Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Higher Education]]> vol. 36 num. 2 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Is democracy still relevant in south african higher education?</b>]]> At least, over the past four decades post-colonial African higher education has undergone significant changes in the quest to cultivate democratic educational / pedagogical actions in universities. From its early insistence on deliberative action (Waghid 2001), more recently, it assumed the forms of both ethical pursuits (Davids and Waghid 2016) and caring (Waghid 2019). Yet, as South Africa continues its unprecedented transition into a democracy, it is becoming abundantly evident that what is needed in higher education should surpass deliberative, ethical, and caring encounters. The expectation that a democratic climate would ease the deep inequalities in higher education, would somehow set the scene for a renewal of knowledge, and restore opportunities for historically marginalised communities, lies in limbo. Instead, what we witness is the awakening of renewed resistance - this time, not against an unjust apartheid regime, but against a democracy that seems incapable of yielding to its own ideals. In this article, therefore, we argue that for higher education to enact its democratic imperative - that is, its transformative ideals, necessary not only for its own public thriving, but for its citizenship - it ought to invoke the idea of resistance (Davids and Waghid 2021). <![CDATA[<b>Academic, social and economic experiences of first-year students: case study</b>]]> The main precept of the current study was to explore first-year students' academic, social and economic experiences at a University of Technology (pseudonym: University of Hard Knocks (UHK)). In response to the research questions, the study sought to interrogate the challenges faced by students by finding out whether they would choose the university again given a second chance, and if not why not. It also sought to establish how students would like the institution to improve in order to enhance first-year students' experiences (FYSE). The approach applied was both quantitative and qualitative to allow students to reveal their experiences of the university, while simultaneously expressing such perceptions in descriptive format (for the quantitative part). Guided by Tinto's (2013) student departure theory, data were collected using semi-structured questionnaires distributed and sent through invites to all 16 000 first (1st) year students - which served as the population. However, rested upon the research questions for the current study and given that the instrument used was semi-structured, data was received from participants totally 4020 for the quantitative aspect (mainly descriptive). Of this sample (4020), and for the purpose of the current research questions, forty (40) participants were further selected randomly, to evaluate their responses as directed and coordinated by the current research objectives. The results revealed that to ensure appropriate economic and social integration, efforts should be made to automate and secure university processes and, most importantly, provide accredited/licensed accommodation. To achieve effective academic integration systems, learning space and the lack of transparency in accommodation allocations should be addressed. It is therefore recommended that UHK considers economic, social and academic integration processes and procedures to improve the campus experience. <![CDATA[<b>Investigating the self-perceived acquired competencies of humanities graduates at a south african university</b>]]> The primary objective of this study was to investigate the self-perceived competencies acquired by humanities graduates at a South African university. This self-assessment enables graduates to assess their strengths and weaknesses regarding their competencies and estimate their employability. The secondary objective was to measure the employment status of humanities graduates. The study followed a quantitative approach using a cross-sectional survey design. The convenience sampling method was used since the self-administered questionnaire was distributed to graduates at two graduation ceremonies. Independent samples t-tests were done to compare the mean scores on the six dimensions of the competencies scale between gender, schools and degrees. Chi-square tests were done to establish whether there are associations between gender, faculty schools, degrees and employment status. Spearman rank-order correlation was performed to measure the correlations between the six factors of the competencies scale. The six individual competencies that scored the highest means were: "(1) tolerance, appreciation of different points of view, (2) written communication skills, (3) critical thinking, (4) English language proficiency, (5) working in a team, and (6) taking responsibility for decisions". A follow-up study should be done among employers to determine what competencies they require from humanities graduates. <![CDATA[<b>"You can't go to the army and expect to be a vice-chancellor": they must become good scholars</b>]]> This article is a study of a university vice chancellor (VC) and specifically the leadership qualities that articulate success. There is broad agreement across the higher education sector that good leadership is central to the performance of university vice chancellors (Cloete, Maassen, and Bailey 2015; Macfarlane 2012; Jansen 2017; Scott et al. 2010). University vice-chancellor's performance are measured against at range of issues and include determining the institution's strategic goals, academic standing and transformation agenda (Leibowitz 2012). To run a university there is need for university vice-chancellors to articulate particular skills, values and qualities that will enable them to achieve success in these wide-ranging and competing goals and agendas. In South Africa however with few exceptions (Swartz et al. 2019; Jansen 2017), fundamental questions remain about what these values and qualities are and they arise in university vice-chancellors own account of leadership. Although vice-chancellors occupy an eminent position in the country especially in the context of transforming higher education in the country (Cloete 2014), specific attention to the values and qualities that vice-chancellors articulate as vital for leadership has been understudied. This article is interested in the question: how do vice-chancellors shape leadership qualities are how do these arise? This question is explored empirically, through narrative enquiry by focusing on one vice-chancellor's account of leadership qualities. Through a close-focus examination of the nuances associated with a university vice chancellor's conceptualisation of leadership, this article provides insights into what qualities are relevant for effective leadership. As noted by Dewan and Myatt (2008) the successful performance of a leader is based on the question of which qualities are relevant for effective leadership. There remains a marginal consideration of university vice-chancellor's perspectives on the issues of effective leadership and how they arise especially in the context of South Africa's turbulent higher education environment. <![CDATA[<b>Opening the doors of learning: increasing access to music degrees</b>]]> This article is contextualized for Music and is a response to the CHE (2013) Report that proposes a flexible curriculum structure for undergraduate degrees in South Africa, to address student under preparedness. Research states that music graduates need well developed identities in music, as well as generic, transferable skills to ensure lifelong employment and that a bachelor of music degree is best suited for this. However, in the South African context, the bachelor of music degree qualification is not accessible to the majority of prospective students as they are under prepared to study music at tertiary level. Only a minority of learners receive quality music education at school, while the majority of learners, including those from low socio-economic communities, do not receive formal music education. Under preparedness to study music, has traditionally been addressed through certificates and diploma qualifications in music. A discussion, and interpretation of the literature, has led to the researcher to develop an alternate framework to both improve student access to music degrees and manage under preparedness. The proposed approach advocates that music departments at universities adopt the framework of the national certificate vocation as an alternative to certificates and diplomas. The alternative curriculum structure for music, would be a more cost effective way to address under preparedness, improve academic success and lead to high skill levels. The study is situated in a constructivist, interpretive worldview, with a qualitative research design. Purposive sampling in the form of the choice of literature for the theoretical framework was adopted. While this theoretical study is contextualized for music, it is applicable to other fields. <![CDATA[<b>Designing theoretical assessments at nursing higher education institutions: a scoping review</b>]]> Assessment in higher education remains one of the most reliable forms of assessing the effectiveness of the learning and teaching (L) process. Excellence in theory assessment design is, therefore, a pivotal element of the success of many Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) around the world. This scoping review aimed to establish current assessment best practices in nursing at HEIs. The five steps of Arksey and O'Malley's framework guided this scoping review. Following a systematic search of various databases, including Academic Search Complete, CINAHL, ERIC, MEDLINE, PubMed, Sage Online Journals, SCOPUS, and Wiley Online Library for the period from 2010 to 2020, a rigorous screening process was undertaken by three independent reviewers. The search terms included assessment best practice and nursing education institution. Of the 652 articles screened, 12 studies met the inclusion criteria. Four quantitative, four qualitative, one mixed-method, and three studies that did not specify their design were included. The findings revealed that various factors influence how educators design assessments. Theoretical assessment design is a vital activity and requires collaboration between policymakers and HEIs to enhance the quality designing of assessments by educators through professional development. <![CDATA[<b>Graduate employability skills: the Voice of Agricultural Technical Vocational Education and Training (ATVET) students in Zimbabwe</b>]]> The graduate employability has seen most governments, institutions of higher learning and industries engaging each other, as industries feel universities and colleges are churning out graduates that are not work ready. This has led to many strands to the discourse of graduate employability. One strand of the discourse is whether the higher education institutions should produce work-ready graduates. Another strand of the discourse is on how these institutions can make their graduates work ready, if it is an expectation that the graduates should be work ready. There is also another strand of the discourse on what constitutes graduate employability, that is, what skills make graduates work ready. This article looks at the latter from the perspectives of Agricultural Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ATVET) students in Zimbabwe. The article reports on part of a major study that was conducted on student internship and employability. Data was collected through focus group discussions with final year students from three agricultural colleges, that were selected using an eclectic sampling strategy which incorporated both typical case and maximal variation. The study showed that students view soft skills, namely entrepreneurship, financial literacy, innovativeness, ethics, problem-solving, honesty and some technical skills as essential to them. <![CDATA[<b>Sociocultural theory for academic literacy research involving argumentation in institutions of higher learning</b>]]> Researchers in the field of academic literacy, specifically those focused on the first-year level in universities, are often required to articulate the theoretical framework that informs their critical orientation. In this process, an indication of the researcher's ontological view of the nature of academic literacy practices should also be declared. Ontologically, this study questions whether academic literacy constitutes a mechanistic technology or a socially emergent mode of arguing in higher education. This article reviews concepts and theories that warrant the second stance and a sociocultural paradigm of academic literacy research. A sociocultural explanatory framework incorporates human identities and cultures into analyses of the ways that humans employ language in universities. This framework accentuates the influences of social context and power relationships in the designation of acceptable modes of argumentation in the university. The results of the study indicate that theoretical discussions in academic literacy research are epistemic and ontological in nature. Theoretical frameworks are epistemic constructs as they reflect a researcher's conceptual understanding of the field of academic literacy. Conceptual paradigms are also ontological constructs due to their exposure of the researcher's understanding of the nature of academic literacy practices as an element of human existence. The study concludes by articulating a seven-point ontology that researchers can apply towards theoretically framing their own studies in the field of academic literacy and argumentation. <![CDATA[<b>Using plagiarism feedback as assessment for learning to socialise students into disciplinary writing: a theoretical perspective</b>]]> Plagiarism is an increasingly common offense at some South African institutions of higher learning. The plagiarism range of assessment tasks escalated during the last two decades, as a result of the changing student body that has entered universities after 1994. To address this problem, universities have implemented different electronic plagiarism detection programmes such as Turnitin and Safe Assign that can identify similarities in paragraphs of texts from different documents. The problem is that students are not being trained on how to interpret the results provided by these plagiarism detection programmes. Presently, feedback from plagiarism detection programmes is not being utilised as a self-assessment learning tool but instead is used as a discipline measure to penalise students. Given this gap, this theoretical article argues that the feedback from plagiarism programmes should be used by lecturing staff to teach students about citing and making knowledge claims to socialise them into the literacy of the discipline. This article draws from Knight's (2001) and Chew, Lin Ding, and Rowell (2015) model on assessment for learning, which argues that feedback on assessment tasks should be used to improve students' writing to avoid plagiarism. This emphasised the need for a standardised "Turnitin policy" be in place at institutions to enable a continuous learning experience for all students across the institution. The article concludes the critical role of lecturers to socialise students into the discourse community, by making explicit the rules of the discipline through assessment, resulting in students not being tempted to plagiarise. <![CDATA[<b>Pathways to research leadership for early career researchers in Africa: a potential role for african and global funders</b>]]> Early career researchers at African universities face numerous challenges and demands within a context of minimum resources; yet on the other hand, there is significant expectation for doing excellent science that is of high quality with integrity, while aligning science with societal goals. Furthermore, there is also expectation to increase outputs, make the system more inclusive, attract international partners and contribute to the University's global rankings. The need therefore to build research capacity, expand the number of active researchers and advance the careers of African researchers has never been more critical, particularly if continental and other global priorities are to be achieved. There is consensus that research leadership is essential to building research capacity in African universities. As a result, there have been increasing investments in building research capacity and research leadership, with initiatives ranging from the creation of north-south research partnerships across disciplines and empirical subjects, to training research leaders and university administrators in top ranking universities in Europe and North America, as well as building the capacity of funders and science systems in Africa. This article will examine the competencies required to be a research leader and the programs that are currently available that support capacity building in research leadership. In addition, it will provide perspectives on the role that global and African funders should play to advance the careers of early career researchers to transition into research leaders, foster innovation, build linkages with policy makers and promote scientific leadership in Africa. <![CDATA[<b>Filling a theoretical void: the lived experiences of "coloured" women as mathematics educators in higher education</b>]]> Thanks to intense prohibition and regulation of access to higher education during apartheid, a significant number of teachers from historically marginalised groups did not necessarily enter the profession as a first choice or as a desirable profession. Instead, post-schooling choices were based on access and financial support, restricting many marginalised groups to enrol at teacher training colleges. Beyond schools, there were no career pathways for "coloured", "black", and "Indian" teachers to teach at a higher education level. In mathematics education, the challenges experienced by "coloured" women are especially pronounced yet unexplored. To date, the dominant literature has leaned towards a negative portrayal, informed by stereotypical imagery and caricature. By exploring the lived experiences of six "coloured" women, who succeeded in establishing themselves as mathematics educators in higher education, the article is driven by a twofold imperative. On the one hand, it seeks to highlight the intersectional barriers of discrimination and marginalisation encountered by these women during apartheid and democratic South Africa. On the other hand, the article is interested in filling the theoretical void on the lives and capabilities of "coloured" women as mathematics educators in higher education. <![CDATA[<b>Covid-19 and the quality of mathematics education teaching and learning in a first-year course</b>]]> This article is vested on the need for higher education educators to be reflective on their practices in order to configure effective ways to interact with the students and knowledge for specific courses. It is uncontested that education systems globally are under constant pressure to respond to the changing needs of societies. The outbreak of COVID-19 has reminded us that the complexity of education needs responsive practices to facilitate effective teaching and learning across all levels of schooling globally. All over the world, the normative ways of teaching and learning evolved drastically in the first quarter of the 2020 academic year when teachers and students found online offerings to be the dominant option available as a sequel to the pandemic conditions. In South Africa specifically, students and teachers were thrust into virtual teaching and learning situations with the majority of them having no preparation for this shift. This article presents an auto-ethnographical account of the knowledge gaps in the teaching and learning of mathematics education in a first-year education course in an online space. We used auto-ethnography to discuss our experiences of teaching limits and continuity. We argue that teaching the topic on an online platform constrain student teachers' procedural thinking, conceptual development, and demonstration of their thought processes during mathematics learning and assessment. We also discuss our experiences of developing assessment tasks for the topic and how students identified cheating mechanisms to answer questions in assessments. <![CDATA[<b>How ADP students navigate enablements and constraints of the programme: an exploration of structure and agency</b>]]> Academic Development Programmes (ADPs), or Extended Curriculum Programmes (ECPs), continue to play a central role in increasing access to previously marginalised students in higher education in South Africa. Using Archer's morphogenetic approach, this study examines how a group of ADP students "made their way" through their engineering undergraduate studies. Twelve students in their fourth year of study were interviewed three times and selected university documents were analysed. The authors found that the fragmented curriculum, shortened consolidation and examination periods, and unfavourable examination timetables potentially constrained the students' aspirations. In addition, the mainstream students and lecturers' ideas about ADP students worsened their experience of marginalisation and exception. We also found that students experienced the mainly black student enrolment of the ADP as racial discrimination. The findings indicate that students found themselves in enormously constrained circumstances, but they also exhibited what Archer calls "corporate agency" and different "modes of reflexivity" to overcome some of these constraints. We argue that the establishment of Academic Development Programmes as separate from mainstream curricula, while enabling access to some extent, may have unintended consequences of also constraining the students for whom they are designed. <![CDATA[<b>Ideological positioning of extended curriculum programmes - a case study of a large south african research university</b>]]> Extended Curriculum Programmes (ECPs) have been in existence in Africa and Southern Africa since the late 1970s. Various needs for programmes exist, but the primary motivator in the current South African context is a transformative one. While many historically white institutions have either scaled down or closed their ECPs, the University of Pretoria runs several large ECP programmes with the largest one located on the Mamelodi Campus. The location of the campus in a township offers many opportunities for transformative community engagement. This article interrogates the ideological underpinnings of the ECP programmes and other activities offered at the Mamelodi campus as these have evolved from their genesis in the University of Pretoria's Foundation Year Programme in 2001. The article argues that a point has been reached where colour and ethnicity are no longer the only criteria for transformation, though the South African education system continues to be plagued by social inequality. Consequently, extended curriculum programmes need to serve the interests of the more disadvantaged section of the population, not the lower performing echelons of the more advantaged citizens, even though these may be black. The most recent government draft policy document provides possibilities for funding developmental interventions across the entire undergraduate education system but will require considerable sophistication in terms of pedagogy and curriculum design. The article concludes with a recommendation for a more responsive selection policy and curricula that provide a smoother transition into the programmes that students wish to access, including those with high barriers to entry. <![CDATA[<b>South african student leadership unrest and unsettled constructions: a cibart analysis</b>]]> Student leadership in South Africa is unsettled and characterised by unrest. The perturbing changes in the higher education system, including global shifts and crises, impact South African student leadership psychologically. Consequently, this article seeks to understand the system psychodynamics of South African student leadership. Data was collected during a social dream drawing (SDD) session with student leaders at a South African university before the onset of the Fees Must Fall movement. The SDD session aimed to understand the social construction of student leadership at a South African university and data was analysed through discourse analysis with a psychodynamic interpretation. For this article, a co-reflector was incorporated for secondary analysis after Fees Must Fall to reorganise, reinterpret the data and enhance the initial findings using a conflict, identity, boundaries, authority, role, task (CIBART) model. CIBART findings show that students have a need for a collective and shared vision, and find it unsettling when this need is not satisfied due to the complex environment. Thereby, their psychological safety is threatened, while anxiety is heightened in an environment characterised by transformation and decolonisation agendas. Substantial conflicts impact authority dynamics while, simultaneously, student leadership identity and boundaries are blurry and in crisis. Thus, the compromised clarity of student leadership elevates implications for the confidence that is required for the role and task of student leadership. Consequently, efforts to reduce the anxiety of student leadership ought to be a priority. Psychologists are indicated to play a crucial role in restoring the psychological safety and security of student leaders. <![CDATA[<b>Life design counselling with a learner from a vocational school setting</b>]]> This article reports on the usefulness of life design counselling for a learner from a vocational school (learner with intellectual impairment) when making post school decisions. Vocational and/or career research and reporting on people with intellectual disability/impairment, especially in the South African education context, is limited and infrequent. A purposively sampled, single, intervention case study was utilised. Data generation and analysis were approached simultaneously. The intervention uncovered career/vocational themes significant to the participant. These themes highlighted the meaning he attributed to work and his role and purpose in the world of work. The intervention also proved effective in cultivating his self- and career-efficacy and adaptability. Post intervention, the participant more confidently pursued his passion and was able to identify and utilise resources more definitely. Further, longitudinal research with groups of people with different kinds of impairment from vocational school settings is needed to further examine the value of the intervention described here. <![CDATA[<b>Exploring the influence of students' matric accounting knowledge on the successful completion of a bcom accounting mainstream degree: a comparative study at a university in the Western Cape</b>]]> Studies conducted nationally found that students with Matric Accounting knowledge performed significantly better than students without it in university-level Accounting modules (Baard, Steenkamp, and Kidd 2010; Papageorgiou 2017; Steenkamp, Baard, and Frick 2009). However, the reality at South African universities is that Accounting as a school subject is not always a requirement to pursue BCom Accounting studies. This situation means that at certain universities, Accounting as a school subject is not taken into consideration for this degree, while this is the case at some universities. This study focuses on two cohorts of students enrolled for the mainstream programme in 2017-2019 at a South African university. The reason for focusing on these two cohorts was to establish the throughput rate of students with or without Matric Accounting knowledge. Two most significant findings of this study are that firstly, students who obtained at least 70 per cent for Matric Accounting completed the degree within the minimum three-year time frame, while students who obtained at least 80 per cent had a higher throughput rate of 48.8 per cent. Secondly, students who achieved lower than 70 per cent for Mathematics and did not complete Matric Accounting were unable to complete the degree in the minimum timeframe. The research methodology includes both quantitative and qualitative methods. The results can inform the selection and admission criteria at tertiary institutions and inform other stakeholders in higher education on how school subjects and grades influence students' throughput rate.