Booth

  • Scholarship of teaching and learning and the transformation of learners, institutions and society

    Shirley Booth (University of the Witwatersrand) 
    Ruksana Osman (University of the Witwatersrand)
    Elsie Anderberg (Lund University)

    Research seminar

    Themes: internationalisation of the curriculum, the student experience and learning, lifelong learning

    Tuesday 2 September 2008, 09.00-10.00 in Teasdale

    The work is being carried out in a team, which comprises Tina Kindeberg, Åsa Lindberg-Sand, Lotty Larson of Lund University and Lotta Antman from Blekinge University of Technology, Sweden, and Lynne Slonimsky, Wits and Vanessa Merckel from University of Johannesburg, South Africa

    This research seminar will be considering issues of Scholarship of Learning and Teaching in relation to the general concept of "Transformation" in relation t o higher education. Transformation has both similar and different meanings in different contexts, and the two prime contexts we will be considering are those of Swedish and South African higher education. A research project has been initiated which will explore these through the experience of university teachers in the two countries. The backgrounds to transformation, the intentions of the acts of transformation and the intended outcomes are to be considered, all in relation to the growing movement of SoTL.

    For the research project, an underlying interest is transformation as it impinges on student learning, but student learning has to be seen in different ways to address the overriding issues of transformation. "Learning what, and for what?" are the questions we will be addressing in this seminar.

    In South Africa, transformation is a central concept in the post-Apartheid movement. Reddy (2004) writes1:

    we can identify two discourses of social transformation. The contours of the first emphasises quantitative, procedural changes to the “HE system”, the need for the “system” to be efficiently regulated and co-ordinated by the state, be more responsive to the real challenges posed by globalisation by creating a skilled workforce for the so-called “knowledge society. The second nostalgically draws on the anti-Apartheid struggle for its bearings. It draws sustenance from the radical values popularised in the educational terrain of that struggle as a template against which to evaluate post-Apartheid developments and constantly reiterates the empowering quality of democratic society for those historically marginalised.

    Here is a tension that is hardly to be found in Sweden, which underwent its own social transformation in the first half of the last century. In 1998, the then minister for higher education, Carl Tham, wrote a speech for delivery at a UNESCO conference on Higher Education in the 21st century, Vision and Action, in which he stated2:

    Democracy, gender and racial equality, tuition-free higher education, the right to adult education, and close contact between education and research are the five foundations of Swedish higher education. The Swedish university, with its open educational system, is a natural part of our democratic system. It is based on:

    Since then there have been moves to make higher education more responsive to the world outside, adding “collaboration” to their educational and research roles, and to internationalisation, typified by the Bologna process to promote mobility which has occupied the foreground in the past five years.

    These, then, represent the official, state, political contexts within which transformation in systems and institutions of higher education are taking place. Our research questions refer to the constituency of the teachers in Higher Education and how they experience transformation and associated concepts, in the first place, turning then to the ways their scholarship impinges on student learning in on the one hand, and on the transformation of institutions and society on the other hand.

    1 Retrieved from http://www.che.ac.za/sites/default/files/publications/HEandSocialTransformationReport_25Feb2004.pdf 27 February 2008

    2 Retrieved from  http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001173/117301e.pdf 27 February 2008