start and end? Where do issues such as pedagogy, teaching, learning and assessment overlap within or across the curriculum? All of these questions and many others make curriculum inquiry a vast and complex field that cannot be even closely addressed within the confines of a single book.
- ItemJourneying with higher education studies and research: A personal perspective(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2009) Bitzer, EliThis chapter captures different ‘stages’ of the development of my own journey with the field of higher education (HE) studies and research. It reflects change and development of the field from personal experiences covering five ‘developmental stages’ and a period of almost 30 years. Stage one represents a novice position from where I knew absolutely nothing about the field of HE and when the learning curve was exceptionally steep. Questions I try to answer include: What literature was available at the time? What were the seminal works? What were the themes that dominated the field? The second stage covers my own master’s and doctoral studies. In each instance there were dominant influences, forces and literature that guided my postgraduate work. I explore the question of how these studies influence my perspectives concerning higher education and how they impacted on my future work. The third stage deals with projects and post-PhD research and the initial stages of publishing in the field leading onto a fourth stage where I started supervising PhD students. Stage five represents the present with a broader view is taken within the limitations of one person’s perspective to take such a stance. This last section also ties in with the chapter by Bitzer and Wilkinson elsewhere in this book that addresses aspects of higher education as a field of study in South Africa.
- ItemLearning the language of the doctorate : doctorateness as a threshold concept in doctoral literacy(Stellenbosch University, 2014) Bitzer, EliIn academia, the definition of literacy has evolved from a focus on reading and writing to encompass more inclusive and expansive perspectives. Such perspectives have come from researchers involved in exploring literacy among diverse populations and across traditional divides such as cultural, political and socioeconomic boundaries. Changing definitions of literacy include usage in expressions such as ‘computer literacy’, ‘civic literacy’, ‘health literacy’, ‘cultural literacy’ and others. Recently, new directions in literacy research were foregrounded by critical questions that seek to discover how literacy functions in doctoral studies and within research communities. For instance, what does it mean to be ‘literate’ as a doctoral member of a research culture, within a field of research, within the academic profession and so on? In addition, doctoral candidates often grapple with what may be termed ‘threshold concepts’. Such concepts include the meaning of the doctorate as a qualification, its aims, its narrative and the level of literacy required to succeed with a doctorate. Against this background the article explores firstly how the concept of being literate has been broadened to include literacy for doctoral learning; secondly, it explains why doctorateness remains a threshold concept for many doctoral candidates and supervisors, and thirdly it provides some evidence from at least five years of working with doctoral education and doctoral supervisor development workshops to support an argument for doctoral literacy. Finally, the article provides some implications which emerged from a better understanding of the language and requirements of doctorateness as an essential literacy requirement for doctoral candidates and their supervisors.