Browsing by Author "Van der Merwe, Antoinette"
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- 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.
- 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.
- ItemStudent and staff portals as support channels for the first-year academy(2009) Van der Merwe, Antoinette; Pina, RalphIntroduction: Using technology to support student learning is well accepted, but using technology to support systemic initiatives is a less well-known approach. This paper discusses some of the issues that should be taken into account when designing portals and shares some of the innovative approaches adopted at Stellenbosch University (SU) in order to support the First-year Academy (FYA) initiative. In 2002, SU initiated the Portal Project, an ambitious drive to develop and establish web portals as key infrastructure and tools for campus communities. Since then, three web portals have been developed and rolled out; namely, a student portal (www.mymaties.com), an alumni portal (www.matiesalumni.net) and a staff portal (my.sun.ac.za). The FYA is an academic initiative focused on the success of all first-year students and was officially launched at the beginning of 2007. One of the specific aims identified by the coordinating committee of this initiative was to investigate the use of portals as communication channels to students, lecturers and parents or the persons responsible for the specific first-year student’s account. Timeous and targeted communication with these stakeholder groups on the progress of this group of students is of utmost importance to enhance the students’ chances to achieve success. The coordinating committee felt that the portals, as ‘user-centric’ communication channels, would be ideally suited to fulfil this role (First-year Academy Coordinating Committee, 2006:10). This chapter will firstly provide some background as to how Stellenbosch University identifies a portal. It will then show how the portals specifically add value to the FYA initiative. The chapter will also show how the portals strive to provide student-centric and staff-centric places of work, integrating many useful functions, services and information feeds into a common interface. We will share useful lessons learnt, as well as what we consider to be critical success factors for institutional portals. Finally, we will provide a glimpse of future plans.
- 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.