Browsing by Author "Leibowitz, Brenda"
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- ItemAcademic literacy as a graduate attribute: implications for thinking about curriculum(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2011) Leibowitz, BrendaINTRODUCTION: This chapter is set within the current focus on graduate attributes. These are qualities which students require in order to study at university, as well as and more typically, the attributes that students require in order to graduate as competent and meaningfully engaged members of society. The particular subset of attributes on which the chapter focuses covers approaches towards academic literacy, broadly understood as encompassing writing and reading, digital literacy and information literacy. I locate my understanding of academic literacy within what is broadly referred to as a ‘situated literacies’ approach and trace the implications of this approach for curriculum design and for research into the curriculum. In order to substantiate many of the claims in this chapter, I provide examples from various studies conducted while being involved in research and development work on language across the curriculum at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), and from research into language, biography and identity I have conducted while working at Stellenbosch University. I draw from the international literature, as well as from South African literature, which has its own trajectory and concern to respond to the educational, racial and linguistically saturated divisions and inequities of our past. This chapter makes a strong argument for an understanding of graduate attributes in general – and of academic literacy in particular – as practices deeply embedded in the disciplines. For pragmatic reasons, it might be necessary to provide for stand-alone approaches towards the facilitation of academic literacy amongst students. With regard to the broader concept of graduate attributes, I ask whether the kinds of attributes we expect from students, such as criticality or lifelong learning, should not be the subject of attention for educators themselves.
- ItemAfterword(SUN MeDIA, 2012) Leibowitz, BrendaEarlier this year I attended a conference in Götenburg, Sweden, on integrating language teaching into the disciplines – nothing overtly to do with social justice or the public good. One evening after a long and tiring day mulling over the conference proceedings, a group of conference goers, including two from South Africa, one from Spain and one from the United States, settled down for a drink and a (hopefully) frivolous conversation. The conversation soon became serious. We talked about South Africa and apartheid and the past; about Spain and its right-wing dictatorship; and about the United States and resistance to the Vietnam war. Each of us expressed our strong feelings about the injustices in our own countries that we had to endure and grapple with somehow. We found ourselves comparing our attitudes towards these ‘pasts’ with those of the younger generation that had been born after these periods of extreme injustice. Some of our children or students were interested in what we had to say, but sometimes they resisted this ‘harping on’ about the past. In South Africa the term ‘born frees’ has been coined to discuss the lives of young people born since apartheid ended.
- ItemCritical professionalism: a lecturer attribute for troubled times(SUN MeDIA, 2012) Leibowitz, Brenda; Holgate, DavidIntroduction: This chapter describes the research-based project, Critical Professionalism, which gave rise to several of the chapters in this volume. We suggest that the concept of critical professionalism, with its strong valueorientation, makes a foundational contribution to approaches to professional development for teaching for the public good in South Africa and other parts of the world. We use data generated from this project to tease out some of the characteristics of critical professionals, as well as some of the key ingredients necessary to support the emergence of academics as critical professionals. We begin by setting the scene for the study and explaining why, in the present era, academics’ sense of agency, criticality and professionalism might be threatened – to a fair degree by the rise of the audit culture and a strong managerial and prescriptive approach to steering the direction of higher education.
- ItemEquity and access: a curricular perspective(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2016) Leibowitz, BrendaIntroduction: This chapter is concerned with equity and access to the curriculum, which has been shown by numerous analyses of statistics, as well as experience of those of us who are concerned to improve the state of education in South Africa, to be extremely problematic with unequal levels of student success. The view of ‘curriculum’ adopted in this chapter is an expanded one. It proposes the idea of the curriculum as an “active conceptual force” (Le Grange 2016:8). ‘Pedagogy’ and ‘curriculum’ can be plotted on a continuum from design choices at the micro level to choices at the macro level. Clearly the curriculum, even the expanded view, is embedded within a broader ecology of learning and living phenomena. However, for the purposes of this short chapter, the ‘learning’ dimensions are focussed upon. Equity and equality, it is proposed, are advanced within a conceptualisation of cognitive justice, which is itself interrelated with the notion of ‘social justice’ (de Sousa Santos 2014). Fraser’s (2009) description of social justice is extremely useful. She equates social justice with the ability to interact on an equal footing with social peers. In order to achieve this participatory parity in a higher education context, social arrangements would have to be put in place, which would make it possible for individuals to interact on a par with one other. The three dimensions of social justice, which are interrelated and mutually dependent, are: recognition, which refers mostly to the cultural domain and the recognition of the status of groups; distribution, which pertains mostly to the material domain, to resources such as computers, parents’ salaries to finance higher education; and, representation, which is more political, and includes who is regarded as a legitimate citizen, who may participate in political processes, and who is entitled to voice needs.
- ItemAn evaluative framework for a socially just institution(SUN MeDIA, 2012) Bozalek, Vivienne; Leibowitz, BrendaIntroduction: Lindi arrived at a privileged South African university from rural Kwa-Zulu-Natal, having been top of her class most of her life. She suddenly found herself unable to participate as an equal in her new environment. This is the situation many South Africans find themselves in when coming to university for the first time, or when starting a postgraduate course at a new university. In this chapter we consider what institutional arrangements would be necessary for students to participate as equals in higher education regardless of – or in fact taking into account – social class, race, gender, sexuality, ablebodiedness, language or religion. We view higher education as both a valuable process and an outcome. But what does this mean in contexts of severe inequality? How do we achieve education as a public good, and how do we know when we are achieving it? To answer these questions, we make use of a normative framework which assists us in examining the values that underpin higher education policies and practices. We regard this as an important stepping stone in building visions of what may be possible in higher education institutions. It allows alternative discursive spaces to be opened up for public debate and policy development in higher education.
- ItemIntroduction: Perspectives on the first-year experience(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2009) Van Schalkwyk, Susan; Leibowitz, Brenda; Van der Merwe, AntoinetteThe international focus on the first-year experience (FYE) represents a strong and well-established movement in higher education. A focus on what happens in the first year at university, and how this influences student success, has become a fixture on the higher education landscape. In 2009, the annual International Conference on the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition was held for the 29th time. Through the years, its main sponsoring partner, the National Resource Center at the University of South Carolina, has been instrumental in establishing the movement world-wide.
- ItemIntroduction: Reflections on higher education and the public good(SUN MeDIA, 2012) Leibowitz, BrendaThere is always a potential contribution that higher education can make to the public good. In the twenty-first century specific concerns that require our attention are sustainability and global warming, human mobility and migration and peculiarly contemporary diseases such as AIDS. These can be seen as contemporary manifestations of protean and oft-recurring social and natural ills such as war and conflict, food insecurity and religious and ideological rivalries – phenomena to which higher education applies its collective mind and know-how. The greater the technological advances we make, for example in health provision and communications technology, the greater the frustration that we cannot do more to make the world a better place. Despite the enormous potential of higher education as an institution to contribute to the public good, it does not deliver on this potential, as Saleem Badat, the vice chancellor of Rhodes University, observes: Higher education holds the promise of contributing to social justice, development and democratic citizenship. Yet, this promise often remains unrealised and universities, instead, frequently continue to be a powerful mechanism of social exclusion and injustice. (2010:6).
- ItemPostgraduate study in uncharted territory: a comparative study(SUN MeDIA, 2016) Leibowitz, Brenda; Wisker, Gina; Lamberti, PiaINTRODUCTION: Worldwide many mid-career professionals in a variety of professional occupations now undertake PhDs (Kiley 2015). In the UK for example, the drive for post-1992 universities to be more research-active, and the impetus from the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, and upcoming REF 2020, has put the spotlight on recruiting, developing and motivating researchers, and encouraging academic staff already in posts to complete doctorates. And in South Africa, the achievement of a PhD is seen as a contribution to education for the public good, and an enhancement to the development of the knowledge economy (ASSAf 2010). This focus emphasises the importance of the PhD award for the academic career trajectory, and highlights the drive to encourage research-informed and research-led teaching and learning, with students as co-constructors of knowledge. The move underlines the vital role that mid-career researchers play in research productivity. The requirement that staff obtain PhDs can create pressures (Harley 2002), where staff have to become ‘ringmasters’, juggling the various institutional roles they have to play (Toews & Yazedjian, 2007). It also can lead to ‘creeping credentialism’, where a PhD is seen as essential in academic life but might be a troublesome extra demand on a professional with qualifications in their own profession (Griffith 1995; Harley 2000; Harley & Lee 1997; Henkel 1997; Henkel 2000).
- ItemThe relationship between identity, language and teaching and learning in higher education in South Africa(Stellenbosch University, 2005) Leibowitz, Brenda; Adendorff, Hanelie; Daniels, Shariefa; Loots, Ansie; Nakasa, Sipho; Ngxabazi, Nosipiwo; Van der Merwe, Antoinette; Van Deventer, IdiletteThe study on the relationship of identity, language and teaching and learning was conducted by a team of eight members at a higher education institution in the Western Cape. The aims of the research were to investigate the relationship between language, identity and learning, to show how this investigation can benefit dialogue about transformation, and to facilitate the research development of the team. The research design made use of narrative and educational biography in semi-structured interviews with 64 staff members and 100 students. The study supports views of identity as constructed and non-unitary. It shows how language, both as proficiency in the dominant medium of communication and as discourse, is a key component of identity in a higher education institution. The interviews demonstrated how, according to lecturers and students, language and discourse function as primary influences on individuals’ acculturation and integration into the academic community. According to the interviewees, language as a marker of identity is interwoven with other aspects of identity. It is both a resource and a source of identification and affiliation. The research demonstrated that dialogue and self reflection can be facilitated via research into identity, teaching and learning, and that this can be beneficial for both the interviewees and the research team.
- ItemTowards a pedagogy of possibility: Teaching and learning from a ‘social justice’ perspective(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2009) Leibowitz, BrendaThis chapter takes the argument of Waghid (this volume) on higher education as a public good as its starting point and sketches the challenges presented in relation to this, by the educational biographies of learners and educators from varied social backgrounds. It considers what education as a public good would be like, especially if higher education were to ensure participatory parity for all learners. With reference to a study on educational biographies of 100 students and 64 lecturers at one South African university, it discusses the three dimensions of social justice posited by Fraser (2009), namely distribution, participation and recognition. It further considers the interrelationship of structure, agency and responsibility, and how this interrelationship impacts on the task of higher education to facilitate the potential for the successful learning of all students. The chapter concludes with a model, depicting the responsibilities of the key role-players for realising higher education as a social good. The model also contains references to research and findings on innovations by researchers and educators, whose work serves as examples of what can be done to realise this pedagogy of possibility.
- ItemWhat makes a good first-year lecturer(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2009) Leibowitz, Brenda; Van Schalkwyk, Susan; Van der Merwe, Antoinette; Herman, Nicoline; Young, GertIntroduction: The first year is an important stepping-stone in the career of the undergraduate student. Lecturers of first-year students play an important role in guiding students into this new phase of their lives. Much research has focused on the challenges facing new students, especially struggling, or non-traditional students. However, to our knowledge, little has been written about the attributes of the lecturers who actively promote student learning during this phase. The contribution of lecturers of first-year students has tended to be downplayed, especially at ‘research-led’ universities. Our work in Stellenbosch University’s First-year Academy (FYA), an initiative to promote the holistic learning experience of all first-year students at the University, gave us an opportunity to explore this issue. The exploration was based on a sub-activity of the FYA, which aimed to encourage the academic achievement of first-year students and to acknowledge the work of lecturers of first-year students. The activity involved inviting the 30 top-performing students across the University to a dinner hosted by the University’s Rector. These students each nominated the lecturer who, in their view, made the most significant contribution to their academic success. The students were required to write a letter to the lecturer, explaining why he or she had had an impact on the student’s academic performance. The lecturer, in turn, was required to write a letter of support and encouragement back to the student. These letters were then exchanged during the dinner. This initiative was extremely successful and well received, particularly among the academic community. The conversations that emerged during and after the event served as a catalyst for the study.