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ISSN: 1818-9687

6.

17.

Higher Education Studies as a field of research SIOUX McKENNA

Towards salvaging the social sciences and humanities through indigenisation in South Africa TEBOHO J. LEBAKENG

44.

63.

Well-designed communities of practice (COPs) in the ODeL environment: students’ perspectives MARIA JAKOVLJEVIC, SHERYL BUCKLEY AND MELANIE BUSHNEY

From ‘Matie’ to citizen –graduate attributes as signature learning at Stellenbsoch University CECILIA JACOBS AND SONJA STRYDOM

Developing a framework for managing academic standards, quality and enhancement: addressing concerns and embedding good practice MELINDA DROWLEY AND HELEN MARSHALL

Practitioners’ Corner The appropriateness of curriculum content in promoting small business development MARIA M. BOUNDS AND GEOFF A. GOLDMAN

VOLUME 9 / 2014

83.

30.

Cultural factors as predictors of cognitive test performance in information systems and technology education PETER DENNY AND MANOJ MAHARAJ

75.

Fairness in using negative marking for assessing true/false questions FIROZA HAFFEJEE AND THOMAS E. SOMMERVILLE

96.

THE INDEPENDENT

Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning

The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning is a peer-reviewed journal that appears on the Department of Higher Education and Training’s list of South African accredited journals. The journal focuses on making a difference to educators at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. It publishes original contributions of interest to researchers and practitioners in the field of education. The following types of contribution will be considered for publication: • research-based empirical, reflective or synoptic articles that would be of interest to the educational practitioner • review articles that critically examine research carried out in a specific field • discussion or advocacy papers suitable for publication in the section entitled ‘Practitioners’ Corner’ • book reviews that comprise a clear and concise evaluation of recently published books.

Editor-in-Chief Professor Dolina Dowling BA; Dip Ed; Dip Sp Ed; APhS; MA; PhD. Managing Editor Marla Koonin BA Comm; BA Hons Journ (cum laude); MA Journ (cum laude); CPRP. Editorial Advisory Board Professor Carmel McNaught BSc (Hons); Dip Ed; MEd; PhD. Professor Andile Mji BSc; HDE; BEd; MEd; DEd. Professor Michael Glencross BSc; PGCE; BEd; BSc(Hons); MPhil; DPhil.

Disclaimer The publisher and the editor cannot be held responsible for any consequences arising from the use of information contained in this journal. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or the editor.

Dr Felicity Coughlan B SocSc Hons (SW); B SocSc Hons (Psych); MSc; DPhil. Publisher The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning is published by The Independent Institute of Education (Pty) Ltd. ADvTech House Inanda Greens Business Park 54 Wierda Road West Wierda Valley, Sandton South Africa www.iie.ac.za

The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning – Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning

Address for correspondence Professor Dolina Dowling Editor-in-Chief The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning PO Box 2369 Randburg 2125 South Africa E-mail: editor@iie.ac.za


Contents Volume 9

1. 4.

Notes on contributors

Editorial Dolina Dowling

6.

Higher Education Studies as a field of research Sioux McKenna

2014

63.

From ‘Matie’ to citizen – graduate attributes as signature learning at Stellenbsoch University Cecilia Jacobs and Sonja Strydom

75.

Fairness in using negative marking for assessing true/false questions Firoza Haffejee and Thomas E. Sommerville

17.

83.

30.

96.

Towards salvaging the social sciences and humanities through indigenisation in South Africa Teboho J. Lebakeng

Cultural factors as predictors of cognitive test performance in information systems and technology education Peter Denny and Manoj Maharaj

44.

Well-designed communities of practice (COPs) in the ODeL environment: students’ perspectives Maria Jakovljevic, Sheryl Buckley and Melanie Bushney

Developing a framework for managing academic standards, quality and enhancement: addressing concerns and embedding good practice Melinda Drowley and Helen Marshall

Practitioners’ Corner The appropriateness of curriculum content in promoting small business development Maria M. Bounds and Geoff A. Goldman

117. List of reviewers

The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


1 Notes on contributors

Dr Maria M. Bounds (University of Johannesburg) is a senior lecturer in the Department of Business Management. She holds a doctoral degree in Business Management, concentrating on small business development. She has presented several papers at national and international conferences. She has more than two decades of higher education experience and is the author of Business Management and Business Studies textbooks for grades 7 to 12. Professor Sheryl Buckley is Associate Professor in the School of Computing at the University of South Africa (UNISA). Her passion lies in the Information Sciences discipline. Other interests are e-learning, business intelligence and communities of practice. She is a committee member of a number of international and local organisations as well as an active peer reviewer. She has presented and published papers both nationally and internationally. Professor Melanie Bushney is Associate Professor in the Department of Human Resource Management (HRM) specialising in Human Resource Development (HRD) at the University of South Africa (UNISA). She has published articles in national and international journals and has presented papers at national and international conferences. Melanie was involved in six American Society for Training and Development benchmarking studies in South Africa. She was chair of the Departmental Research and Ethics Committee (2012-2013) and Head of Research (2009-2010) of the former HRD Universities Forum and Vice-Chairperson thereof. Melanie is a registered master practitioner with the South African Board for People Practices (SABPP). She evaluated, as a panel member, the HRM and Bachelor of Training and Development programmes of the Southern Business School and North West University respectively. Her 30 years of experience in higher education includes 11 years of distance education. Melanie is passionate about people development in South Africa. Dr Peter Denny has a PhD in Information Systems and Technology, an MBA from Henley Business School (University of Reading, UK) and a variety of IT industry certifications. His research over recent years has focused on social cognitive theory and, in particular, the role of self-efficacy as a catalyser for effective learning in the field of information systems and technology. Dr Denny has served in a variety of IT and education-related leadership roles over the past 15 years, including Head of Subject Department: IT (Independent Institute of Education, South Africa), General Manager (ACE Training, New Zealand, and Managing Director (IT Intellect, South Africa). Dr Denny has maintained his passion for developing people, and continues to find every excuse to lecture on a variety of IT and business subjects, supervise postgraduate IT and commerce students, and publish journal articles related to his area of specialist interest – maximising ROI in IT training.

The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


2 Dr Melinda Drowley is Head of Standards, Quality and Enhancement at the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), where she leads the team developing the UK Quality Code for Higher Education. Prior to joining the QAA three years ago she worked for more than 20 years in the UK higher education sector, mainly in senior management posts with significant responsibility for academic standards and quality. She also worked as a QAA auditor in the UK and internationally, and currently manages QAA reviews of universities and colleges. She is a Visiting Fellow at the University of South Wales and a Visiting Professor at the University of Salford. Professor Geoff A. Goldman is Associate Professor in the Department of Business Management at the University of Johannesburg where he lectures Research Methodology and History and Philosophy of Management. He is the coordinator of full research masters’ and doctoral programmes in the department. Professor Goldman has authored in excess of 70 conference papers, journal articles and books, mainly in the area of Strategic Management and Critical Management Studies. He is also editor of the management journal, Acta Commercii. Dr Firoza Haffejee holds a PhD (Maternal Health Medicine). She teaches Physiology and Epidemiology at the Durban University of Technology. She is involved in teaching the first and second year undergraduate curriculum and also mentors research students. Additionally, she serves on various university committees. Her research interests are in Maternal Health, HIV and Physiology Education. She has research collaborative links with academics from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Virginia Commonwealth University in the USA. She is also involved in community-based projects for the upliftment of under-developed communities. Professor Cecilia Jacobs is the Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of Stellenbosch. She holds a doctoral degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and was awarded an Associate Professorship by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology for her work in the area of teaching and learning. She is an NRF-rated researcher and her research interests are in disciplinary literacies and how disciplinary knowledge is communicated through discipline-specific language. Current research focuses on the teaching of disciplinary literacies within disciplinary domains and its implications for academic developers and disciplinary specialists in higher education. Previously she held the position of Teaching and Learning Coordinator in the Engineering Faculty at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Professor Maria Jakovljevic is currently Associate Professor at the School of Computing, College of Science, Engineering and Technology, UNISA. She specialises in Information Systems, Technology Education, Knowledge Management and Innovation. She teaches and researches in these areas. She is involved in international research initiatives and editorial activities. She obtained a Master of Education at the University of Pretoria. She holds a doctorate in Education from the University of Johannesburg. Dr Teboho J. Lebakeng obtained his doctorate degree from the University of Limpopo, South Africa; MA in Sociology from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; MS in Human Service Management at Springfield College, USA; and BA in Sociology from the American University in Cairo, Egypt. Dr Lebakeng came back to South Africa in 1994 after 18 years in exile, and worked as an independent consultant with non-profit organisations. Following a brief spell with Vista University in Soweto, he joined University of the North as a lecturer in Sociology. He has published numerous academic and popular articles in journals, newspapers and book chapters. Although currently with the South African Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, Dr Lebakeng continues to contribute scholarly and popular works, especially on the impact of epistemicide and valuecide on education in general and the social sciences and humanities in particular.

The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


3 Professor Manoj Maharaj (PhD) is currently Associate Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where he teaches information systems, specialising in information systems strategy and information security. Professor Maharaj has been employed at the university for the past 25 years. He has supervised numerous postgraduate students from throughout Africa, at the Masters, MBA, DBA and PhD levels. He has consulted widely in the IT industry and has presented many successful workshops on topics ranging from IT Auditing, IT Strategy, Information Security to Risk Management. Professor Helen Marshall is Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Salford where she leads on the academic development and student experience agendas. Prior to joining Salford in 2013, she was Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of South Wales where she held a similar role. Helen has worked for the QAA in the UK in a variety of roles, mainly in the field of academic audit, since 1997. Professor Sioux McKenna is the coordinator of a PhD programme in higher education studies in the Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning at Rhodes University. She has worked in academic development for 20 years and undertakes research into student writing, quality assurance and social justice in higher education. She manages a national course on postgraduate supervision development, funded by NUFFIC and the DHET, with Professor Chrissie Boughey as project director. This 30 credit course entails engagement with various forms and functions of supervision at masters and doctoral level. She also currently manages a large research project on the ways in which institutional differentiation affects teaching and learning. Professor Thomas Edward (Ted) Sommerville is an anaesthetist, with an initial degree in physiology and subsequent degrees in education. He teaches in primary school (alphabet, reading and writing), first year medicine (medical terminology), postgraduate anaesthesia (basic science), and staff development (small-group facilitation skills). He believes that learning and teaching should be student-centred and constructivist at all levels of education. His research interests are pain, curriculum development, pedagogy and assessment. He is an associate professor at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Clinical Medicine of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He enjoys discussing postgraduate students’ research interests, and being part of a cohort system of mentoring research students. His outside interests include bonsai cultivation, choral singing and cycling. Dr Sonja Strydom is a Blended Learning Advisor at the Centre for Learning Technologies at Stellenbosch University. She received a doctoral degree from the University of South Africa. She has extensive teaching experience both locally and abroad and worked previously as a Psychology lecturer and ILT advisor at Sir George Monoux College in London. Current research interests focus on academic and student digital literacies as critical enabler for technology-integrated learning, learning with mobile devices and the sustainable embedding of blended learning practices across faculties.

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4 Editorial Dolina Dowling

There can be no dispute that there have been a number of transformative changes in higher education worldwide over the past decades. These were influenced by a number of factors such as globalisation, internationalisation, marketisation, massfication, and quality assurance. Indeed the UNESCO 2009 World Conference Proceedings on Higher Education: Trends in Global Higher Education: Tracking the Academic Revolution states: ‘The academic changes of the late 20th and early 21st centuries are more extensive [than those in the 19th century] due to their global nature and the number of institutions and the number of people they affect’. These have altered the way that higher education institutions are viewed by governments and the public as well as the way institutions function and the pressures they face. Such changes not only have implications for the core functions of a higher education institution: teaching and learning, research and community engagement but they also affect the traditional notion of ‘a university’ and its role in society. This 9th volume of The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning is reflective of the many substantive changes discussed in the UNESCO document; such as massification and diversification leading to access with success, curriculum transformation, innovative teaching and learning practices that positively impact on academic standards, and quality assurance; all of which can be placed under the broad umbrella of transformation. The first article bears out the transformation that higher education is undergoing. The author presents a case study on a higher education research PhD programme at a South African university. She shows that higher education research is a rapidly growing area and due to the broad range of issues that is covered by higher education studies it fits into Bernstein’s notion of a ‘region’. The need for research into higher education studies is a result of both the transformation agenda set for higher education within South Africa that arose from the democratic elections in 1994 as well as the broader global trends within higher education. One transformation issue that needs to be urgently addressed is the indigenisation of the social sciences and humanities within the academy. Interestingly the natural sciences have made advances in this area so that references to, for example, ethnobotany, ethnomathematics, ethnomedicine, are now commonplace, whereas they were once areas of contestation. In the second article the author clearly shows, however, that the social sciences and humanities in African universities are still Eurocentric both in their way of being as well as in curriculum and research. The author makes a strong case for this to be changed so that African universities are of Africa and not just located within Africa.

The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


5 The next two articles deal with the broad issue of diversification although in different ways. This is a particularly burning issue in South Africa given the nation’s history. Diversification of the student body cannot only be addressed by massification but needs to be accompanied by access with success. In one article the authors’ study shows that the culture-based academic achievement gap in information systems and technology education that exists between Black students and their Indian and White counterparts could be ameliorated if appropriate measures are put in place to ensure an equitable learning context. In the next article the authors examine student perspectives with regards to communities of practice in an Open, Distance and eLearning environment. If successful communities of practice can be established this would lead to an enhanced learning environment for students, which would make a contribution to success. How to ensure academic standards within teaching and learning programmes is a matter of concern to key stakeholders and is also high on the agenda of quality assurance agencies. The attainment of graduate attributes as specified by programme offerings, the need for assessment that is fair and equitable, and the need for a framework to manage academic standards within a higher education institution, are issues dealt with in the next three articles. In the first of these, the authors address the issue of graduate attributes. Their case study shows that graduate attributes are unlikely to be attained if offered through a co-curriculum instead of being integrated within the mainstream curriculum. The issue of graduate attributes being generic rather than programme specific is an issue that also needs further attention. In order to ensure the attainment of academic standards and within this the need for fairness and equity in assessment, the authors in the next article deal with assessment practices in multiple choice questions. Their study shows that there are discrepancies in marks awarded when two different ways of negative marking for true/false questions are used for the same scripts. This is a matter of concern for all higher education institutions using negative marking. The third article in this cluster uses British, Bahraini and Omani quality assurance reports to highlight the gaps that have been identified by quality assurance agencies in the management of academic standards. The authors show that despite the disparity in cultures, countries, and the different maturity levels of higher education systems, institutions often grapple with the same issues. This is of interest to South African higher education. The authors propose a framework that could be used by higher education institutions to ensure that academic standards are attained. In Practitioners’ Corner the authors are concerned with curriculum content within small business modules. Given the high unemployment rates within South Africa and the concomitant need for entrepreneurship, small business development is a priority for government. However irrespective of having a good business idea and the identified market need for such a business, it can be very difficult for an entrepreneur to start and sustain a successful business. The authors seek to address this by researching the specific skills and knowledge that small business owners themselves identify as being important for success. A number of recommendations are made with regard to course content in small business development modules. However, these measures if implemented are not by themselves sufficient, there needs to be a culture that supports entrepreneurship through investment and reducing barriers to entry.

The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


6 Higher Education Studies as a Field of Research1 Sioux McKenna - Rhodes University, South Africa

ABSTRACT The field of Higher Education Studies is a rapidly growing one in South Africa and abroad but there has been little systematic review of the form this growth is taking. This article presents a case study of higher education research by considering a newly formed Higher Education Studies doctoral programme. The programme comprises 29 PhD scholars in 2014, all engaged in research on some aspect of higher education. The description of the PhD programme, the PhD scholars and what their research topics are, reveals a picture of the broad range of concerns within the field of Higher Education Studies and suggests that the field is a region, in Bernstein’s terms. This means that it draws on multiple disciplines and looks both to the values and structures of those disciplines and to the professional world of work. It is argued that the strengthening of the epistemological base of Higher Education Studies is necessary for higher education research to move forwards with enhanced relational and positional autonomy.1

INTRODUCTION In January 2010, Rhodes University launched a PhD programme in Higher Education Studies in the Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning (CHERTL). The programme grew by word of mouth at a rapid rate. In 2014 there are 29 registered scholars, with 10 PhD scholars having graduated in the first four years of the programme. The programme came about for two main reasons. Firstly, the Dean of Teaching and Learning had completed supervision of 10 PhDs related to higher education and constantly received more requests. She believed that the development of a community of scholars engaged in the field would be beneficial. The design of the programme was thus primarily to provide peer-group support in ways that work against the ‘lonely space’ of the PhD journey (Harrison, 2009: 175). The second reason for the development of the programme was the idea that there was a need for more systematic, rigorous higher education research in South Africa. In the context of increased efficiency demands on universities and multiple purposes emerging for higher education from an ever-growing range of stakeholders, it is perhaps unsurprising that higher education has emerged as a field of study. In South Africa, higher education is frequently constructed as having a particularly key role to play in the economic development and social transformation of the country. Given these various demands on the sector, there is undoubtedly a need for a ‘theoretically sophisticated, empirically applicable approach’ (Maton, 2005: 688) to self-reflection, as would be expected in a doctoral programme. 1 Date of submission 11 February 2014 Date of acceptance 14 April 2014

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7 Keisler (1990: 66) argued through an analysis of 10 Higher Education Studies journals that the field (as reflected by its publications) failed to constitute ‘a self-sufficient body’. Tight (2004) suggests that the increased interest in higher education as a field of research is because of massification and the fact that higher education is now ‘big business’ but his analysis of 406 Higher Education Studies articles found that 58% were ‘wholly a-theoretical’. Tight concludes that ‘there is a need for more theoretical engagement so that the field … can develop further, and gain more credibility and respect’ (2004: 409). In a more recent analysis of publications in the field, Tight concluded that while higher education research is ‘healthy and growing… it lacks a strong or disciplinary identity’ (2014: 93). The desire to strengthen the field of Higher Education Studies, such as through the PhD programme reported on in this case study, can thus be seen to have general echoes beyond its South African context.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS This article draws on various data sources to map out the field of Higher Education Studies as evidenced in a case study of a doctoral programme. The demographics of the current student body and an overview of their topics and their theoretical frameworks emerge from an analysis of their research proposals. The programmes and scholar evaluations of 12 Doctoral Seminar Weeks from 2010 to 2013 were also collected and analysed. This data was analysed to find out where the field of Higher Education Studies is focused and what its concerns are. It is a clear limitation of this study that the data comes from one doctoral programme only, given that Higher Education Studies can be said to be undertaken both within such new and increasingly common formal postgraduate programmes, and also by academics across the sector. However, given that it is a characteristic of the doctorate that it needs to be of a quality that satisfies peer review and merits publication (DHET, 2013), this is a useful sample by which to get an insight into and overview of this rapidly growing field.

WHAT IS THE PROGRAMME? In South Africa, the doctorate is by full thesis (DHET, 2013).2 The programme structures reported on here are thus about supporting the development of the research design, implementation of the research and writing of the dissertation rather than about accumulating credits. These supporting structures include three week-long meetings a year, known as Doctoral Weeks, which include guest seminars, debates, panel discussions, scholar presentations, workshops, etc. There is also an online classroom where readings and topical news reports are shared, questions are asked and support is provided. Critical readers, online meetings and other structures augment traditional supervision relationships. Participation in these structures is voluntary. The attendance of between 25 and 30 people at the 12 Doctoral Weeks offered thus far, despite the financial implications of travelling long distances and taking leave from work, indicates that scholars find the support useful. The evaluations of the Doctoral Weeks provide further support for this claim: Every Doc week leaves me feeling motivated and also challenged about having to work harder and think deeper. I love Doc weeks. I often find the discussions difficult but then I know this is what is expected of me on the PhD journey. 2 The revised Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework (DHET, 2013) includes a professional doctorate that allows for some coursework credits but this has not been implemented in any institution at the time of writing this article.

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8

I love having others who are in the same boat to talk to.

CHERTL PhD Weeks are a privilege as we have a jam-packed week of the top speakers from across South Africa and even further afield. I have been exposed to discussions during these weeks that are not related to my topic but that have made me think about issues related to higher education and have made me more aware of how to develop academic arguments and understand the main debates that face the sector. Having provided the briefest of descriptions of the programme structure, the article now turns to consider who these scholars are as an indication of who participates in Higher Education Studies as a research field.

WHO ARE THE PHD SCHOLARS? At undergraduate level, South Africa has made enormous progress in gender representation but at doctoral level only 42% of graduates are women (ASSAf, 2010). From this perspective, the field of Higher Education Studies is doing very well indeed: 23 out of 29 of the PhD scholars are female. Most of the registered scholars (28 of the current 29) are studying part-time while holding down full-time jobs. This hinders the extent to which they can focus on their research but given that their average age is 45 years old, it is unsurprising that few can afford at this stage in their lives to be full-time students. The age of the scholars adds enormously to the life experience the programme can call upon but extends the number of years the scholars take to complete and also limits their access to funding, most of which is only available to full-time students. Higher Education Studies, it seems, is not yet well enough established as a field to attract younger scholars who would be more likely to undertake full-time study. Nine of the 29 currently registered scholars work in Academic Development (AD).3 It was not unexpected that these people would wish to undertake a PhD in Higher Education Studies because much of the existing research in Higher Education Studies has been done by AD practitioners and this particular doctoral programme is housed within CHERTL, the AD centre at Rhodes University. Five of the scholars work in institutional Quality Assurance (QA) units. QA has grown rapidly in South Africa as elsewhere and most universities have set up structures from which to oversee QA processes, such as programme reviews, institutional audits and programme accreditation. Given the widely expressed concerns that QA processes can be technicist and managerial and often arise from neoliberal understandings of the university (Boyer, 2010; Clegg, 2009a; Shore, 2010), the participation of QA managers in this programme is most positive. The potential impact that their doctoral work can have on ensuring rigour in the QA field is enormous as it must be at the ‘most advanced academic levels’ (DHET, 2013). Nine of the scholars come from across a wide variety of mainstream academic departments and bring with them knowledge of their particular disciplines along with a general interest in and experience of higher education practice. One scholar holds a high-level management position in his university and the remaining five work in research institutes and higher education related organisations.

3 Academic Development is often referred to in the literature as Educational Development (Clegg, 2009a: 403). In South Africa, Academic Development work includes both staff development and student development work of various kinds.

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9 This diversity of workplace seems to be a benefit to the programme as the following verbatim comments from evaluations testify: It is great that the Doc Weeks bring together scholars from all kinds of universities as we have very different experiences. I wish that I had studied Sociology because most of the theories we use are sociological. I feel like I am catching up on gaps in my education and I’m glad that there’s others in the group to help me. Not everyone comes from an advantaged university or from a traditional university or from South Africa. I think this helps to challenge those in the group who think their experience is the same as everyone else’s.

WHAT ARE THEIR TOPICS? Significant work has been done to plot the scope of academic development research (for example by Boughey, 2007, 2009; Clegg, 2009a, 2009b; Scott, 2009; Shay, 2012) and the importance of academic development to Higher Education Studies is undeniable not least because ‘the discourse of academic development has shaped the ways those in the [higher education] sector think about teaching’ (Clegg, 2009a: 403). But the naming of this PhD programme as being in ‘Higher Education Studies’ indicates it to be broader than ‘academic development’. The 29 PhD topics in this study could be categorised in a number of different ways and the complexity of doctoral level study means that a single thesis typically addresses a number of different issues; the table below is thus partial and somewhat reductive. The table uses five categories and various sub-categories to group the topics being researched by the scholars. Table 1: Categories and sub-categories of research topic by scholar Category Pedagogy (Total 7)

Curriculum (Total 13)

Quality Assurance (Total 3)

Sub-Category Pedagogy – Teaching and Learning Practice

4

ICT and Educational Technology

2

Postgraduate supervision

1

Structure of knowledge and knowers in different disciplines and programmes

9

Entrance assessment

1

Graduate Attributes

1

Selection of content and issues of colonialism

1

Values and Ethics

1

Internal Systems

2

External Systems

1

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No. of students


10 Category Sector level (Total 5)

Staff development (Total 1)

Sub-Category

No. of students

Managerialism

2

Globalisation and Internationalisation

1

National policy implementation

1

Private higher education sector

1

New staff induction

1

Shay (2012: 313) tells us that for academic development the ‘shared project is the improvement of the quality and status of teaching in order to improve the quality of students’ experience of learning.’ And some of the PhD scholars in this programme are indeed investigating access and retention, curriculum and pedagogy and other topics that have been at the heart of academic development. Seven of the scholars have topics that have an explicit classroom practice focus. They are looking at what happens at a fairly micro-level of pedagogy with topics such as the role tutorials do or do not play in providing access to target epistemologies, the different approaches to postgraduate supervision or how the language of instruction policy plays out in the enacted curriculum. Thirteen scholars could be broadly categorised as undertaking curriculum studies. They are looking at the development of open distance learning programmes, changes in teacher education curricula, the extent to which content is Eurocentric and so on. The majority of the studies categorised as curriculum studies are part of a National Research Foundation (NRF) funded project about social inclusion and exclusion in higher education, with a special concern for the role of the structure of knowledge. These studies use a shared ontological framework (Critical Realist4) and a shared theoretical framework (Legitimation Code Theory5) but then apply these to a range of disciplines across a total of 17 institutions. The pedagogy and curriculum topics may well be characterised as having a greater or lesser focus on professional practice in the form of a concern with teaching and learning practices or even curriculum in the broader, theoretical sense of programme design and knowledge. But five of the scholars have explicitly meta-level concerns with topics such as managerialism in higher education, the university in a neo-liberal era, the implications of New Public Management for the university sector, the impact of the World Bank’s structural adjustment programme on universities in Africa and the internationalisation of education. These latter topics are indicative that the field of Higher Education Studies goes beyond the interests of academic development to include all aspects of higher education. This brief analysis of topics in one PhD programme evidences the great variance as to what constitutes a suitable ‘research problem’ in Higher Education Studies. Even the ontological status of the scholars’ topics can vary; the units of analysis in the studies range from students’ perceptions of exclusion through to structural systems of funding, with a myriad in between. Similarly, the data collection methods in these studies range from the historical and policy document analysis, classroom observations, interviews with students and so on. The range of the scholars’ topics and approaches echoes the comment by

4 Critical Realism is ontologically realist in that it argues that there are real mechanisms and structures in the world, separate from human knowledge of them, however it is epistemologically relativist as it understands knowledge of the world as being fallible and partial. It has been developed by Bhaskar, Archer and others. 5 Legitimation Code Theory is a framework developed by Maton, drawing on the work of Bernstein and Bourdieu, which is used to analyse social and cultural practices across an increasingly broad range of contexts.

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11 Tight (2004: 407) that the field of Higher Education Studies ‘exemplifies the sheer variety of theoretical perspectives available and in use’. As the investigations by current scholars in the programme call on a range of disciplines and fields such as Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Economics and Education for their research topics and theoretical frames, it has been necessary for the programme to access supervisory expertise from across a number of faculties and even institutions. Haggis (2009) in her review of higher education publications suggests that there is a lag between disciplinary knowledge and its re-theorisation into higher education research. This may contribute to the need for supervisors from across disciplines that can introduce the most current thinking to the programme. This combining of disciplines within one programme suggests that Higher Education Studies might comprise what Bernstein refers to as ‘a region’ (2000). This has a number of implications for the field.

HIGHER EDUCATION STUDIES AS A REGION Regions, in Bernstein’s explanation, are a grouping of disciplines in a field. Furthermore these disciplines are recontextualised to operate both within the intellectual fields of the constitutive disciplines and in the field of external practice (Bernstein 2000: 52). Higher Education Studies, as a field illustrated by the PhD programme discussed in this article, meets this definition. It draws on multiple disciplines and it faces the world of work, which in this case is the university itself and the practices within it. Regions can at times be characterised as ‘diffuse, fluid and less organised’ and send out ‘ambiguous, contradictory signals’ (Muller 2009: 214). Muller (2009: 213) clarifies that regions form around a purpose, which might be an intellectual imperative but is more commonly to support a sphere of professional practice. Muller argues that regions are often ‘strong on practice-oriented “know-how” necessary for professional tasks, but without a disciplinary core, the knowledge base will be weak on “know-why”’ (2009: 214). As the brief overview of topics above illustrates, the extent of focus on professional practice in this programme varies considerably. While the focus on professional practice is strong in some of the topics selected by the PhD scholars, particularly those related to pedagogy, the studies categorised as ‘sector level’ are not directly related to professional practice. And those studies with a focus on curricula are more concerned with developing an understanding of how knowledge and knower structures privilege particular groups of learners, rather than making direct recommendations to improve professional practice. Regions are seen to threaten the pedagogic cultures of the constitutive disciplines and often raise issues of legitimacy (Bernstein, 2000: 52). Maton (2014) argues that disciplines are legitimated through their recognition of particular knowledge structures and through valuing particular knower structures; but regions by their nature draw on multiple disciplines, each with their own legitimation principles. It is therefore not unusual for regions to be spaces of contention because various disciplines’ languages of legitimation (Maton, 2010) jostle for recognition and the tensions between the world of practice and the intellectual endeavour are felt. Developing the strength of a region requires strengthening its disciplinary foundation (Muller, 2009). However, this is not a simple matter of demanding high levels of conceptual and theoretical engagement in the field of Higher Education Studies. Striving to develop Higher Education Studies as a region through strengthening its epistemological base has the undesirable potential to narrow the set of practices available to higher education scholars. Clegg (2009b: 60) suggests, in a discussion about academic development, that in developing themselves into a new region, academic development may well have adopted an identity and a set of discourses that ‘denies other ways of understanding and thinking. Indeed this is what new regional practices do’.

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12 Knowledge structures can simultaneously build depth and rigour in a research area and also exclude those who have not acquired such structures (and the requisite language of legitimation). Such acquisitions are typically through an apprenticeship of undergraduate and lower postgraduate degrees. However, in line with Harland’s assumption about who studies higher education, most of the scholars in this programme ‘have been educated first in another field or discipline’ (2009: 579). That most of the scholars come to Higher Education Studies PhDs without previous Higher Education Studies qualifications or even a track record of research in this area is both a testimony to the field’s inclusiveness and a potential concern that this might ‘devalue the enterprise’ (Harland, 2009: 580) by perpetuating the idea that Higher Education Studies has no theoretical base. Since the scholars in this Higher Education Studies PhD programme are mainly staff members of one or another university,6 they are ‘insider-outsiders’ (Harrison, McKenna & Searle, 2010: 177) in that they are studying aspects of a system to which they already belong. They are ‘half in’ as they bring a wealth of experiential knowledge about higher education but they are also ‘half out’ in that they are novice researchers who typically have no previous qualifications in the area of Higher Education Studies. Harland argues that in trying to be inclusive, Higher Education Studies has ‘undermined its own disciplinary basis’ (Harland, 2009: 582). However, Rowland (2009) disagrees with Harland that the lack of epistemological precision in Higher Education Studies is peculiar to this field and argues that many university departments cannot be easily ascribed to a discipline and are multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary (2009: 583). The tension between inclusivity and the kind of deep theorising which can move the region forward is acknowledged by Rowland (2009: 584) who says that when Higher Education Studies researchers ‘represent their ideas in ways which are readily accessible to others from any disciplinary base [they] may risk over simplification and lack of subtlety. Alternatively they may draw freely upon the insights of their own discipline, and risk not being understood by those who lack familiarity with their discipline’s ideas and ways of representing them.’

AXIOLOGICAL VERSUS EPISTEMOLOGICAL CHARGES Shay (2012) draws on Legitimation Code Theory’s characterisation of intellectual fields to describe the practice of academic development. I believe this is a useful language for characterising the field of Higher Education Studies too. Martin, Maton & Matruglio (2010) describe fields as being predominantly axiologically-charged, where the emphasis is on moral, ethical and ideological concerns, or mostly epistemologically-charged, where the emphasis is on the explanatory power of knowledge. Maton (2014) indicates that while all regions have both epistemological and axiological charges, the dominant charge determines which kinds of theories and research approaches are taken up and which are discredited or ignored. The Higher Education Studies PhD programme feels the tensions between these charges and attempts to address the two can be found by looking at the content of the Doc Week programmes. An analysis of the 12 Doctoral Week programmes indicates a mix of axiological and epistemological charges. Guest seminars on the topics of social justice, the university as a public good, grappling with privilege, developing voice are all examples of an axiological charge underpinning the programme; as, possibly, was the use of Nussbaum’s Cultivating Humanity as the class reader for 2011. But the guest seminars on ontological positioning, critical realism, social realism, knowledge structures, and Legitimation Code Theory arguably reflect an epistemological charge. The desire to develop a programme that can not only add to a body of knowledge in Higher Education Studies but also develop critical academics who

6 The only exceptions are that five of the scholars work in research institutes and one is a full-time student but is on leave from a position in a university.

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13 can contribute meaningfully to a sector suffering severe capacity shortages and many vexing problems is a complex one. Some of the axiological charge can be traced to the origins of this particular programme. The Higher Education Studies PhD Programme emerged out of an Environment and Sustainability Education Doctoral programme at Rhodes University that was developed to cultivate a scholarly community of practice and which a few early Higher Education Studies PhD candidates had been attending in the absence of a programme specifically focused on their own field. The Environmental Education programme was started because, in the words of that programme’s coordinators, ‘the socio-ecological condition of late modernity, currently characterised by fragmentation, individualisation, risk, overconsumption and greed …requires an intellectual community that is orientated towards public good and prepared to put people first, before profit and pollution’ (Lotz-Sisitka, Ellery, Olvitt, Schudel & O’Donoghue, 2010: 131). These concerns are still evident in the Higher Education Studies programme. This balance between the axiological charge and the epistemological charge is probably best understood by looking at the funded project entitled ‘Social Inclusion in Higher Education’ being undertaken within the PhD programme. Ten of the PhD scholars in the programme are attached to this NRF funded project that looks at the ways in which knowledge structures serve to include or exclude students.7 The programme draws on the work of Bernstein, Bourdieu and Legitimation Code Theory ‘to understand the norms, values and structures of different kinds of knowledge and knowers and to ask questions about how students come to acquire such knowledges and become such knowers’ (Boughey & McKenna, 2010). Each of the scholars within the project is asking the same research question: How do disciplinary knowledge structures and knower structures and their associated practices serve to include or exclude students? Each scholar asks this question of a different discipline and within or across different institutions and they call upon a range of substantive theories beyond the shared conceptual framework. A strong epistemological charge thus frames the project but the rationale is explicitly within the context of low retention and high student failure, which is an axiological concern. The Social Inclusion project is an example of the development of epistemological strength in service of an axiological agenda.

STRENGTHENING THE EPISTEMOLOGICAL CHARGE While the programme as a whole remains committed to an axiological agenda of social justice, it has the aim of strengthening the epistemological base of higher education research. Shay (2012) recognises that many programmes in Higher Education Studies at lower levels (Postgraduate Diplomas in Higher Education and accredited staff development short courses, etc.) are largely along the lines of ‘principles of good practice’ and argues that there is a place for this. However, she goes on to point out that this is ‘not the kind of knowledge which constitutes a professional field’. Vorster & Quinn (2012) make similar arguments in their call for better-theorised work from the early levels of Higher Education Studies programmes. It can be argued that much of the research being undertaken by the scholars in this PhD programme focuses on developing more rigorous theoretical accounts and this, perhaps, begins to address Clegg’s concern that much higher education research has been ‘too cautious and self-referential in the questions it asks of higher education and its own practices’ (2009a: 413). Similarly, Scott (2009) argues that our craft knowledge approaches to solving the major problems facing higher education are insufficient, what is called for is systematic knowledge.

7 In the earlier table, nine of these studies were classified as ‘Curriculum’ and one was classified as ‘Staff Development’.

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14 The need for a strong epistemological charge in Higher Education Studies can probably best be understood by referring to another concept in Legitimation Code Theory: ‘autonomy’. Positional autonomy refers to the relationship between positions within a field and positions in other contexts. If the key agents in the field of Higher Education Studies come from industry or politics, Maton explains (2005), the positional autonomy of the field is weak. If the key agents come from within higher education itself, then the positional autonomy of the field is strong. Developing strong competence in the scholars within the programme, some of whom hold key positions within their universities, has the potential to increase the future positional autonomy of Higher Education Studies. Relational autonomy refers to the extent to which the principles within a field – the ‘practices, aims, measures of achievement, etc.’ (Maton, 2005: 697) - come from its own contexts or are imported from other contexts. Where higher education’s measures arise from other fields (for example through the adoption of business values to evaluate higher education), the relational autonomy is weak. But ‘where the field’s principles of hierachization look inwards to its specific activities…it exhibits stronger relational autonomy’ (Maton, 2005: 697). In an era of corporatisation of universities and the increased role of the state and industry in the academy (Badat, 1998; Boughey, 2009), the field of Higher Education Studies will need to strengthen its ability to look inwards for its principles of hierarchy. This strengthening of the epistemological base could thus be seen as an endeavour to increase both forms of autonomy in Higher Education Studies: relational and positional autonomy. The PhD programme might play some small role of increasing the positional autonomy of Higher Education Studies, through the development of credible scholars who can take up key positions in the field, while also enhancing the relational autonomy of the field by driving an agenda of the university as a public good with a transformative role to play in post-apartheid South Africa.

CONCLUSION A single case study of a programme designed around a formal qualification is limited in the degree to which it can be used to understand a field as a whole. However, this snapshot look at a PhD programme in Higher Education Studies, and the scholars and their topics within it, does suggest that this field is a region, having to adhere to multiple disciplinary norms and navigate the contestations between these, while also looking outwards to the practices of the profession. The scholars come to the field at a later age and undertake their studies without a strong background in higher education research. This is both an indication of the field’s broad interests and inclusive nature and also a cause for concern in terms of epistemological depth. In the case of this programme there is evidence of an epistemological base being developed through a strong theoretical focus, but this is being explicitly undertaken to the benefit of the axiological project, which is one of social justice.

REFERENCES ASSAf (Academy of Science of South Africa) (2010) The PhD Study: A consensus report. Pretoria, South Africa. Badat, S. (1998) ‘Globalisation and South African Higher Education’ Paper presented at the CHET and the Human Sciences Research Council seminar. Pretoria, South Africa. July. Bernstein, B. (2000) Pedagogy, symbolic control, and identity: theory, research, critique. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield. Boughey, C. (2007) ‘Marrying equity and efficiency: The need for Third Generation Academic Development’ Perspectives in Education 25(3) pp.1-11.

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15 Boughey, C. (2009) Academic Development for Improved Efficiency in the Higher Education and Training System in South Africa. Commissioned report for the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa. Boughey, C. & McKenna, S. (2010) Social Inclusion in Higher Education. Unpublished funding proposal to the National Research Foundation. Pretoria, South Africa. Boyer, D. (2010) ‘What is driving university reform in the age of globalization?’ Social Anthropology/ Anthropologie Sociale18(1) pp.74-82. Clegg, S. (2009a) ‘Forms of knowing and academic development practice’ Studies in Higher Education 34(4) pp.403-416. Clegg, S. (2009b) ‘Histories and institutional change: understanding academic development practices in the global “north” and “south”’ International Studies in Sociology of Education 19(1) pp.53-65. DHET (Department of Higher Education and Training) (2013) Higher Education Qualifications SubFramework. Pretoria: Government Gazette. 2 August. Haggis, T. (2009) ‘Student learning research: A broader view’ In M. Tight, K.H. Mok, J. Huisman and C. Morphew (Eds.) The Routledge international handbook of higher education. New York: Routledge. Harland, T. (2009) ‘People who study higher education’ Teaching in higher education 14(5) pp.579-582. Harrison, L., McKenna, S. & Searle, R. (2010) ‘I won’t be squeezed into someone else’s frame: Stories of supervisor selection’ Acta Academica 1 pp.175-200. Harrison, L. (2009) Developing a Doctoral Identity - A narrative study in an autoethnographic frame. Unpublished PhD thesis. University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Keisler, S.D. (1990) ‘Higher Education as a field of study: The leading journals’ Serials Review 16(1) pp.59-63. Lotz-Sisitka, H., Ellery, K., Olvitt L., Schudel, I. & O’Donoghue, R. (2010) ‘Cultivating a scholarly community of practice’ Acta Academica 1 pp.130-150. Maton, K. (2014) Knowledge and Knowers: Towards a realist sociology of education. London: Routledge. Maton, K. (2010) ‘Analysing knowledge claims and practices: Languages of legitimation’ In K. Maton & R. Moores (Eds.) Social Realism, Knowledge and the Sociology of Education: Coalitions of the mind. London: Continuum. Maton, K. (2005) ‘A question of autonomy: Bourdieu’s field approach and higher education policy’ Journal of Education Policy 20(6) pp.687-704. Martin, J., Maton, K. & Matruglio, E. (2010) ‘Historical cosmologies: Epistemology and axiology in Australian secondary school history discourse’ Revista Signos 43(74) pp.433-463.

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16 Muller, J. (2009) ‘Forms of knowledge and curriculum coherence’ Journal of Education and Work 22(3) pp.205–226. Nussbaum, M.C. (1997) Cultivating Harmony: A classical defense of reform in liberal education. Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press. Rowland, S. (2009) ‘A sense of audience in response to Tony Harland’ Teaching in Higher Education 14(5) pp.583-585. Scott, I. (2009) ‘Academic development in South African higher education’ In E. Bitzer (Ed.) Higher education in South Africa: A scholarly look behind the scenes. Stellenbosch: Sun MeDIA pp.21-47. Shay, S. (2012) Educational development as a field: are we there yet? Higher Education Research and Development 31(3) pp.311-323. Shore, C. (2010) ‘Beyond the multiversity: neoliberalism and the rise of the schizophrenic university’ Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale 18(1) pp.15-29. Tight, M. (2004) ‘Research into higher education: an a-theoretical community of practice’ Higher Education Research and Development 24(4) pp.395-411. Tight, M. (2014) ‘Discipline and theory in higher education research’ Research Papers in Education 29(1) pp.93-110. Vorster, J. & Quinn, L. (2012) ‘Theorising the pedagogy of a formal programme for university lecturers’ In L. Quinn (Ed.) Re-imagining academic development. Stellenbosch: Sun MeDIA pp.51-70.

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17 Towards salvaging the social sciences and humanities through indigenisation in South Africa1 Teboho J. Lebakeng - South African Permanent Mission to the United Nations, New York, USA

ABSTRACT This essay advances the thesis that given the history and role of the social sciences and humanities in the colonisation of Africa in general and South Africa as a specific case, the only way in which such disciplines can be salvaged from their crises so that they can thrive and add value is through their indigenisation. Following the independence of many African countries not much changed in the orientation of the academy in Africa as a result the social sciences and humanities still suffer from the coloniality of knowledge. In this respect, there is a need to recognise the historical, institutional and normative baggage of the disciplines so as to explore their appropriation, localisation and grounding in an emancipatory and transformative agenda. The West has made the particular the universal and that is the intellectual project which African intellectuals have been deconstructing.1

THE SOCIAL SCIENCES AND THE COLONIAL ENCOUNTER That colonialism marked a turning point in the social, cultural, economic, and political fortunes of Africa (Magubane, 1986) is no longer in dispute given the mounting evidence to that effect. In this regard, the impact of colonialism on Africa has been critically dissected, interrogated and unpacked by a range of thinkers and theorists. Among these could be included Fanon in Black Skin, White Masks (Fanon, 1970) and The Wretched of the Earth (Fanon, 1968); Memmi (1963) in his Coloniser and Colonised and Rodney (1972) in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Other scholars such as Ngugi (1986) focused specifically on the problems of colonisation of the African minds, while others such as Ake (1982) revealed how social science itself constituted a form of imperialism and Mafeje (1976) looked at how the disciplines entrenched capitalist modes. Read together, these writings poignantly point to what Williams describes as the destruction of Black civilisation (Williams, 1971) in light of the comparison of the political and social systems of Europe and Africa from antiquity to the formation of modern states (Diop, 1988). Their combined deconstruction of colonialism has settled the colonial legacy as negative and destructive to Africa. What can be distilled from these illustrative materials and historical accounts is that the social sciences and humanities were deeply implicated in the colonisation of Africa and the Africans. Moreover, these accounts unpack the reality that the colonial encounter, penetration and rule relied not only on the military

1 Date of Submission 28 February 2014 Date of Acceptance 5 May 2014

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18 and economic power of conquering nations, but also on domination over forms of cultural representation and misrepresentation. The Europeans embarked upon what Frantz Fanon (1968) called ‘the enterprise of deculturation’. They condemned Africa to insuperable and incorrigible backwardness by proclaiming that the West was the best and Africa and the rest were the worst. They fostered a brainwashed acceptance of the role of Africans as inferior and sub-humans with their reference point as the West being the primary centre or mover of history and theory. Western historiography was fundamentally tendentious precisely to justify the dehumanisation of Africans. Thus colonisation broadly was a form of dehumanisation (Cesaire, 2000) and its logic was the systematic negation of the humanity of Africans. Pursuant to the colonial project, the altruistically coined ‘civilising mission’ was used as an effective but unethical and perverted narrative for indoctrination. After all, colonisers did all evil in the name of chosen people. According to Mudimbe, missionaries were, through all the ‘new worlds’ part of the political process of creating and extending the putative right of European sovereignty over ‘newly discovered’ lands (Mudimbe, 1988). However, this was accomplished by completely uncivilised methods (Fanon, 1968; Rodney, 1972). This was unmistakable in the attitude of the early missionaries towards indigenous institutions and indigenous knowledge systems. The contemptuous ethnocentrism and racism displayed by Christian missionaries had as the main objective supplanting African peoples’ sensibilities. As such, education did not organically connect Africans with their environment or advance their mastery of the ecosystem for sustainable livelihood and self-knowledge. On the contrary, it alienated them from their environment broadly speaking. Learning was not understood as a process of harnessing the inner potential, whose imperative is to equip the recipients with an awareness of their identity and environment (Lebakeng, 2004). In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire suggests that allowing students or individuals to have ownership of their knowledge is equivalent to respecting their culture, traditions and identity (Freire, 1996). Missionaries perceived deculturation of Africans as a divine assignment and were ready to risk death for it. Groves (1969: 488) provides a characterisation of the role of missionaries and an insight into their inspiration thus: The early missionaries came as censors of the Africans and in preaching their ideals the emissaries of the gospel were usually fortified by the unquestioning belief not only in their righteousness but also in the depravity of indigenous African institutions. They were pulled by the lure of civilising the ‘savage mind.’ Projecting the African savage mind meant that Africans were expunged from history, philosophy and literature hence the deliberate silence on their historical contributions to world civilisation. That was part of negating and denying the humanity of Africans as they were supposed not to have expressed any thought or made any intellectual and philosophical pronouncements. As such, nothing from Africans was worth noting, knowing and celebrating as Africans were considered affective rather than effective, passionate and lacking in basic rationality (Ramose, 1999). In his edited seminal volume Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter (1973), Talal Asad argues that anthropology was deeply embedded in the colonial system. However, it is noteworthy that despite the naming, blaming and shaming of anthropology such strictures levelled against the discipline do not exonerate other social sciences and humanities as they are also implicated in the colonial project (Mafeje, 1976). In fact, many examples of how the social sciences and humanities from history, literature, education, social work, religious studies, psychology, sociology to political sciences, assisted in the colonial penetration of Africa and subsequent consolidation straddles such disciplines (see Mafeje, 1976; The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


19 Rex, 1981; Ake, 1982). In South Africa education perpetuated and reinforced patterns of socio-economic and ethno-cultural differences and falsified history (Hoerner, 1977; Corvenin, 1980). The social sciences and humanities, as constituted are, to a large extent, products of the European Enlightenment. These disciplines were brought to Africa through the encounter with the West and since then Africans have internalised many of the European theories and paradigms in their work (Sall, 2013). Although they trace their roots from the engagement with issues around Western Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and modernity, they were imposed as part of the colonial project to facilitate the conquest of Africa. They were embedded in rationalism – which presupposes that the basic laws of history can be known with certainty and that this knowledge can help bring about freedom and justice anywhere in the world. Therein lies the teleological and almost unilineal conceptions of world and human development. This core tenet of the disciplines informed their approach to Africa as a continent that needed to follow the route taken by the West. As such, these disciplines carry a great deal of epistemological, theoretical, methodological, cognitive and historical baggage based on their origins and the key concerns and intellectual project of their founders. Precisely because they paraded structural-functionalism and behaviouralism as universal theories, they lacked symbols for deciphering local history as seen in the indices they employed in studying colonial Africa (Magubane, 1971). Following the independence of many African countries not much changed in the orientation of the academy in Africa. Academic mimetism of Eurocentrism, which translates into the marginalisation of indigenous knowledge systems and valorisation of Western knowledge and epistemologies remains commonplace. This is a function of the failure to cut the intellectual umbilical cord from the western epistemological paradigm. As such, the disciplines are still condemned to paradigmatic dependency and African students continue to suffer cognitive injustice. As I pointed out previously, their core postulates, key concepts, basic methodologies, undergirding theories and competing models are still drawn from and essentially represent extrapolates of discrete European and American socio-historical experiences and cultural specificity (Lebakeng, 2000). According to Nabudere, epistemologically Western intellectual traditions are insensitive to different epistemological foundations within which methodologies, theories, paradigms, methods and techniques are framed for the creation of knowledge in particular epistemes (Nabudere, 2002). Precisely owing to this, the stark reality is that despite achievement of political independence, Africa continues to suffer from coloniality of knowledge, and universities in Africa remain philosophically wedded to the conventional historiography and epistemology that denigrated the continent. In modern times, this is attributable to the impact of globalisation on knowledge production and indigenous culture. In the last twenty years, globalisation increasingly became the defining characteristic of contemporary nations as it articulated the dominant features of modern existence. So overwhelming was globalisation and globalism that they spawned a litany of terms bearing the adjective ‘global’. These include ‘global system of governance’, ‘global society’, ‘global civil society’, ‘global culture’, ‘global discourse’, ‘global social agenda’, ‘global knowledge’, ‘global resistance’, ‘global citizens’, and ‘global consciousness’ (Lebakeng, 2001; Lebakeng & Mokobane, 2002). As an umbrella term for a complex series of economic, social, technological, cultural and political changes seen in the form of increasing interdependence and integration between nations, the impact of globalisation has been a rapid cultural westernisation. In other words, the trend towards globalisation and a ‘global culture’ was threatening to worsen the situation of the status of indigenous knowledge (Mazzocchi, 2006).

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20 The confluence of factors such as colonisation, modernity and globalisation have meant that the orientation, philosophy, methodologies and subject matter of the social sciences and humanities continue to overlook fundamentals about the nature of knowledge and knowledge rationality. The nature of knowledge is such that all knowledge is first of all local knowledge (Okere, Njoku & Devisch, 2005) and different knowledge traditions are best understood by examining their context (Agrawal, 1995). Therefore, all knowledge systems can be regarded as localised, situated ways of making coherent systems of meaning from an array of heterogeneous, disconnected and fragmented elements (Turnbull, 2000). More importantly, knowledge-building, even in the West is by no means a homogenous or monolithic univocal enterprise. For instance, hermeneutics, itself a Western intellectual product, asserts that any form of knowledge makes sense only within its own socio-cultural context. What is certain is that historically the multiple Western epistemological traditions have been encoded into different discourses in different languages. It is just that those that did not explicitly support the colonial and imperial project were marginalised. Therefore, it is an oxymoron to represent western ideas as universal since their cultural, theoretical, intellectual and philosophical presuppositions are profoundly European in the ethnocentric sense.

THE SOUTH AFRICAN EXPERIENCE WITH THE DISCIPLINES Although the social sciences and humanities played a critical role in colonisation, as academic subjects, the disciplines were introduced to the South African academy long after the colonial encounter and penetration. Nonetheless, since there was an organic connection between universities and their founding moments, this meant that higher education in South Africa was part and parcel of the civilising mission and its social research work was useable to the regime (see Rex, 1981). The racist regime used universities for the intellectual and ideological justification of racial practices (Behr, 1987; Lebakeng, 2004). The social sciences and humanities were called upon to play a critical role in buttressing, embedding and perpetuating colonial-apartheid. They underpinned the ideological presuppositions and perversions of the colonial enterprise and as such, were morally and intellectually implicated. In many histories of South Africa, indigenous African people appeared as shadowy figures in the background of white historical experiences and history making (Maylam, 1986). South African universities were attentive to the socio-political issues of the time and, as such, were not passive beneficiaries but active participants in ensuring the colonial-apartheid government injected capital in their programmes and funded them generously. For instance, sociology departments emerged as part of a social work programme and contained a strong policy orientation. The discipline focused on the limited concerns such as those of welfare agencies or those of a patron such as the government (Webster, 2004). Such disciplines failed, to a larger extent, to bring their intellectual resources to bear on the oppression and exploitation of the majority. Lest one is accused of intellectual ignorance, it is important to point out that in the 1960s/1970s there was a noticeable trend towards Marxism and Leninism and scholars in the social sciences and humanities played a crucial role in the struggle against colonial-apartheid. Marxism and Leninism inspired and provided a combative discourse and did not adopt depoliticising strategies. However, no matter how important the social theory provided by Marxism and Leninism, these cannot be offered as epistemological alternatives since they had universal pretensions and shared as much baggage as those founded on European history at a particular time. By various accounts, the disciplines are still not relevant even to the post-apartheid social conditions of a democratising South Africa. I have previously argued that the result of overlooking the historical perspective in the educational sphere has been the false and misleading but commonly held stratification of higher education, especially its university subset, as either merely black/disadvantaged or white/advantaged The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


21 (Lebakeng, 2003; 2004). Such descriptors emanated from an incorrect historical understanding regarding the development, nature and role of universities in colonial-apartheid South Africa. This does not mean that some form of work has not been done to reverse the situation. We now understand better that the real problem of universities in South Africa has been that of the right to be an African university (Lebakeng, 2004; 2003; Lebakeng, Phalane & Nase, 2006). This right was denied through a process of denying, degrading and marginalising indigenous African knowledge systems. In the post-apartheid era such process takes place through resistance to transform universities in the current dispensation and the fact that globalisation and its market extremism was at its peak (Chachage, 1999). In this respect, the changes which have been made have not addressed the root causes of the problem. In many of the tertiary institutions the changes have involved merely transforming the racial composition of management, academics and students in the institutions and leaving intact the pedagogical traditions and epistemological cultures which had been in existence since the colonial-apartheid era. Students in South Africa are not exposed to social theories, specialised concepts, and research findings, as well as a range of tools related to investigation and analysis that can help them understand themselves, their families, their communities, and society as they strive to find meaning in the world around them. I therefore concur with the thrust of the thesis advanced by Alatas (1972; 1974) that the poor performance rate of black students is due to alienation and that black students are made to feel inferior through the Western epistemologies which dominate their pedagogies. Rather than undermining their immediate experiences, values, beliefs systems and knowledge systems, students should be taught through a juxtaposition of their own perceptions, attitudes, values, and beliefs with those of others. This should be with the objective of developing an understanding and appreciation of the contexts through which their own and others’ worldviews are formed. Through research, inquiry skills and critical thinking, the disciplines can play a key role in shaping students’ views about life and learning. By developing an understanding of the contextualised nature of their ideas, values, and ways of life, students come to appreciate and honour, rather than fear, the diversity with which they are surrounded. The social sciences and humanities curriculum should provide varied opportunities for students to learn about ethical issues, explore ethical standards, and demonstrate ethical responsibility. Knowledge and understanding developed through the study of the disciplines should help inform discussion on critical social, cultural, economic, technological, environmental, and wellness issues, and can provide a strong foundation for vibrant, healthy, and engaged citizenship. The array of crises facing the social sciences and humanities are captured generally in the World Social Science Report 2010 and specifically in the two recent reports on the state of the social sciences and humanities in South Africa. The disciplines are not adding value in the post-apartheid era. There can be no doubt that the academic landscape in the social sciences and humanities need an infusion of socio-cultural relevance, conceived as a function of how these disciplines respond to the national concerns while taking into account global imperatives. As such, the crisis in the disciplines presents an opportunity to engage with the burning issues in academia. Moreover, a growing recognition of the value of indigenous knowledge (Brush & Stabinsky, 1996) provides a useful and much needed counterpoint to earlier discourses that denigrated such knowledge systems. Premised on this understanding there continues to be a need for a radical overhaul of the whole epistemological paradigm underlying the current educational system in South Africa. Contending theories of transformation of (higher) education In her article ‘Contradictory transformations: observations on the intellectual dynamics of South African universities’, Sheehan points to the reality that although the master narrative of colonial-apartheid had The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


22 been overthrown, it was apparent that this was a result of a historical compromise hence there would be no expropriation of the expropriators (Sheehan, 2009). Nonetheless, there was consensus on the fact that the landscape of (higher) education was one ‘largely dictated by the geo-political imagination of apartheid planners (Asmal, 1999) and had to be re-imagined. Too many people and communities had been left behind under the colonial-apartheid due to structural inequalities and discrimination. Although resistance to colonial-apartheid spawned a rich history of ideas and approaches on transformation, a notable feature of oppositional politics was the silence on the concrete specification of the means by which transformation of colonial-apartheid education was to be effected and a lack of transformatory vision and philosophy of education (Badat, 1997). In the post-1994 period, there has been a wide array of transformation-oriented initiatives seeking to effect institutional change. These have included the definition of the purposes and goals of (higher) education; extensive policy research, policy formulation, adoption, and implementation in the areas of governance, funding, academic structure and programmes and quality assurance; the enactment of new laws and regulations; and major restructuring and reconfiguration of the higher education institutional landscape and of institutions. These initiatives have often tested the capacities and capabilities of the state and (higher) education institutions and have affected the pace, nature and outcomes of change (Badat, 2010). In my doctoral thesis, Prospects and problems of transforming universities in South Africa, with special reference to the right to be an African university, I identified four contending theories of transformation of higher education in South Africa. These theories are: the protectionist, the institutional autonomist, the micro-level pro-change, and the macro-level pro-change (Lebakeng, 2004). These theories are informed by vested interests and are contested over converging historical narratives. The protectionists cast the issue of transformation in terms of standards and knowledge systems. The core of their argument is that standards, especially at universities formerly for white colonial-settlers, will inevitably be lowered as higher education institutions redefine their priorities to accommodate the rising numbers of indigenous African, Coloured and Indian students. It is a tendency that argues that quantity as a result of massification, that is, the broadening of the educational landscape on the basis of gender, age, and race inevitably undermines quality (Vilakazi & Tema, 1991; Vera, 1996). As Jansen pointed out, three aspects of the use of standards have been prominent, namely, standards of entry, engagement and exit. Initially, standards of entry were used as a mechanism of denying students who were not white access to study at universities meant for white colonial-settlers (Jansen, 1995). Owing to transformative pressures, subsequently the focus shifted to standards of engagements and exit. Whereas the arguments for standards of entry were used to keep indigenous African, Coloured and Indian students out of these institutions, those of engagement and exit have ensured that the very few who manage to enter actually face horrendous engagements or do not exit successfully. Stories of white lectures discouragingly telling, especially indigenous African and Coloured students that mathematics, medicine and science are not for them are abundant. The protectionists have a fierce opposition to any theoretical/philosophical pronouncements that suggest or recommend the abandoning of the elitist colonial nature of (higher) education in South Africa. For them, colonial traditions of education have benefited South Africa by taking the country out of darkness. In particular they are firmly opposed to the Africanisation of scholarship in terms of research, what is being taught, how it is being taught and the purpose for teaching it. Critically, for them the restructuring is a front for an exclusivist Africanisation agenda which will inevitably lead to the lowering standards, encouraging poor scholarship and intellectual anarchy (Makgoba, 1996).

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23 These doom-laden assumptions about Africanisation fail to take into account the historical reality of epistemicide and exclusion. By excluding the African experience in the conceptualisation, construction and design of education in South Africa, only white colonial-settlers had a part in the conceptualisation, construction, design and application of such academic standards. There is, therefore, a need to distinguish between a socially responsible notion of pursuing standards and excellence from one that seeks to reproduce past inequalities. The protectionists fall in the second category. The second theorists, the institutional autonomists, take a position that is opposed to the declaration that ‘the university in Africa occupies too critical a position of importance to be left to determine its own priorities’ and that it should therefore ‘accept the hegemony of government’. They vociferously assert the autonomy of higher education institutions against any form of state ‘interference’. This position takes its cue from the position that ‘a university has to be insulated from the hot and cold of politics’. In this vision of higher education governance, states should simply fund education and the institutions would then exercise their discretion in allocating and spending the funds, as well as in appointments, decisions on the curriculum, access and promotions. For instance, initially the then Afrikaner universities championed a position of assertive insistence on defending the right to maintain an Afrikaner character (Hugo, 1998). The fundamental assumption of the institutional autonomists is that reflective and rational individuals in positions of power and academics in these institutions can identify imperfections, such as racism and sexism, of such institutions and logically come up with appropriate mechanisms to address them. This assumption needs to be rendered problematic given the implications thereof. Given that those expected to supposedly display benevolence are some of the same people who thrive on epistemicide in South Africa, the approach is rather mischievous. Essentially, the institutional autonomist theory functions as the guardian of the status quo ante by superficially tinkering with the problems facing higher education in South Africa. This is a situation where change is clearly a painful process, especially for those whose interests are threatened by changing the conditions that preserve and privilege them. The micro-level pro-change conceptualise change in a piecemeal and incremental sense. Three factors are noteworthy. First, its time perspective on transformation is incredibly long. Thus, its proponents continually urge indigenous Africans and other groups to be elastically patient, accepting relatively small changes with the assumption that time and goodwill are the ultimate handmaidens of an improved lot. Second, transformation is perceived as occurring most legitimately and effectively from the top down, that is, it is driven by the benevolence of the enlightened and not through popular social struggles. Third, the theory focuses on few aspects of transformation such as access and governance and does not accord other aspects such as curriculum (the whole way in which teaching and learning is organised) and syllabus (the content of what is taught) priority status. The proponents of this theory are extremely superficial in their historical analysis as they only speak to the immediacy of apartheid-ism and thus inadvertently forestall and undermine the transformation process. For Dlamini, the reason for incremental change is that some people accept change in principle but have difficulty with which aspects of change should be effected (Dlamini, 1995) The macro-level pro-change is primarily concerned with a broader and more nuanced understanding of transformation, namely, a holistic, totalising, radical and comprehensive change. Accordingly, this theory does not view the transformation of tertiary educational institutions as an insular process detached from similar processes in the society as a whole. In fact, education in general and higher education in particular, is seen as carrying the burden of providing the intellectual and cultural leadership to accomplish the transformation of South African society. According to the proponents of this theory, apart from structural aspects such as mergers, the master narratives of the new educational dispensation must be framed as the quest for Africanisation (Seepe, 1996; Ramose, 1998) and by the desire to insert indigenous knowledge The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


24 systems in the design and construction of education (Lebakeng, 2010). In that way, scholarship will be made relevant rather than remain antiseptic and removed from lived experiences in the country. This means grounding the university in South Africa in African realities and experiences and having it informed by indigenous African philosophies both as part of its being and to reject the idea that the country is an outpost of Western civilisation and traditions. Of essence here is that all talk of ‘rainbow nation’ and ‘multiculturalism’ will remain an illusion as long as: (a) indigenous African people, who are a demographic majority remain a cultural and social minority and (b) the forms of social imagination that predominates encourage exclusivity by making a single western ethnographic reference. Clearly, the macro-level pro-change theory offers a more sophisticated and nuanced historical understanding of fundamental issues. The theory allows for the location of historical dynamics and processes of epistemicide within the broader context of the history, polity and sociality of the country. This is even more important given that South African universities remain profoundly untransformed in their institutional cultures and epistemological paradigms despite the new dispensation (Lebakeng, 2004; Lebakeng, Phalane & Nase, 2006). From the foregoing, we can conclude that South African universities have been caught up in a complex field of forces with conflicting pressures. The result is a state of disharmonious and contradictory transformations - one stemming from the politics of liberation and the other from the demands of globalisation (Shaheen, 2009) and the desperate need to preserve the ill-gains of the colonial ‘right to conquest’. The result is that the nature and orientation of the social sciences and humanities have not changed fundamentally. Colonial knowledge production and orientation continue to dominate and characterise the construction of knowledge and the design and development of education in South Africa (Lebakeng, 2010). Towards relevance in the social sciences and humanities in the South African academy In times of crisis there is an inevitable return to fundamentals. Questions such as the relation of knowledge to the world of experience are revived, often in a disharmonious way (Mafeje, 1976). That such a state of affairs obtains in the social sciences and humanities can only be judged by the existence of contending theories of transformation. Agrawal points to ‘the failure of modern science and grand theories to improve the life chances of native peoples’ as reason for a shift in how indigenous knowledge is perceived (Agrawal, 1995). In South Africa, indigenous knowledge has forcefully featured in various agendas and has been reflected upon in both academic and practitioner contexts (Nel, 2005) and has gained both conceptual and discursive currency in the last twenty-odd years (Horsthemke, 2004). This has to be understood within a context of general dissatisfaction with the state of the relevance of Western epistemological paradigms in the social sciences and humanities. Thus, indigenisation of the social sciences and humanities has, as one of its core tenets, decolonising the African mind. The central objective in decolonising the African mind is to overthrow the authority that alien traditions may still exercise. A reconstructive challenge would then consist in revitalising the historical and cultural possibilities of the African legacy, interrupted by colonial-apartheid. In terms of education it would mean inscribing the African experience in the construction of knowledge and design of education (Ramose, 2002). As things stand, the nature and orientation of colonial-apartheid social science and humanities education is not suitable for the new mammoth task of democratisation. However, there are some positive developments. Among these is the fact that South African history is no longer presented purely within the parameters set by a colonial-apartheid society or broadly framed as the history of European expansion to the continent. Rather, it is in the process of being assimilated into the history of the African continent. As part of this new understanding of African history, African civilisation and how Europe underdeveloped Africa, indigenous African knowledge, in all its ethnographic sense and particularism, is found to be important. The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


25 That the successors in the title to the benefits of the unjust wars of colonisation continue to make sustained effort to reaffirm, defend and perpetuate Western epistemological paradigms at the expense of indigenous knowledge systems is an on-going problem with which to contend. However, the biggest challenge is the dearth of philosophically grounded scholars capable of reshaping the contours of an African university through inscribing indigenous knowledge systems in the design and construction of the social sciences and humanities. Although a great deal of work has been undertaken in the area of indigenous knowledge systems, most of it is descriptive, anecdotal and truncated and fail to theorise the issues. Such work is empirically grounded but still lacks the relevant epistemological paradigm, philosophical underpinnings and theorisation to liberate the disciplines from the tyranny of received knowledge, monolithic epistemology and dominant Western rationality. There is a need to recognise the historical, institutional and normative baggage of the disciplines and so as to explore their appropriation, localisation and grounding in an emancipatory and transformative agenda. This position does not, as alarmists tend to warn, imply dispensing with everything that emanates from Western universities in general or European ones in particular. The implications are quite clear: Africans cannot continue to slavishly adopt and embrace every aspect of these disciplinary sources. Of course apologists would see such historical recollections and intentions as an ill wind that does nobody any good as it offends the sensibilities of European intellectual traditions. It is my contention that this is neither innocent of racism nor free from the intention to preserve and perpetuate the gains of the questionable ‘right of conquest’. Such accusations are meant to discourage endeavours aimed at creating space for indigenous African knowledge and constitute part of the politics of discourse management in the social sciences (see Sithole, 2009). This is part of the traditional ways of circumscribing and pre-empting the entry into discourse of indigenous systems and modes. We can only allay such overriding fears by taking a leaf from that African wit, Pitika Ntuli who once said: ‘The fear of dying gave birth to medicine. The fear of indigenous knowledge systems could give rise to a new thrust in scholarship’ (Ntuli, 1999). The central objective in indigenising the social sciences and humanities is to address the confluence of crises facing such disciplines and thus salvaging them from being marginalised, rendered irrelevant to the point of being destroyed. This means overthrowing the authority that alien traditions have continued to exercise in teaching, research and publications. More importantly, it is an attempt to privilege African scholarship in terms of research, teaching and publication in order to assume a respectable position in world scholarship. This could only be possible if these disciplines were grounded on African experiences and aspirations and reflected/articulated African hopes, wishes, sensibilities, dilemmas and predicaments.

REFERENCES Agrawal, A. (1995) ‘Dismantling the divide between indigenous and scientific knowledge’ Development and Change 26 pp.413- 439. Ake, C. (1982) Social Science as Imperialism: The Theory of Political Development. Ibadan: Ibadan University Press. Alatas, S.H. (1972) ‘The captive mind in development studies’ International Social Science Journal 34(1) pp.9-25. Alatas, S.H. (1974)‘The captive mind and creative development’ International Social Science Journal 36(4) pp.691-699.

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26 Asad, T. (Ed.) (1973) Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter. London: Ithaca Press. Asmal, K. (1999) Call for Action. Pretoria: Department of Education. Badat, S. (1997) ‘Educational politics in transformation period’ In P. Kallaway, P. Kruss, A. Fataar & G. Donn (Eds.) Education after Apartheid: South African Education in Transition. Rondebosch: University of Cape Town Press. Badat, S. (2010) The Challenges of Transformation in Higher Education and Training Institutions in South Africa. Development Bank of Southern Africa: Johannesburg, South Africa. Behr, A.L. (1987) ‘South African universities today: Perceptions for a changing society’ South African Journal of Higher Education 1(1) pp.3-9. Brush, S.B. & Stabinsky, D. (1996) Valuing Local Knowledge: Indigenous People and Intellectual Property Rights. Washington, DC: Island Press. Cesaire, A. (2000) Discourse on Colonialism. New York: Monthly Review Press. Chachage, S.L. (1999) ‘Transformation and programmes: some reflections’ Unpublished paper. Department of Sociology: University of Cape Town. Corvenin, M. (1980) Apartheid: Power and Historical Falsification. Paris: UNESCO. Diop, Anta Cheikh (1988) Precolonial Black Africa. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. Dlamini, C.R.M. (1995) ‘The transformation of South African universities’ South African Journal of Higher Education 9(1) pp.39-46. Fanon, F. (1968) The Wretched of the Earth (1961). (Tr. Constance Farrington). New York: Routledge. Fanon, F. (1970) Black Skin, White Masks (1952). (Tr. Charles Lam Markmann). London: Paladin. Freire, P. (1996) Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970). London:Penguin. Groves, C.P. (1969) ‘Missionary and humanitarian aspects of imperialism from 1870 to 1914’ In L.H Gann & P. Duignan (Eds.) Colonialism in Africa 1870-1960. Vol.1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hoerner, A. (1977) Science and Values in Fundamental Pedagogics. Johannesburg: University of Witwatersrand. Horsthemke, K. (2004) ‘”Indigenous knowledge” – conceptions and misconceptions’ Journal of Education 2 pp.31-48. Hugo, P. (1998) ‘The changing context of academia in post-apartheid South Africa’ African Affairs 97(386) pp.5-27. Jansen, J.D. (1991) (Ed.) Knowledge and Power in South Africa: Critical Perspectives Across the Disciplines. Johannesburg: Skotaville Publishers. The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


27 Jansen, J. (1995) ‘Standards and other myths: The transformation of universities in South Africa’ The Academic Freedom Lecture. University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg), June. Lebakeng, T.J. (2000) ‘Africanisation of the social sciences and humanities in South Africa: an African intellectual challenge’ In L.A. Kasanga (Ed.) Changes and Challenges at Historically Disadvantaged Universities. Sovenga: The University of the North Press pp.93-109. Lebakeng, T.J. (2001) ‘The state, globalisation and higher education’ Southern African Political and Economic Monthly 14(7) pp.23-24. Lebakeng, T.J. & Mokobane, C.C. (2002) ‘Globalisation and higher education in South Africa’ In M.W. Legotlo (Ed.) Education in Africa for Africa: Thoughts and Experiences. SASE conference proceedings. Pretoria Technikon. pp.108-115. Lebakeng, T.J. (2003) ‘Epistemicide, mergers and the problem of history and memory in the transformation of South African higher education’ South African Sociological Association Conference, University of Natal, Durban 29 June - 2 July. http://interaction.nu.ac.za/sasa2003/Lebakeng.htm (Accessed 17 December 2013). Lebakeng, T.J. (2004) Prospects and Problems of Transforming Universities in South Africa, with Special Reference to the Right to be an African University. PhD thesis. Department of Sociology. Sovenga: University of the North. Lebakeng, T.J., Phalane, M.M. & Nase, D. (2006) ‘Epistemicide, institutional cultures and the imperative for Africanisation of universities in South Africa’ Alternation 13(1) pp.70-87. Lebakeng, T.J. (2010) ‘The quest to inscribe indigenous knowledge in South African education’ CALABASH: Journal of Indigenous Studies 4 pp.28-39. Mafeje, A. (1976) ‘The problem of anthropology in historical perspective: An inquiry into the growth of the social sciences’ Canadian Journal of African Studies 10(2) pp.307-333. Magubane, B. (1986) The Political Economy of Race and Class in South Africa. New York: Monthly Review Press. Magubane, B. (1971) ‘A critical look at the indices used in the study of social change in colonial Africa’ Current Anthropology 12(4-5) pp.419-445. Makgoba, M.W. (1996) ‘South African universities in transformation’ Perspectives in Education 17 pp.175-186. Maylam, P. (1986) A History of the African People of South Africa: From the Early Iron Age to the 1970s. London: Croom Helm. Mazzocchi, F. (2006) ‘Western science and traditional knowledge; despite their variations, different forms of knowledge can learn from each other’ EMBO Reports May 7(5) pp.463-466. Memmi, A. (1963) The Coloniser and the Colonised. Boston: Beacon Press.

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28 Mudimbe, V.Y. (1988) The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge. Indiana: Indiana University Press. Nabudere, D.W. (2002) ‘The epistemological and methodological foundations for an all-inclusive research paradigm in the search for global knowledge’ African Association of Political Science Occasional Paper Series 6(1). Nel, PJ. (2005) ‘Indigenous Knowledge Systems: Contestation, Rhetoric and Space’ Indilinga: African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems 4 pp.2-14. Ntuli, P.P. (1999) ‘The missing link between culture and education. Are we chasing the gods that are not our own?’ In W.M. Makgoba (Ed.) African Renaissance. Mafube: Tafelberg pp.184-199. Ngugi, wa T. (1986) Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. London: James Currey. Okere, T., Nojoku, C.A. & Devisch, R. (2005) ‘All knowledge is first of all local knowledge: An introduction’ Africa Development XXX(3) pp.1-19. Ramose, M.B. (1998) ‘Foreword’ In S. Seepe (Ed.) Black Perspective(s) on Tertiary Institutional Transformation. Florida: Vivlia Publishers & University of Venda. pp.iv-vii. Ramose, M.B. (1999) African Philosophy Through Ubuntu. Harare: Mond Publishers. Ramose, M.B. (2002) ‘Inscribing the African experience in the construction of knowledge and the design of education in South Africa’ In L.A. Kasanga & T.J. Lebakeng (Eds.) Paradigm Shift in South African Higher Education. Sovenga: University of the North. pp.147-162. Rex, J. (1981) Apartheid and Social Research. Paris: UNESCO Press. Rodney, W. (1972) How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Dar es Salaam: Tanzania Publishers House. Sall, E. (2013) ‘2013 CODESRIA Acceptance Speech of the Latin American Regional Integration Award’ CODESRIA Bulletin 3 & 4 pp.3-5. Seepe, S. (1996) ‘Reform needs a liberatory philosophy’ Higher Education Review Supplement of the Sunday Independent. June 2. Sheehan, H. (2009) ‘Contradictory transformations: observations on the intellectual dynamics of South African universities’ Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies 7(1) pp.67-105. http://www.jceps.coml (Accessed 10 January 2014). Sithole, M.P. (2009) Unequal Peers: The Politics of Discourse Management in the Social Sciences. Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa. Turnbull, D. (2000) Masons, Tricksters and Cartographers: Comparative Studies in the Sociology of Scientific and Indigenous Knowledge. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic. Vera, V.N. (1996) ‘The politics of transforming higher education in South Africa’ National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS) Savannah State University, Georgia. March, 6-10. The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


29 Vilakazi, H. & Tema, B. (1991) ‘White universities and the black revolution: Inside the white power structure’ In J.D. Jansen (Ed.) Knowledge and Power in South Africa: Critical Perspectives Across the Disciplines. Johannesburg: Skotaville Publishers. pp.127-140. Webster, E. (2004) ‘Sociology in South Africa: Its past. Present and future’ Society in Transition 35(1) pp.27-41. Williams, C. (1971) The Destruction of Black Civilisation: Great Issues of Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D. Chicago: Third World Press. World Social Science Report (2010) International Social Science Council & UNESCO Headquarters, Paris.

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30 Cultural factors as predictors of cognitive test performance in information systems and technology education1 Peter Denny - Varsity College, The Independent Institute of Education, South Africa Manoj Maharaj - University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

ABSTRACT A scan of the international literature suggests the existence in various countries of a persistent culturebased academic performance gap across various subjects, including information systems and technology. This study investigated whether, almost two decades after the formal demise of Apartheid, a culture-based academic achievement gap similarly persists in the South African university classroom in the field of information and systems technology. When using post-test scores as the dependent variable the findings showed significant culture-based differences in cognitive test performance. However, there were no significant differences in performance improvement (gain) scores on cognitive testing for the same sample. This suggests that previously disadvantaged students may be capable of responding as effectively as more advantaged students to an equalised educational context once the ‘playing fields are levelled’ at university.1

CULTURE DEFINED Definitions of culture abound and are as varied as the concept they attempt to define. Markus (2008) identifies the many divergent views in the literature of various academic disciplines in attempting to define and distinguish concepts such as ‘race’, ‘ethnicity’ and ‘culture’. It is certainly beyond the scope of this discussion to argue the merits of one definition over another and indeed that will not be attempted here. For the purposes of this study and in the interests of ensuring clear interpretation of the data present herein, it is worth clarifying at the outset that, with due respect to the complex definitions presented by social and differential psychologists, any reference made to ‘culture’ in this discussion is limited in meaning to any combination of race (used interchangeably and synonymously herein with ‘ethnicity’), home language and gender. Takooshian (2010) supports this inclusion of gender, race and home language as legitimate parts of a definition of culture and refers to seminal authors in the field of differential psychology who included these and many other aspects of the human condition in their definitions of what constitutes ‘culture’ (Anastasi, 1954; Cohen, 2009). A review of international research reveals that there is no shortage of evidence of a culture-based performance gap in academic performance. This performance gap appears to persist across a variety of levels of education and subjects. For example, Sheehan & Marcus (1977) point out that research

1 Date of Submission 21 January 2014 Date of Acceptance 6 May 2014

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31 into differences in academic performance among ethnic groups in the American elementary school system consistently shows ethnicity-based disparities in achievement results. Dunn et al. (1990) identified culture-based variations in both learning preference and achievement among African-American, ChineseAmerican, Greek-American and Mexican-American fourth, fifth and sixth grade pupils in the United States on the Group Embedded Figures Test. However, this disparity in the United States is not limited to school students. A study conducted at the University of Davis, California, compared 6,720 Physics students and identified statistically significant performance differences between various ethnic and gender groupings (Calder & Ashbaugh, 2005). In this study, males scored higher than females across all ethnicities. Similarly, Stockly (2009) investigated performance data for more than 5,000 University of Texas Economics students and found significant variance along racial lines. Other studies found a similar trend in the Texas school system and noted that since desegregation in the 1960s, the race-based performance gap in the classroom has not improved (Hanushek & Rivkin, 2009; Neal, 2006). Demonstrating how prolific research has been on this subject, Wiggan (2008) refers to the ‘achievement gap narrative’ in the literature and cites various studies in the United States that identify a performance deficit between various ethnic groups. Wiggan goes on to consider the experiences of higher achieving minority students with the objective of providing some useful insights into what can be done to close the performance gap. Like many other researchers in this field, Wiggan refers briefly to ‘nature’ based theories that attempt to explain the race-based differences in performance levels, but then focuses on environmental issues such as discrimination in the classroom, socio-economic differences between ethnicities in America and on what he refers to as ‘oppositional identity’, which he defines as the tendency of minority students to perceive the educational institution as a means of perpetuating the status quo for the dominant majority. It is suggested in Wiggan’s study that students can (as exemplified by the high achieving minority students he interviews) overcome this challenge by developing an ‘engagement’ paradigm in respect of their perceptions of, and interaction with, teachers. Moreover, Wiggan points out that ‘teacher practices’ are perceived to be the most influential factor affecting performance, thus suggesting that performance can be improved by varying these strategies (Wiggan, 2008). Evidence of a race-based academic performance gap is not limited to the United States. Richardson (2009) researched the performance of Open University graduates in the United Kingdom and found that the attainment of ethnic minority groups tended to be lower (in terms of the class of honours attained). This trend was most pronounced in the distance learning programmes and was found to be true despite there not being disparity in terms of demographic variables (such as socio-economic factors, age or subject of study) among the students being compared. Moreover, in this particular study, it was found that these differences in performance levels were not concomitant with a qualitatively inferior educational experience for any given group of students (Richardson, 2009). Various other studies conducted in the United Kingdom report similar results. For example, Leslie (2005) quotes the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) for the period 1998-2000 and points out that minority ethnic groups lagged behind other groups in respect of the number of students graduating with an upper second or better in universities in the United Kingdom. Connor (1996) identifies a similar trend and reports disparities in achievement among Black, Indian and Chinese students. Naylor & Smith (2004) report that the probability of ethnic minority students attaining lower results was higher than for other groupings, even after demographic variables were controlled (based on their analysis of data for 1998 in the United Kingdom).

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32

CULTURE AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGY The challenges related to multicultural education are as prevalent in the field of information systems and technology (IS&T) education as in any other field. The international literature abounds with discussion around race and gender differences in academic achievement and experiences of students in IS&T education (Badat, 2010; Crombie, Abarbanel & Anderson, 2000; Crombie, Abarbanel & Trinneer, 2002; DuBow, 2011; Fisher & Margolis, 2002; Kafai, 1998; Katz, Aronis, Allbritton, Wilson & Soffa, 2003; Kirkup, Zalevski, Maruyama & Batool, 2010; Moorman & Johnson, 2003; Payton, 2003). Research indicates that females and minorities continue to be under-represented in IS&T related employment and programmes of study in various countries of the world, including the United States (DuBow, 2011), the United Kingdom (Kirkup et al., 2010) and South Africa (Badat, 2010; ISETT SETA, 2010). For example in the United States, females and minority groups such as African-Americans, Hispanics and American Indians have consistently been under-represented in computer and information science degrees (Margolis, 2001). This has inevitably led to under-representation of these same groups in the information technology (IT) workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are projected to be about 1.4 million jobs related to computer and information technologies in America by 2018, which represents a growth of 22% over 2008 figures and is higher than for any other occupation (DuBow, 2011). Women and minority groups are currently poorly represented in this growing computing-related workforce and there is no evidence that this state of affairs is projected to change for the better in the near future. The percentage of women employed in computing related occupations in the United States since 2000 continues to decline. The most recent figures available show that of the 897,000 women employed in computing related occupations in the United States, 69% are White, 16% are African-American, 9% are Asian/Pacific Islander and 6% are Latina/Hispanic (DuBow, 2011). This decline in diversity in the IT workforce is ironic, since reports suggest that technology companies with the highest representation of women in their senior management teams showed a higher return on equity than did those with fewer or no women in these roles. A recent study showed that diversity (both in terms of gender and race) was associated with increases in sales revenue, customers and profits (Herring, 2009). Despite the increasing demand for more skilled IT professionals in the United States, the number of graduates in related degrees is decreasing. Moreover, not only has the total number of university graduates in the field of computer or information sciences in the United States been steadily declining, female and minority representation in this field of study remains disproportionately low (DuBow, 2011). For example, in 2009, while women earned 57% of all undergraduate degrees in the United States, only 18% of all computer and information sciences undergraduate degrees were earned by women. Of these 6,966 women, 48% were White, 19% were African-American, and the remainder was made up of various other ethnic minorities (DuBow, 2011). Gender and race disparities also exist at secondary school level. This is illustrated by the demographics of students taking the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science exam in the United States. The College Board (The College Board, 2012) reports that of the students taking the Computer Science exam in 2011, 55.4% were White, 4.6% were African-American and the remainder represented various other ethnic minorities. In terms of gender, 19% were female and 81% were male. A considerable amount of research has been undertaken to unearth the reasons for these gender and race disparities. For example, research suggests that females tend to view the computer science field as ‘male dominated’ and that both the curriculum and the culture of computer science is such that women feel they would succeed in this arena only if they modelled themselves after the ‘stereotypical male computer science student’ (Fisher & Margolis, 2002; Moorman & Johnson, 2003). Interestingly, various experiments with female only computer science classes to attempt to address these issues of perceived male dominance have met with

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33 some success in terms of encouraging increased participation by females and in increasing their sense of confidence on computer science courses (Crombie et al., 2000, 2002; Moorman & Johnson, 2003). Research suggests that these findings on female disaffection from computer science courses also appear to hold true for minority groupings. For example, Payton (2003) found that, like their female compatriots, African-American students tended to avoid computer and information science majors. Culture-based disparities (including those related to home language, gender and race) in academic performance, which is a requisite for retention in computer and information science courses, further exacerbate this under-representation in the IT workplace. A variety of studies have explored the factors that influence academic performance in IT related education with a view to identifying ways to close the culture-based achievement gap. This research has identified a number of different factors that predict achievement in university IT courses, including experiential, affective, personality and cognitive factors. Examples of such factors include simply owning a computer (Taylor & Mounfield, 1994), having access to and using computers in high school (Kagan, 1988), some experience (even if it is informal ‘playing’) in computer programming (Koohang & Byrd, 1987), confidence levels, self-efficacy and aptitudes related to mathematics, spatial and verbal reasoning (Cafolla, 1987; Clement, Kurland, Mawby & Pea, 1986; Jagacinski, LeBold & Salvendy, 1988; Webb, 1984). Interestingly, despite the gender disparities in representation in the IT workforce and in computer related educational programmes, the literature does not find decisively that women perform worse than males in terms of IT related academic achievement. For example, a number of studies involving gender comparisons of academic achievement in programming related courses have found that female students perform as well, if not better, than male students, both in the pre-university and undergraduate context (Kafai, 1998; Margolis, 2001; Taylor & Mounfield, 1994; Volet & Styles, 1992). Katz et al. (2003) investigated race and gender as predictors of computer science achievement (Perl programming) among computer and information science students at a multi-cultural university in the United States. Whites and Asians were grouped in that study and identified as the ‘majority’, while African-American students were viewed as the ‘minority’. The dependent variables used in this study were improvement (gain) score and course grade and showed significant gender and race related differences in programming performance. In respect of gender differences, Katz et al. (2003) found partial support in the findings of their study for the findings of other studies which reveal gender differences in software use and development in respect of such factors as ‘experimentation’ and ‘programming play’ (Kafai, 1998; Margolis, 2001). Race differences in performance were also found in this study. Katz et al. (2003) quote Light (2001) in arguing that simply providing minorities with access to technology is unlikely to resolve the culture-base performance disparities they found and that they believe are rooted in complex issues of social inequality, pointing out that the African-American students that participated in their study had reported adequate access to computers during pre-college years. Katz et al. (2003) suggest that the minority students entered the course ill-prepared in terms of mathematics, verbal and basic programming skills, which the study showed were predictive of performance, and that better preparation in these skills is a major part of the solution. Apart from the studies referred to in the foregoing that focus on race and gender factors, much of the culture-based academic performance gap literature relates to the impact of language related factors. For example, Howie and her associates at the University of Pretoria investigated the impact of second language learning on learner performance and found that learners whose home language was one of the African languages performed worst on language tests (Howie et al., 2008). Their discussion and conclusions on the results of the study focus on socio-economic explanations. They opine that South Africa’s ‘political heritage’, the inadequacy of resources in the schools these learners attended and the severity of the socioeconomic context under which learning takes place explain the poor performance results. Similarly, the The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


34 superior performance of the English and Afrikaans home language speakers is explained with reference to the ‘diversity of quality imposed historically on the education system along race and language lines’ (Howie et al., 2008). It is important when discussing reasons for the performance gap in education to note that although English is the primary language in both commerce and higher education, it is the home language of only 8.2% of the population. On this note, De Wet et al. (2009) point out that not only did Apartheid create separate educational systems with inequalities in terms of factors such as resources and infrastructure, but it also effectively used language policy to perpetuate segregated learning. Turning to South Africa specifically, the ISETT SETA’s Sector Skills Plan 2011-2016 suggests that the ICT sector is expected to grow over the next few years by about 5% per annum. This growth is expected to coincide with a concomitant demand for more ICT professionals. This may at first glance appear encouraging. However, the demand is for highly specialised skills and, as reported in the ISETT SETA’s Sector Skills Plan 2011-2016, the major employers of ICT skills continue to lament, not only the shortage of skills, but also the poor quality of ICT graduates coming from the institutions of higher learning (ISETT SETA, 2010). Given the government’s stated objectives of 85% Black and 54% female representation in the ICT sector’s workforce (and the fact that current employment figures are nowhere near that target), there is a need for urgent attention to be paid to addressing the issues that prevent Black and female students from achieving their full potential in the ICT classrooms and meeting the critical need for well-qualified entrants to the workplace (ISETT SETA, 2010). An important first step in addressing this issue is describing the nature of the culture-based performance gap in information systems and technology education.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY Research Objective and Questions This study sought to determine whether performance gaps exist between students of different races, home languages and genders in information systems and technology education at a South African university, and explored the following research questions: Research question 1 (RQ1): ‘Are cultural factors predictors of cognitive test performance in information systems and technology education?’ Sub-question 1.1 (SQ1.1): ‘Is race a predictor of cognitive test performance in information systems and technology education?’ Sub-question 1.2 (SQ1.2): ‘Is home language a predictor of cognitive test performance in information systems and technology education?’ Sub-question 1.3 (SQ1.3): ‘Is gender a predictor of cognitive test performance in information systems and technology education?’ Research Approach A pilot study was first conducted to ascertain the applicability, readability, credibility and reliability of the research instrument. The data collected from the pilot study were subject to strict reliability tests. Only those constructs passing the reliability tests were included in the main study. Data collected during the primary analysis were also subject to Cronbach’s Alpha test to measure internal consistency. Chi Squared tests were also conducted to determine the nature of the data obtained, and hence apply suitable statistical analyses. The pre- and post- assessment tests used were standard internationally tested and reliable instruments. The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


35 In addressing the research objective and questions described above, a census was attempted in terms of collecting data from all first year students enrolled for Information Systems and Technology at a public university in South Africa, and in respect of three different courses. Each course was taught by a different lecturer with a specific demographic in terms of race, home language and gender, allowing for analysis of potential linkages between teacher student match/mismatch and performance scores. Of the 1,157 students enrolled in the first-year programme, 496 chose to participate as part of the cognitive testing sample for Course A (Databases), 474 participated in the Course B (Networks) sample, and 509 participated in the Course C (Spreadsheets) sample. To measure cognitive test performance, pre- and post- training assessment tests were developed to assess the students’ cognitive learning in respect of each of the three courses’ subject matter. These assessment tests took the form of multiple choice questionnaires, an assessment approach not uncommon in the field of Information Systems and Technology when assessing technical skills (Roberts, 2006). Ten multiple choice questions with mutually exclusive options were presented for each of the three subject areas, based upon the course content for the semester. Three separate pre-tests were administered to each student for each of the three courses in advance of any lectures taking place. Post-tests (the same instrument) were subsequently administered immediately after completion of the lecture period for each course (at the end of the semester in this case). For each course, each student’s pre-test score was then subtracted from the post test score to obtain an ‘improvement score’. Analysis of the data was conducted on two fronts:

1. Using post-test score as the dependent variable 2. Using Improvement score as the dependent variable.

Ethical Considerations Strict ethical guidelines imposed by the host institution for this study, as well as the respondent institutions, were met. All respondents were informed of their rights and responsibilities and had to provide informed consent prior to participating. Students who were not willing to accept the conditions of participation, and hence did not sign the informed consent letter, were not included in the study. Additionally, informed consent and permission to conduct the research was obtained from the institutions. Respondents were informed that their responses would be used only in aggregate and it would not be possible to identify individuals from the research presented. All data collected is securely stored at the host institution for a period of five years for audit purposes. Data analysis models A variety of data analysis models are used in the international studies conducted to date on the subject of culture-based performance predictors. For example, while Sheehan used multiple regression to investigate the impact of teacher student race congruence on vocabulary and mathematics achievement, Stroter favours Hierarchical Liner Modeling to address the multi-level nature of her data (Sheehan & Marcus, 1977; Stroter, 2008). Zhang uses three different models of varying levels of statistical stringency on the same data set in the form of Zero-Order Correlations, multiple regression and Hierarchical Multiple Regression in his study on learning style congruence as a predictor of cognitive performance (Zhang, 2006). In line with international studies of a similar nature (such as those referred to in the foregoing), this study uses a multiple regression model to identify the extent to which the various independent variables (such

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36 as race, home language and gender) contribute to the variance of the dependent variables (improvement and post-test scores). Multiple regression Multiple regression is an accepted and widely used statistical method that is employed to account for (predict) the variance in an interval dependent variable, based on linear combinations of interval, dichotomous or dummy independent variables. The model identifies which independent variables contribute to the variance of the dependent variable and can also provide the relative predictive importance of the independent variables. In the case of this study, the dependent variable is improvement score – an interval scale variable. The independent variables are the dichotomous match/mismatch variables. Pre-test score is used as a covariate. While the analysis of an improvement (gain) score is a measure of the post-test score relative to the pretest score, it does not take into account differences in pre-test scores. Clearly, a person with a low pre-test score has the potential to achieve a higher improvement score than one with a high pre-test score. The interpretation of an analysis on a gain score can be problematic when differences in pre-test scores exist. Therefore, it is important to include the pre-test score as a covariate as this controls for the effect of the pre-test which co-varies with the dependent variable. In respect of the regression process utilised in this analysis, the following assumptions were made:

Independence. Keeping the classes for each course separate adequately addressed this condition.

Normality. Once the outliers (all subjects with an Improvement score of -40 or less) were removed, problems relating to normality were eliminated. Checks were made by plotting histograms of the standard residuals as well as measuring Skewness and Kurtosis. These measurements all fell well within the accepted interval of [-1; +1].

Homoscedasticity. Plots of the residuals were examined to ensure that the variance of the residuals was constant for all values of the independents.

Linearity. The rule of thumb for regression was used for this analysis to test for linearity, i.e. the standard deviation of the dependent must be greater than the standard deviation of the residuals.

 Proper specification of the model. In each case, variables added to the model were checked for correlation with other independents. Multi-collinearity (excessively high correlation) among independents was tested using the Tolerance and VIF tests.

RESULTS The sample comprised three separate first-year IS&T courses conducted in the first semester at a public university in South Africa relating to the topics of Databases, Networks and Spreadsheets - referred to in the analysis as Course A, Course B and Course C respectively. The same students were represented across all three courses and separate analyses were conducted for each course. Table 1 presents a summary of race, home language and gender performance for all courses.

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37 Table 1: Summary of cognitive test data by race, home language and gender Race

Home Language

Gender

Black

Indian

Other

African

English

Male

Female

Course A

Pre-Test Score

48.40

52.79

54.12

48.06

52.94

53.19

50.62

(Databases)

Post-Test Score

66.41

70.86

69.41

65.97

70.93

71.32

68.46

Improvement Score

18.01

18.07

15.29

17.91

17.98

18.14

17.84

Course B

Pre-Test Score

51.86

67.20

66.47

51.56

67.23

65.33

61.36

(Networks)

Post-Test Score

58.60

73.26

71.18

58.36

73.21

72.21

67.10

Improvement Score

6.74

6.07

4.71

6.80

5.98

6.87

5.73

Course C

Pre-Test Score

42.72

48.93

49.44

42.54

48.99

48.82

46.20

(Spreadsheets)

Post-Test Score

54.41

60.23

60.00

54.25

60.24

60.38

57.44

Improvement Score

11.69

11.30

10.56

11.72

11.25

11.56

11.25

Average

Pre-Test Score

47.66

56.31

56.68

47.39

56.39

55.78

52.73

(All Courses)

Post-Test Score

59.81

68.12

66.86

59.53

68.13

67.97

64.33

Improvement Score

12.15

11.81

10.19

12.14

11.74

12.19

11.61

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS In line with the findings of various international studies, the data presented herein suggests strongly that there are important culture-based differences in cognitive performance among first-year South African university students in the field of Information Systems and Technology (Calder & Ashbaugh, 2005; Dunn et al., 1990; Sheehan & Marcus, 1977; Stockly, 2009; Stroter, 2008; Wiggan, 2008). The following highlights some of the salient aspects of these findings related to race, home language and gender cognitive test performance. Pre- and post-test scores The performance of Black students was shown to be poorer on average than that of Indian students in respect of raw test performance across all the information systems and technology courses for which the study was conducted. Black students scored an average of 47.66% on pre-tests, while their Indian counterparts scored 56.31% (i.e. Black students scored on average 8.65% lower on pre-testing than Indian students). The scores for post-tests were similar: Black students scored on average 8.31% less than Indian students. The results for each of the specific courses did not vary much and all reflected the same finding that Indian students scored higher marks in both pre- and post-testing than their Black counterparts. For Course A (Databases), race related differences in pre- and post-test scores were not statistically significant, but Indians scored on average 4.39% higher than Black students on the pre-test and 4.45% higher on posttest. The results for Course B and C were statistically significant and showed a similar trend. For Course B

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38 (Networks), Indians scored an average of 15.14% more than Black students on the pre-test and 14.66% on the post-test. For Course C (Spreadsheets), Indians scored on average 6.21% more than Black students on pre-testing and averaged 5.82% more on the post-test. All of the Black students in this study spoke an African language as their home language and all of the Indian students spoke English as their home language. Given that home language and race are so closely related in the South African context, it is not surprising that the home language results closely reflected the race results. African language speakers scored an average of 47.39% on pre-testing and 59.53% on post-testing, whereas their English speaking counterparts scored 56.39% on pre-tests and an average of 68.13% on post-tests. English speaking students therefore out-performed African language speakers by an average of 9% on pre-tests and 8.6% on post-tests. All the results showing home language disparities in pre- and post-test performance for Course A, B and C were statistically significant. There were differences in performance for males and females. Males out-performed females in every case and for every course, but only in the case of Course B and C was this by a statistically significant margin. On average, males scored 55.78% on pre-tests while females scored 52.73% (a difference of 3.05%). On post-tests males scored 67.97% and females scored 64.33% (a difference of 3.64%). Improvement (gain) scores Interestingly, improvement (gain) scores presented a different picture to the raw (pre- and post-test) score results. Whereas the pre- and post-test score results showed a clear disparity in performance levels between races and home languages, for example, improvement scores were not different across race, home language or gender groupings (none of the results pertaining to improvement scores were statistically significant). Black students improved by an average of 12.15% while Indian students improved by 11.81% (the difference of 0.34% was not statistically significant). Similarly, African language speakers improved by an average of 12.14% compared with 11.74% for the English speaking students (a difference of only 0.4%). Males out-performed females by 0.59% on average across all courses.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION The analysis of the data for this study revealed an interesting difference in the results obtained when using the post-test score as a dependent variable and those for improvement score as the dependent variable. When using post-test score as the dependent variable, each of the independent, culture-related variables (race, home language and gender) were indeed shown to be predictors of cognitive test performance. However, no statistically significant results were achieved when using improvement score as the dependent variable. In other words, no significant race, home language or gender differences in improvement score were found. On the other hand, there were significant differences in performance by race, home language and gender in terms of the raw pre- and post-test results. For example, Black students scored on average 8.65% less on pre-tests than Indian students and 8.31% less on post-tests. African Language speaking students scored on average 8.6% less on post-tests than their Indian counterparts. In two of the three courses analysed, males out-performed females by a statistically significant margin. It is interesting that while Black students were out-performed in terms of the test scores, there were no significant differences in the extent to which students improved their marks over the period of the study (one entire semester). In fact, Black students improved by a slightly better margin (12.15%) than the Indian students (11.81%), despite their raw test scores being more than 8% lower than those for their Indian counterparts. This suggests that despite their disadvantaged educational background, Black students are The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


39 able to respond as effectively as more advantaged students to an equalised educational context once the ‘playing fields are levelled’ at university. The results and outputs referred to in this paper refer specifically to race, home language and gender related gaps in academic performance in the IS&T discipline. It should be noted, however, that this represents only part of a larger study that investigates culture-based academic performance disparities and the impact on cognitive learning of various social learning strategies that address the challenges of the multicultural classroom (Denny & Maharaj, 2012). Taken in isolation, this may appear to be of limited value and even merely to reinforce stereotypes. However, when the outputs of this paper are considered in the context of the larger study that it is a part of, it becomes clear that the findings of this research have the potential for higher education practitioners to investigate new teaching and learning methods, strategies and plans to fill the cultural gaps that continue to plague the South African educational landscape (Denny & Maharaj, 2012). Unpacking notions of culture and teaching and learning is important in the context of South Africa’s inability to date to shed the demons of the past two decades after the demise of apartheid. It is sobering and important to ask and answer the question: ‘Twenty years into democracy, have we addressed the race, home language and gender-based academic performance gap?’ The fact that a study such as this that reports so starkly on the continued existence of a culture-based academic performance gap that it appears to ‘reinforce stereotypes’ should be unsettling for anyone concerned with the future of South African education. Both the review of literature and the primary research and analysis conducted as part of this study confirm that the challenges of multicultural information systems and technology education are complex. There is no silver bullet that will quickly dispatch the culture-based academic achievement gaps that persist wherever various races, language groups and genders share classrooms and teachers. At the same time, we simply cannot afford to shy away from the complexities that characterise the challenge of multicultural education in South Africa. To a large extent, this challenge must focus on identifying effective strategies to address the race-based performance gap, and specifically the poor performance of Black students at institutions of higher learning. A plethora of studies have been, and continue to be, conducted internationally and in the South African context to identify effective ways of improving the learning experience in the multicultural classroom. These have included investigations into the impact of teacher student match (in terms of race, language and gender) on academic performance (Denny & Maharaj, 2012), the role of culture-based collective self-efficacy factors (Denny & Maharaj, 2012), the role of racial identity (Rucker and Gendrin, 2003), culturally appropriate immediacy strategies (Christophel, 1990; Rodriguez et al., 1996), and culture-sensitive multicultural pedagogy (Oates, 2003; Stroter, 2008; Horsford, 2010). Regardless of the specific focus of investigation or particular remedial pedagogical strategy that is proposed, a critical starting point for all investigations that relate to addressing the culture-based academic performance gap is an honest description of the status quo. It is appropriate, therefore, that this paper reports candidly on the status quo in respect to the culture-based IS&T academic performance gap at one public university in South Africa. However, culture-based performance gaps in IS&T education do not have to be accepted as inevitable in view of the socio-economic challenges that plague South Africa. As noted above, many of the studies referred to in the literature review above provide reason for optimism and report varying degrees of success in enacting pedagogical strategies aimed at closing the culture-based academic performance gap (Denny & Maharaj, 2012) As South Africa slowly, but surely, unravels and redresses the disparities of the past, it is vital that intensity be maintained in respect of efforts to maximise the return on investment that all stakeholders achieve for the vast sums of money that are being spent on education and skills development annually. Moreover, with the information and communication technology sector set to grow dramatically over the next decade and demanding more skilled professionals in the workforce, identifying factors that contribute positively to and which maximise the impact of the learning The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


40 experience in the information systems and technology classroom becomes, not only a desirable, but a critical component of the development of the sector as a whole.

REFERENCES Anastasi, A. (1954) Psychological Testing. New York: Macmillan. Badat, S. (2010) ‘The challenges of transformation in higher education and training institutions in South Africa’ http://www.dbsa.org/Research/Higher%20Education%20and%20Training/The%20challenges%20 of%20transformation%20in%20higher%20education%20and%20training%20institutions%20in%20 South%20Africa%20by%20Saleem%20Badat.pdf (Accessed 11 November 2011). Cafolla, R. (1987) ‘Piagetian formal operations and other cognitive correlates of achievement in computer programming’ Journal of Educational Technology Systems 16(1) pp.45-55. Calder, A.M. & Ashbaugh, E.L. (2005) ‘Transfer of Learning through Gender and Ethnicity’ AIP Conference Proceedings 790(1) pp.39-41. doi: 10.1063/1.2084696. Christophel, D.M. (1990) ‘The relationship among teacher immediacy behaviors, student motivation, and learning’ Communication Education 37 pp.323-340. Clement, C.A., Kurland, D.M., Mawby, R. & Pea, R.D. (1986) ‘Analogical reasoning and computer programming’ Journal of Educational Computing Research 2(4) pp.473-486. Cohen, A.B. (2009) ‘Many forms of culture’ American Psychologist 64(3) pp.194-204. doi: 10.1037/ a0015308. Connor, H., Sussex Univ, B.I.f.E.S. & et al. (1996) Ethnic Minority Graduates: Differences by Degrees. Report 309. Crombie, G., Abarbanel, T. & Anderson, C. (2000) ‘All-female computer science: The positive effects of single gender classes’ The Science Teacher March 2000 pp.40-43. Crombie, G., Abarbanel, T. & Trinneer, A. (2002) ‘All female classes in high school computer science: positive effects in three years of data’ Journal of Educational Computing Research 27(4) pp.385-409. Denny, P. (2012) ‘Maximising return on investment in IT training: a South African perspective’, PhD thesis, School of Management, Information Technology and Governance, College of Law and Management Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal. De Wet, C. & Wolhuter, C. (2009) ‘A transitiological study of some South African educational issues’ South African Journal of Education 29 pp.359-376. DuBow, W. (2011) NCWIT Scorecard: A report on the status of women in information technology. Boulder: NCWIT. Dunn, R., Gemake, J., Jalali, F., Zenhausern, R., Quinn, P. & Spiridakis, J. (1990) ‘Cross-Cultural Differences in Learning Styles of Elementary-Age Students From Four Ethnic Backgrounds’ Journal of Multicultural Counseling & Development 18(2) pp.68-93. The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


41 Fisher, A. & Margolis, J. (2002) ‘Unlocking the clubhouse: The Carnegie Mellon experience’ SIGCSE Bulletin 34(2) pp.79-83. Hanushek, E.A. & Rivkin, S.G. (2009) ‘Harming the Best: How Schools Affect the Black-White Achievement Gap’ Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 28(3) pp.366-393. Herring, C. (2009) ‘Does diversity pay?: Race, gender, and the business case for diversity’ American Sociological Review 74(2) pp.208-224. Horsford, S. (2010) ‘Black Superintendents on Educating Black Students in Separate and Unequal Contexts’ Urban Review 42 pp.58-79. Howie, S., Venter, E. & Van Staden, S. (2008) ‘The effect of multilingual policies on performance and progression in reading literacy in South African primary schools’ Educational Research and Evaluation 14 pp.551-560. ISETT SETA. (2010) Sector skills plan 2011-2016. http://www.isett.org.za/isett/downloads/Isett_Seta_ Sector_Skills_Plan_2011_2016_Sept_2010_Version_v1p1.zip (Accessed 23 November 2011). Jagacinski, C.M., LeBold, W.K. & Salvendy, G. (1988) ‘Gender differences in persistence in computerrelated fields’ Journal of Educational Computing Research 4(2) pp.185-202. Kafai, Y.B. (1998) ‘Video game designs by children: Consistency and variability of gender differences’ In J. Cassell & H. Jenkins (Eds.) From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games. Boston, MA: M.I.T. Press. pp.90-114. Kagan, D. (1988) ‘Learning how to program or use computers: A review of six applied studies’ Educational Technolog 28(3) pp.49-51. Katz, S., Aronis, J., Allbritton, D., Wilson, C. & Soffa, M.L. (2003) ‘Gender and Race in Predicting Achievement in Computer Science’ IEEE Technology and Society Magazine (Fall 2003) pp.20-27. Kirkup, G., Zalevski, A., Maruyama, T. & Batool, I. (2010) ‘Women and men in science, engineering and technology’ The UK statistics guide 2010. Bradford: UKRC. Koohang, A.A. & Byrd, D.M. (1987) ‘A study of selected variables and future study’ Library and Information Science Research 9(1) pp.214-288. Leslie, D. (2005) ‘Why People from the UK’s Minority Ethnic Communities Achieve Weaker Degree Results than Whites’ Applied Economics 37(6) pp.619-632. http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/ routledge/00036846.html Light, J. (2001) ‘Rethinking the digital divide’ Harvard Educational Review 71(4) pp.709-733. Margolis, J. (2001) Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing. Boston, MA: M.I.T. Press. Markus, H.R. (2008) ‘Pride, prejudice, and ambivalence: Toward a unified theory of race and ethnicity’ American Psychologist 63(8) pp.651-670. doi: 10.1037/0003-066x.63.8.651.

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42 Moorman, P. & Johnson, E. (2003) ‘Still a stranger here: Attitudes among secondary school students towards computer science’ Paper presented at the ITiCSE 2003 Conference, Thessaloniki, Greece. Naylor, R.A. & Smith, J. (2004) ‘Determinants of Educational Success in Higher Education’ In G. Johnes & J. Johnes (Eds.) International handbook on the economics of education. Cheltenham, U.K. and Northampton, Mass. pp.415-461. Neal, D. (2006) ‘Why has black-white skill convergence stopped?’ In E.A. Hanushek & F. Welch (Eds.) Handbook of the economics of education. Amsterdam: North Holland. pp.511-576. Oates, G.L. (2003) ‘Teacher-Student Racial Congruence, Teacher Perceptions, and Test Performance’ Social Science Quarterly 84 pp.508-525. Payton, F.C. (2003) ‘Rethinking the digital divide’ Communications of the ACM 46(6) pp.89-91. Richardson, J.T.E. (2009) ‘The role of ethnicity in the attainment and experiences of graduates in distance education’ Higher Education 58(3) pp.321-338. doi: 10.1007/s10734-008-9196-3. Roberts, T.S. (2006) ‘The Use of Multiple Choice Tests for Formative and Summative Assessment’ Paper presented at the Eighth Australasian Computing Education Conference (ACE2006), Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Rodriguez, J.I., Plax, T.G. & Kearney, P. (1996) ‘Clarifying the relationship between teacher nonverbal immediacy and student cognitive learning: Affective learning as the central causal mediator’ Communication Education 45 pp.293-305. Rucker, M.L. & Gendrin, D.M. (2003) ‘The Impact of Ethnic Identification on Student Learning in the HBCU Classroom’ Journal of Instructional Psychology 30 pp.207-215. Sheehan, D.S. & Marcus, M. (1977) ‘The Effects of Teacher Race and Student Race on Vocabulary and Mathematics Achievement’ The Journal of Educational Research 70(3) pp.123-126. Stockly, S. (2009) ‘Is Race a Determinant of Student Performance in Economics?’ Review of Black Political Economy 36(3/4) pp.181-195. doi: 10.1007/s12114-009-9046-2. Stroter, A.D. (2008) The Effects of Teacher-Student Racial and Ethnic Congruence on Student Math Learning. Doctor of Philosophy in Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia. Takooshian, H. (2010) Rediscovering differential psychology? American Psychologist 65(1) pp.57-58. doi: 10.1037/a0017494. Taylor, H.G., & Mounfield, L.C. (1994) ‘Exploring the relationship between prior computing experience and gender on success in college computer science’ Journal of Educational Computing Research 11(4) pp.291-306. The College Board. (2012) AP report to the nation. http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/ public/pdf/ap/rtn/AP-Report-to-the-Nation.pdf (Accessed 21 February 2012).

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43 Volet, S.E. & Styles, I.M. (1992) ‘Predictors of study management and performance on a first-year computer course: The significance of students’ study goals and perceptions’ Journal of Educational Computing Research 8(4) pp.423-449. Webb, N.M. (1984) ‘Microcomputer learning in small groups: Cognitive requirements and group processes’ Journal of Educational Computing Research 76 pp.1076-1088. Wiggan, G. (2008) ‘From opposition to engagement: Lessons from high achieving African American students’ The Urban Review 40(4) pp.317-349. doi: 10.1007/s11256-007-0067-5. Zhang, L. (2006) ‘Does student-teacher thinking style match/mismatch matter in students’ achievement?’ Educational Psychology 26(3) pp.395-409. doi: 10.1080/01443410500341262.

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44 Well-designed communities of practice (CoPs) in the ODeL environment: students’ perspectives1 Maria Jakovljevic - University of South Africa, South Africa Sheryl Buckley - University of South Africa, South Africa Melanie Bushney - University of South Africa, South Africa

ABSTRACT Forming communities of practice is an important approach for knowledge sharing and well-designed communities of practice may provide mechanisms for innovation in Open, Distance and eLearning environments. However, the specific guidance to establish communities of practice in higher educational institutions does not always exist. The question further remains how willing are the students to share knowledge within communities of practice at institutions of higher education in order to empower learning and knowledge sharing within those institutions. The aim of this article is to explore the attitudes of 502 students at an open distance e-learning higher education institution or university towards communities of practice. The study applied a quantitative approach using a questionnaire and descriptive and inferential statistics to analyse the responses. The students were invited to engage in learning activities within communities of practice. They were free to decline to participate in this research study, and could withdraw their participation from the study at any time. Returning the completed questionnaire to the researchers indicated their willingness to participate. They preferred online forms of communications. The findings can be used to analyse relationships among communities of practice knowledge-sharing enablers and students’ willingness to engage in communities of practice processes. This study described several implications essential to successful learning and knowledge sharing through communities of practice.1

INTRODUCTION Increasing numbers of ill-prepared students with inadequate study skills are entering open and distance e-learning (ODeL) environments and performing their study tasks in socially isolated contexts. ODeL in general involves the use of online tools and infrastructure that are currently not well-designed to satisfy the needs of students with varying learning skills and experiences (Maor, 2003; Fozdar & Kumar, 2007; Ruey, 2010; Pitsoe & Maila, 2011). Although students are at the centre of an outcomes-based learning system, it is debatable whether students’ needs have adequately been premeditated in this current ODeL learning system. One way to address students’ needs is to form communities of practice (CoPs) in higher education. CoPs can be described as groups of like-minded, interacting students who analyse, build, create and share knowledge in their domain (Burk, 2005) through a practice, an identity and a joint enterprise (Wenger, 2000; Nickols, 2003). 1 Date of Submission 6 December 2013 Date of Acceptance 28 April 2014

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45 To examine CoPs in higher education, a study has been initiated as part of a Women in Research (WiR) longitudinal action research project that consists of six phases: developing a theoretical framework and explicit criteria for well-designed CoPs; exploring students’ preliminary attitudes towards CoPs; forming pilot CoPs; evaluating pilot CoPs groups; implementing action research to pilot CoPs; and applying a CoP model (CoPM) to other groups. The aim of this article is to highlight phase two of the study namely exploring students’ preliminary attitudes towards CoPs in an ODeL higher education in South Africa. The quality of ODeL education is important to its stakeholders and well-designed CoPs can invite students and even evoke innovative activities. Moreover, the researchers of this study are of the opinion that the current learning management system at an ODeL institution or university has both advantages and disadvantages for forming CoPs because most collaboration is text-based. However, the researchers believe that most mainstream learning challenges and desired practices at an ODeL institution neglect the new trends in learning and knowledge sharing through social communication means such as communities of practice (CoPs). Furthermore, Baran (2006), Gannon-Leary & Fontainha (2007) and Wubbels (2007) advocate more research about CoPs. In a similar vein Petersen (2007) cited by Gannon-Leary and Fontainha (2007) holds that the concepts of learning in CoPs need to be further investigated. The researchers investigated students’ insights on how to invite the sustained interaction that could contribute to the enrichment of their body of knowledge, and widen a peer network and decision-making skills. The study examined how, in the ODeL education setting, existing practices and online systems influence the scope of situated learning that is crucial for CoPs. The learning management system of this ODeL institution aims to assist students to communicate with their lecturers, with other students about their studies and with the administrative departments of this institution and participate in online activities. Via the online learning management system, registered students are able to submit assignments, gain access to the library functions and various learning resources and download study material. They can participate in online discussions of relevance to their module. Furthermore, the learning management system consists of the following options: announcements, official study material, sign up function (e.g. for a study school session), blogs and self-assessment surveys to mention just a few. There are varieties of technologies used through the online learning management system in addition to multimedia, video and audio conferencing, telephone, SMSs and MMSs via cell phones, discussion forums or chat facilities to support ODeL (Ferreira & Venter, 2011). However, ‘…the throughput rate of students is still unsatisfactory’ (Ferreira & Venter, 2011: 86), and the institution’s ‘…ODeL should consider designing teaching and learning activities within a reflexive inquiry framework…’ (Coombs, 2000 cited by Pitsoe & Maila, 2011: 485). The main purpose of this article is to determine the students’ opinions, perceptions and readiness for engagement within CoPs in order to empower learning and knowledge sharing within the ODeL institution. Furthermore, the purpose is to set a framework for forming CoPs as the next phase of the WiR project using networked technologies as remote social collaboration tools and World Wide Web (WWW) communication means. Based on the preceding, the specific objectives of this article are to:

1. identify students’ willingness and perceived benefits with regard to CoP

2.  discuss team preparedness and collaborative technologies that can positively influence CoP learning teams

3. identify and discuss key communication modes which can support CoP learning environments.

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46 To achieve the objectives, the following research questions are set:

1.

What are the opinions of students in terms of their willingness to share knowledge and experiences?

2. What perceived benefits of CoPs exist among students at the ODeL institution?

3. What are the opinions of students in terms of team preparedness and collaborative technologies that can positively influence CoP learning teams?

4. What communication modes are appropriate for CoP learning environments?

In order to achieve a methodological triangulation and improve validity and reliability of results the researchers proposed to test and prove the following null hypotheses: H-01: There is no difference in terms of students’ willingness to engage in communities of practice within School of Computing and School of Management Sciences. H-02: There is no difference between perceived benefits of communities of practice among students in School of Computing and School of Management Sciences.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK FOR COPS IN ODEL ENVIRONMENTS The theoretical framework will discuss the concepts of CoPs and ODeL, the barriers to learning in ODeL environments and knowledge sharing within online CoPs and finally, the appropriateness of current technology for ODeL CoPs. Defining communities of practice CoPs have been described as ‘groups of people informally bound together by shared expertise and passion for a joint enterprise’ (Wenger & Snyder, 2000: 139) with similar task responsibilities that solve authentic problems and promote interdisciplinary knowledge and practice across different groups (Wick, 2000 cited by Johnson, 2001). This definition agrees with that of Barab, Makinster & Scheckler (2003: 238). They view a CoP as a ‘persistent, sustained social network of individuals who share and develop an overlapping knowledge base, set of beliefs, values, history, and experience focused on a common practice and/or mutual enterprise’. Wenger and Snyder (2000) identify three structural elements of CoPs: domain, community, and practice. The domain represents common ground where participants share their ideas and knowledge (Gunawardena, Hermans, Sanchez, Richmond, Bohley & Tuttle, 2009). The community is a group of people who learn and interact together, building relationships that result in a feeling of belonging and a mutual commitment (Wenger, 1998a, b). The practice is the specific knowledge the community develops, shares, and maintains (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002). Wenger & Snyder (2000) articulate some CoPs dimensions: enterprise (level of learning energy); mutuality (the depth of social capital); and repertoire (the degree of self-awareness) while Hildreth, Kimble & Wright, (2000: 35) point out that ‘…a community has a common set of interests, is self-generating, is self-selecting, and is not necessarily co-located’. CoPs groups interact in virtual and off-line contexts. Virtual CoPs include facilitators and management support and ‘they are all created for a specific purpose…’ (Lewis & Allan, 2005). Although online environments make synchronous or asynchronous communication possible (Baran, 2006), developing online CoPs is more time-consuming than co-located CoPs (Lai, Pratt Anderson & Stigter, 2006). Computer-mediated communication occurs mainly in online CoPs but in co-located CoPs mainly face-to-face communication occurs.

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47 Open, distance and eLearning paradigm Distance learning is a process whereby the student learns while separated from the tutor/teacher (Keegan, 1996; Evans, & Nation, 1989; Trentin, 2002). Open learning is any form of learning with strong emphasis on flexibility and learner centeredness (Rowntree, 1982). E-learning focuses on the intersection of education, teaching, and learning with ICT (Wasko & Faraj, 2000; Roberts, 2013). The structure of an open and distance education paradigm gives students the greatest possible control over time, place and pace of learning (Taiwo, 2011; Moore & Thompson, 1990; Morgan, 1995; Siddiqui, 2008; Honeyman & Miller, 1993). However, ODeL should be blended, underpinned and guided by the principles of reflectivity and situated learning contributing to students’ critical and reflective thinking (Pitsoe & Maila, 2011). Additionally, adequate levels of cognitive, social, and teaching presence place a premium on quality student-student interaction that allows for asynchronous reflection, sharing and discussion (Moore & Thompson, 1990; Dzakiria & Idrus, 2003). Learning does not always occur smoothly in ODeL environments. Various barriers to learning exist, which will be discussed in the next section. Barriers to learning in ODeL environments Recent research (Fozdar & Kumar, 2007; Ferreira & Venter, 2011; Nage-Sibande, van Vollenhoven & Hendrikz, 2011; Pitsoe & Maila, 2011) highlight multiple barriers in ODeL environments. Ferreira & Venter (2011) specify that students at this ODeL institution prefer face-to-face contacts, more guidance from lecturers, tutorial letters emailed to them timeously and training in the use of Internet. Similarly, Fozdar & Kumar (2007) cited by Ferreira and Venter (2011: 89) stipulate the following barriers: a ‘lack of personal contact and immediate feedback from lecturers on work done; sense of isolation; precourse orientation to help with management of studies; tutor support; improved information and formative advice.’ Nage-Sibande et al. (2011) indicate barriers such as the use of technology (e.g. Web-CT and Blackboard) as well as other limitations: poor support services in Botswana higher education distance learning, a poor learning environment, institutional attitudes, stigma and a low opinion of distance learning in public, tutors’ guidance missing, restrictive plans and limited resources (Nage-Sibande et. al., 2011). While students required training in the use of Internet (Ferreira & Venter, 2011), Ruey (2010: 712) recorded a lack of students’ technological skills as a hindrance to effective online learning. Maor (2003: 130) also noted that addressing technical problems in online learning was time-consuming that requires a heavy commitment from both lecturer and student. Mbati (2012) and Goos, Galbraith and Renshaw (2002) point out the importance of social presence and metacognition in distance learning such as the ability to socialise, the opportunity to create a social presence, and the motivation to engage on a social level. Cultivating knowledge sharing and exchange within online communities of practice According to Lave & Wenger (1991) CoPs are ‘effective loci’ for the creation and sharing of knowledge and are able to retain dynamics and evolve knowledge within a real-time process. This is important as education in a higher education environment has become progressively marketised (Goodson, 2005), demanding innovative products and multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1993). CoP members engage in shared experiences over time, and cultivate a commitment to shared understanding (Eckert, 2006) developing new products through peer interaction and expert-to-apprentice interaction The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


48 (Pan & Scarbrough, 1998). Pan & Scarbrough (1998 cited by Pan & Scarbrough, 2010) highlight three layers of interaction: infrastructure, infostructure and infoculture. CoPs interactions are based on situated learning that emphasises apprenticeship, coaching, collaboration, multiple practices and the articulation of learning skills, stories and technology (Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989). An instructor or a CoP group leader (a moderator, coach or mentor), acts as a gentle guide or facilitator, that includes the instructor’s duty of opening the community environment for discussion of the following: (1) goals and criteria for meeting the goals, (2) evaluation of whether the goals have been met, and (3) peer evaluation and self-evaluation (Bielaczyc & Collins, 1999; Rogers, 2000). Within CoPs knowledge development can be continuous, cyclical and fluid (Eckert, 2006) and knowledge sharing depends on individual characteristics, including experience, values, motivation, and beliefs (HsiuFen, 2007). Student-student interaction is also critical for skill proficiency needed for collaborative or cooperative tasks (Anderson & Garrison, 1995; Sharratt & Usoro, 2003) contributing to knowledge sharing and exchange. Sharing, collaborating and learning from one another are the central activities in a knowledge society. Knowing each other is an important aspect for success in online collaboration and knowledge transfer (Wilson, 1996; Fischer, 1998; Hammond, 2006; Borthick & Jones, 2000; Kehrwald, 2008; Zhang, Peng & Hung, 2009; Jakovljevic, Buckley & Bushney, 2013). Appropriateness of current technology for ODeL communities of practice Combining wikis with several other social networking applications (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, and Linkedin) creates a powerful environment for communication and learning (Gunawardena et al., 2009). Web 2.0 tools foster interaction, collaboration, and contribution (Siemens, 2004). These tools allow synchronous and asynchronous communication, access to and from geographically isolated communities and international information sharing (Dela Pena-Bandalaria, 2007; Gannon-Leary & Fontainha, 2007). In addition, Gunawardena et al. (2009) propose the use of ‘Community Walk’, a community mapping site, for creating informational, interactive, and engaging maps of the context and location of community members. ‘The combination of content (i.e., text, images and animation), scaffolding (i.e., especially with respect to Web-based technology), plus text-based communication can be suitable environments for emerging communities of practice’ (Johnson, 2001: 51-53). This author points out that web-based audio and video conferencing are currently inadequate for group conversation on a regular basis (Johnson, 2001). With email communications and other text-based communications short and superficial messages cause frustration (Hammond, 2006). Given the aforementioned, students need to be proficient in technology to participate in CoPs. An appropriate research design is required to investigate how to form CoPs in this ODeL higher education institution to encourage and stimulate learning and to encourage the sharing of knowledge. The research design will be discussed next.

RESEARCH DESIGN The research design will discuss the research approach, sampling and data gathering method, trustworthiness, questionnaire design and analysis of the data.

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49 Research approach This research can be described as a quantitative case study (Creswell, 1994; Yin, 1994; Merriam, 1998) as the learning experience of students is investigated relating to a specific event in a bounded context. The quantitative research approach allows researchers to collect quantifiable data in challenge to deliver neutral results (Creswell, 1994). Sampling and data gathering method A non-probability sampling approach (Patton, 1980: 104) was used through convenience sampling. Participants from the two groups of undergraduate and postgraduate students of the School of Computing (SoC) and School of Management Sciences (SmS) presented a purposive convenient sample, as they were available and inexpensive to this study. A survey was undertaken with 502 students registered for undergraduate and postgraduate diplomas and degrees at the SoC and SmS. The survey focused on a particular group of 230 females and 272 males of the whole student population at both schools. An experienced business analyst conducted an online questionnaire using an existing database of undergraduate and postgraduate students at this ODeL institution. Students received an invitation letter to participate in the research project. The questionnaire queried topics such as: a willingness to work in teams; tacit knowledge exchange; influence on social status, relationship and trust building; enabling study skills and decision making and finally, empowerment of innovative opportunities. Assessment of trustworthiness Participation was strictly voluntary and students were free to decline to participate in this research study, or they could withdraw their participation from the study at any time. Students were informed that anonymity will be protected in any reports, research papers, thesis documents, and presentations that result from this work. The students completed a questionnaire, which they returned to the researchers electronically. Returning the completed questionnaire to the researchers indicated their willingness to participate. The issues of credibility and reliability in the questionnaire design were considered and incorporated (Creswell, 1994, 2008; Patton, 1980). Questionnaire design The questionnaire was divided into sections A - demographic information (gender, age, year of study, nationality) and B - five categories/measures, namely: willingness; team preparedness; communication modes; perceived benefits, and who benefits from CoPs. If these categories could be successfully addressed, it was assumed that students would participate in a community of practice. In total the questionnaire consisted of 27 questions and the variety of questions contributed to the richness of the preliminary data by revealing the students’ perceptions and opinions with respect to CoPs. A five point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree was applied in the questionnaire. The concept of COPs was defined in the questionnaire in the beginning. The responses to selected questions were used to determine what percentages of the students were willing to engage in CoPs, and what percentages of the students were prepared for team work in CoPs. Furthermore, frequencies and percentages were used to determine perceived benefits and what kind of communication modes they would prefer. Analysis of data and results Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse the students’ responses. The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


50

A. Frequencies of demographics data, gender, age and year of study

A total of 38.8% of the respondents were registered at the SoC and 61.21% were registered at the SmS at this ODeL institution. The nationality of a large percentage (70.0%) of the respondents was black South African; white South African (15.9%); Indian (5.0%); and 8.5% coloured South African. Only 11.4% of students were enrolled in the fourth year, while 27.7% were enrolled in the first year of study and 0.8% students were enrolled for a master degree. See Figure 1 showing histogram of year of study by faculty below. Figure 1: Histogram of year of study by faculty 24%

20%

Percent of obs

16%

12%

8%

4%

0%

First Second Third Fourth Other year year year year

School of Computing

First Second Third Fourth Other year year year year

School of Management sciences Year of study

The percentages from descriptive statistics reflect a good sample, gender is almost 50/50 and schools’ membership is skewed in the ratio 40/60 (40= SoC), (60= SmS). Most of the respondents in the survey were male (54.37%) while the female respondents constituted 45.63%. See Figure 2 histogram of gender by faculty and Tables 1 and 2 on faculty membership. Figure 2: Histogram of gender by faculty 37% 32%

Percent of obs

28% 24% 20% 16% 12% 8% 7% 0%

Female

Male

School of Computing

Female

Male

School of Management sciences Gender

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51 Table 1: Faculty_membership * Gender Cross tabulation Count Gender 1 61 165 226

Faculty_membership 1 2 Total

Total 191 302 493

2 130 137 267

Table 2: Faculty membership * Year of_Study Cross tabulation Count 1 85 54 139

Faculty_membership 1 2 Total

Year of Study 2 3 48 23 88 97 136 120

4 173 281 454

Total 191 302 493

The respondents were between the ages of 19 and 57 (97.5%). Of these, 34% were aged between 19 and 25 years; 36% between 26 and 35 years; 16% between 36 and 43 years; and 10% between 43 and 57 years. The age frequency distribution of respondents was relatively uneven with the mean 30.67. See Figure 3. Figure 3: Age of participants 50

Frequency

40

30

20

10

0 10

20

30

40

Age

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50

60


52 The following paragraphs present the percentages and corresponding interpretations of students’ responses in terms of the section B of the CoP survey. a. Willingness Q5.1: [I am prepared to share my knowledge and experience with others in the same field] 48.2% of the respondents expressed their readiness and willingness to share their knowledge and experiences with others.

Q5.2: [I would like to share my unique and effective study methods with others]

44.5% of students would like to share their unique study methods with team members indicating their self-motivated willingness to collaborate with peers.

Q5.3: [I would like to feel free to discuss my studies with others]

Students expressed a need to discuss their study-related issues with others. Less than half felt isolated in an online environment as depicted in Figure 4. Figure 4: Knowledge and experience sharing

50

Percent

40

30 48.2 20

43.0

10 7.2 1.2

0

0.4

Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Disagree Agree I am prepared to share my knowledge and experience with others in the same field.

b. Team preparedness

Q6.1: [I am a team player]

The students think that they are good team players with more than half expressing that they have team skills and preparedness to collaborate within CoPs groups as displayed in Figure 5.

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53 Figure 5: Team player

50

Percent

40

30

41.6

20

36.1

10

0

17.3 2.0

3.0

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Neutral

Agree

I am a team player

Strongly Agree

Q6.2: [The character of the other members plays a role while sharing knowledge]

45.8% of students share the opinion that the character of their team members (e.g. fairness, reliability, honesty, attitude and ethical values) plays a role in collaborative activities.

Q6.3: [Do you prefer to work alone?]

Only 22.4% of students prefer to work alone. It seems that students feel prepared for the online collaborative learning mode. Social learning is a desired learning paradigm since the separation of teacher and student (Keegan, 1996) ‘has a tendency to reduce the sense of community, giving rise to feelings of isolation, distraction, and lack of personal attention’ (Besser & Donahue, 1996; Twigg, 1997 cited by Rovai, 2002). c. Communication mode [Face-to-face] [Online] [Other]

Q7.1 [Which forms of communication would you most use as a participant in a CoP?]

32.9% students prefer a face-to-face form of communication while 67.1% prefer online communication.

Face-to-face communication is especially important for initial contact between community members, to establish rapport (Borthick & Jones, 2000). Thus, a significant number of students prefer online communication. Online environments make synchronous or asynchronous communication possible (Baran, 2006) and students feel less isolated in an online environment. Few students preferred emails (0.8%), SMS and phone communication (0.2%). d. Perceived Benefits

Q8.1: [By sharing knowledge, my knowledge base will increase]

The respondents (52.6%) believe that knowledge sharing and exchange will contribute to their new and enriched knowledge base.

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54  Q8.2: [Sharing my personal knowledge and experiences will maintain or increase my status amongst my peers]. The perceptions of 40.2% of the students indicate that social status and therefore self-confidence will be improved leading to more social engagement and success of learning.

Q8.3: [Sharing my personal knowledge and experiences helps build trust among peers]

More than half of the students have perceptions that sharing their personal knowledge and experiences with peers contribute towards trust building. ‘The lack of trust and the formality of many business practices would work against knowledge sharing’ (Standing & Benson, 2002: 647). See Figure 6. Figure 6: Trust building

60

50

Percent

40

30 51.3 20 27.9 10

0

17.6 0.8

2.4

Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Disagree Agree Sharing my personal knowledge and experiences helps build trust among peers

 Q8.4: [We all possess certain tacit knowledge – unique knowledge. Sharing with others will make us more effective] 48.5% of the respondents in both schools are confident that possessing tacit knowledge is valuable; sharing tacit knowledge within the contexts of CoPs could contribute to their knowledge growth. Currently, students are not working in CoPs; they are socially isolated, expecting to work in an improved learning environment such as CoPS. Learning occurs when individuals create new knowledge by combining explicit knowledge (for example, books and the internet) with their prior knowledge, normally in tacit form (in a person’s head) according to Morse (2000: 426) and Standing & Benson (2002).

Q8.5: [I will learn more from peers about new developments in my field than from reading literature]

Students perceive the benefits of reading literature as well as the benefits of interacting with peers which was less than half in terms of new developments in study fields.

Q8.6: [Associating voluntarily with others to share knowledge and friendships can develop]

51.3% of the respondents think that CoPs provide abundant opportunities for a friendship necessary for reflective learning.

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55

Q8.7: [Since voluntary, I can opt out any time]

CoPs are voluntary allowing its members to pull out any time. The sense of freedom is necessary for the mobility of students. This is visible as 44.9% of students felt free to opt out.

Q8.8: [Sharing the same identity creates a strong bond amongst the members of CoP]

 The students (47.8%) felt that belonging promotes bonding as a prerequisite for modelling and scaffolding during their learning experience. Wenger (1998b cited by Kathryn, 2002: 223) describes three modes of belonging: engagement, imagination, and alignment. Q8.9: [CoPs are created out of passion for one’s work and they ‘die’ from lack of it] Only 38.9% support this statement.It seems that students do not recognise the importance of passion that spontaneously develops within CoPs. Wenger & Snyder (2000: 139) point out that ‘…people are informally bound together by shared expertise and passion for a joint enterprise’.  Q8.10: [Sharing my personal knowledge and experiences will not be detrimental to my own performance (e.g. detracts from doing other work)]

49.1% further indicate that CoP activities are not seen as a burden for their other tasks and performance.

Q8.11: [I have personal knowledge and experiences that would be important for my peers to have]

43.7% students share opinions that sharing knowledge and experiences is necessary for their peers.

 Q8.12: [Sharing my personal knowledge and experiences will increase my power to influence decisions] Decision-making skills are powerful leadership skills due to frequent student-student discussions and interactions (44.1%). The findings indicate that students perceive benefits of forming CoPs at the ODeL institution. They are willing to participate in communities of practice due to its embedded challenges, a voluntary nature and a wider communication network. Furthermore, the findings offer insight into students’ preliminary perceptions about CoPs before an infrastructure is developed across the ODeL institution in terms of forming CoPs and a supporting more focused well-designed communities of practice.

B. Comparative analysis between two schools, School of Computing and School of Management Sciences

The constructs Willingness and Perceived benefits were compared between SoC and SmS. The statistical tests, Cronbach’s alpha, Levene’s test for equality of variances and T-test for equality of means were applied on constructs Willingness and Perceived benefits. Due to the limitations of this paper other constructs such as team preparedness and communication mode were not compared between the two schools.

i.

Cronbach’s alpha

It was necessary to determine construct validity in term of its appropriateness of inferences made on the basis of measurements; whether the questionnaire measured the intended constructs. Cronbach’s alpha was applied to see if the questions from Willingness and Perceived benefits were reliable measures. Both had values greater than 0.8, thus the questions did measure the constructs reliably. The factor score was calculated for each construct by calculating the mean over all the questions for each respondent.

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56 Since the questionnaire contained values 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 that are discrete values it was not possible to use statistical tests needed for comparison without converting the discrete values into continuous values needed to perform hypothesis tests. The hypothesis tests were conducted for each construct using school membership to split the sample into two. Thus a two sample independent hypothesis tests were used. This is discussed in the next section.

ii.

Hypothesis testing: Summary of hypothesis tests for factor scores

Factors scores were calculated from the two constructs: Willingness and Perceived benefits. The results are as follows: Willingness Levene’s Test for Equality of Variances specify that p-values = 0.373, thus variances are assumed to be equal. Hypothesis H-01has been accepted. T-test for Equality of Means indicates that p-value = 0.106, thus the factor score mean values do not differ between the two Schools at the significance level of 0.05. See Table 3. Table 3: Willingness – independent sample test Levene’s Test for Equality of Variances F

FS_Willingness Equal variances assumed Equal variances not assumed

.796

Sig.

.373

t-test for Equality of Means

t

df

Sig. (2tailed)

Mean Std Error Difference Difference

95% Confidence Interval of the Difference Lower

Upper

1.621

492

.106

.11267

.06953

-.02393

.24928

1.669

444.745

.096

.11267

.06752

-.02002

.24537

P-value for Gender = 0.066; H-01 is not rejected. This one is close to the rejection region so there may be a difference that can be tested by future research. P-value for Undergraduate and Postgraduate = 0.745. Thus, H-01 is not rejected at the significance level of 0.05. Perceived benefits Levene’s Test for Equality of Variances indicate that p-values = 0.750, thus variances are assumed to be equal. Hypothesis H-02has been accepted at the significance level of 0.05. T-test for Equality of Means with p-value = 0.166 indicate that the factor score mean values do not differ between the two Schools at the significance level of 0.05. Thus, Hypothesis H-02has been accepted. See Table 4.

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57 Table 4: Perceived benefits – independent sample test Levene’s Test for Equality of Variances F

FS_Perceived_benefits Equal variances assumed

.101

Equal variances not assumed

Sig.

.750

t-test for Equality of Means

t

df

Sig. (2tailed)

Mean Std Error Difference Difference

95% Confidence Interval of the Difference Lower

Upper

-1.386

493

.166

-.06675

.04816

-.16137

.02787

-1.385

405.641

.167

-.06675

.04819

-.16148

.02799

P-value for Faculty = 0.166 and p-value for Gender = 0.078. Hypothesis H-02 has been accepted at the significance level of 0.05. This applies to undergraduate and postgraduate where p-value = 0.449. Thus there is enough evidence to conclude that the factor scores for both Willingness and Perceived benefits are found to be equal across schools, gender and undergraduate or postgraduate studies.

DISCUSSION This article examined the opinions, perceptions and readiness of students in two schools, SoC and SmS at an ODeL institution in terms of CoPs. Data from the questionnaire were evaluated for quantitative differences. The results of the quantitative analyses showed that students’ were willing to engage in learning activities within CoPs (as an answer to research question 1). Students preferred online forms of communications perceiving many CoPs benefits (trust building, knowledge base increase, tacit knowledge exchange, passion, decision making, bonding, friendship, etc.), (in response to research question 2). The results also indicate that students’ team preparedness and willingness to use online collaborative technologies could enable the ODeL institution to invest in these social learning challenges (in response to research question 3). Additionally, the results show that students from the SoC did not find CoP of more use since they were more technology literate than students from the SmS. A quantitative analysis of the data indicated that types/patterns of responses in the two schools were clearly even. Our findings support previous research on CoPs in an open distance learning environment (Johnson, 2001; Kathryn, 2002; Maor, 2003; Kehrwald, 2008). Wasko & Faraj (2000: 155) research results indicate that ‘people participate in electronic communities primarily out of community interest, generalized reciprocity and pro-social behaviour’. Findings indicate that students in the ODeL environment have common learning interests and they need collaboration in order to avoid social isolation. Notwithstanding the reliability issues of having only one instrument to gather quantitative data in the ODeL environment, it is clear that research ideas on CoPs’ benefits (e.g. Moore & Thompson, 1990; Towobola & Raimi, 2011) and preferred online communication modes (e.g. Johnson, 2001; GannonLeary & Fontainha, 2007) were confirmed (in response to research question 4). Although these results cannot be generalised, the outcomes of this survey encourage forming and designing communities of practice in ODeL environments. The students’ willingness for engagement in CoP groups at this ODeL institution has to be considered. Forming CoPs among postgraduate and undergraduate

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58 students at the SoC and SmS at the institution is a vital step in order to improve specific and cross-field learning outcomes. The findings offer insight into important links in designing CoPs as a chain between leadership and student achievement.

CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS AND FURTHER RESEARCH The quality of ODeL education is important to its stakeholders and well-designed CoPs can invite students and even evoke innovative activities. In view of the specific research questions in this study:

1.

What are the opinions of students in terms of their willingness to share knowledge and experiences?

2. What perceived benefits of CoPs exist among students at the ODeL institution?

3. What are the opinions of students in terms of team preparedness and collaborative technologies that can positively influence CoP learning teams?

4. What communication modes are appropriate for CoP learning environments?

The following are some conclusions and implications from this study endeavour:

• Multiple perspectives on willingness, the benefits, and the appropriate communication modes must be determined prior to forming CoPs in the ODeL and face-to-face learning contexts.

• In an environment of trust such as in CoPs, there is continual change and experimentation. In a trusting team environment, learning takes place through corrective actions. This results in team members’ willingness to take more risks.

• Students, from the moment they commence their studies, need practice in the use of the various communication modes. Given that most students in this study preferred online communication, they need to become progressively familiar with the idea of CoPs and receive appropriate guidance as to what is expected of them in terms of collaborative learning within CoPs.

• CoPs as a path in learning need to be introduced more widely within ODeL learning contexts through blended, hybrid and mixed-mode of interactions (Martyn, 2003).

• Students prefer online communication modes. However, face-to-face communications are important for initial contact between CoPs members and lecturers.

From a practical perspective, it is necessary to recognise the students’ readiness to accept an engagement in CoPs teams. CoPs enablers as discussed may provide a clear path regarding how ODeL institutions can promote a learning culture. Future research can examine how personal traits (such as attitudes, learning styles, attention, character, creativity and cultural differences) may moderate the relationships between CoPs knowledge enablers and learning processes in an ODeL context.

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59 Besser, H. & Donahue, S. (1996) ‘Introduction and overview: Perspectives on distance independent education’ Journal of the American Society for Information Science 47(11) pp.801-804. Bielaczyc, K. & Collins, A. (1999) ‘Learning communities in classrooms: A reconceptualization of educational practice’ In C.M. Reigeluth (Ed.) Instructional design theories and models. Vol. II. Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Borthick, A.F. & Jones, D.R. (2000) ‘The motivation for collaborative discovery learning online and its application in an information systems assurance course’ Issues in Accounting Education 15(2) pp.181210. Brown, J.S., Collins, A. & Duguid, P. (1989) ‘Situated cognition and the culture of learning’ Education Researcher (18) pp.32-42. Burk, M. (2005) ‘Communities of practice’ http://www.worldcat.org/title/public-roads/oclc/1586080 (Accessed 9 July 2013). Creswell, J.W. (1994) Research design: Qualitative & quantitative approaches. California: Sage. Creswell, J.W. (2008). Educational research – planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. 3rd ed. New York: Sage. Dela Pena-Bandalaria, M. (2007) ‘Impact of ICTs on open and distance learning in a developing country setting: The Philippine experience’ International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 8(1) pp.1-15. Dzakiria, H. & Idrus, R.M. (2003) ‘Teacher-learner interactions in distance education: a case of two Malaysian universities’ Turkey On-line Journal of Distance Education (TOJDE) 4(30) pp.1-15. Eckert, P. (2006) ‘Communities of practice’ Encyclopedia of language and linguistics Elsevier. USA Empowerment in Organizations 6(7) pp.177-186. Evans, T. & Nation, D. (1989) Critical reflections on distance education. Brighton: Palmer Press. Ferreira, J.G. & Venter, E. (2011) ‘Barriers to learning at an ODL institution’ Progressio 33(1) pp.80-93. Fischer, G. (1998) Social creativity: turning barriers into opportunities for collaborative design. Center for LifeLong Learning and Design (L3D). Department of Computer Science. University of Colorado. pp.152161. Fozdar, B.I. & Kumar, L.S. (2007) ‘Mobile learning and student retention’ International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 8(2) pp.1-18. Gannon-Leary, P. & Fontainha, E. (2007) ‘Communities of practice and virtual learning communities: benefits, barriers and success factors’ E-learning Papers 5 pp.20-29. Gardner, H. (1993) Intelligence reframed. Multiple intelligences for the 21st century. New York: Basic Books. Goodson, I.F. (2005) Learning, curriculum and life politics: the selected works of Ivor F Goodson. London: Routledge.

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60 Goos, M., Galbraith, P. & Renshaw, P. (2002) ‘Socially mediated metacognition: Creating collaborative zones of proximal development in small group problem solving’ Educational Studies in Mathematics 49(2) pp.193-223. Gunawardena, C.N., Hermans, M.B., Sanchez, D., Richmond, C., Bohley, M. & Tuttle, R. (2009) ‘A theoretical framework for building online communities of practice with social networking tools’ Educational Media International 46(1) pp.3-16. Hammond, M. (2006) ‘Learning through on-line discussion: what are the opportunities for professional development and what are the characteristics of on-line writing?’ Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rtpe19 (Accessed 22 June 2013). Hildreth, P., Kimble, C. & Wright, P. (2000) ‘Communities of practice in the distributed international environment’ Journal of Knowledge Management 4(1) pp.27-37. Honeyman, M. & Miller, G. (1993) ‘Agriculture distance education: A valid alternative for higher education?’ Proceedings of the 20th Annual National Agricultural Education Research Meeting pp.67-73. Hsiu-Fen, L. (2007) ‘Knowledge sharing and firm innovation capability: an empirical study’ International Journal of Manpower 28(3/4) pp.315-332. Jakovljevic, M., Buckley, S. & Bushney, M. (2013) ‘Forming communities of practice in higher education: A theoretical perspective’ Proceedings of MakeLearn conference 19-21 June 2013, Zadar, Croatia. Johnson, C.M. (2001) ‘A survey of current research on online communities of practice’ The Internet and Higher Education 4(1) pp.45-60. Kathryn, H.A. (2002) ‘Communities of practice: engagement, belonging and alignment’ Journal of Teacher Education 53(3) pp.222-227. Keegan, D. (1996) Foundations of distance education. London: Routledge. Kehrwald, B. (2008) ‘Understanding social presence in text-based online learning environments’ Distance Education 29(1) pp.89-106. Lai, K.W., Pratt, K., Anderson, M. & Stigter, J. (2006) ‘Executive summary’ Literature review and synthesis: Online Communities of Practice. http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/curriculum/5795 (Accessed 14 August 2013). Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning: legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press. Lewis, D. & Allan, B. (2005) Virtual learning communities: A guide for practitioners. Society for Research into High Education. Berkshire: Open University Press. Maor, D. (2003) ‘The teacher’s role in developing interaction and reflection in an online learning community’ Education Media International 40(1/2) pp.127-138. Martyn, M. (2003) ‘The hybrid online model: Good practice’ Educause Quarterly 26(1) pp.18-23. Mbati, A. (2012) ‘Online learning for social constructivism: Creating a conducive environment’ Progressio 34(2) pp.99-119. The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


61 Merriam, S.B. (1998) Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Morgan, A.R. (1995) ‘Improving student learning in distance education: theory, research and practice’ European Journal of Psychology of Education (vst.x) 2 pp.111-130. Moore, M.G. & Thompson, M.M. (1990) ‘The effects of distance learning: A summary of the literature’ Research Monograph No.2 University Park, The Pennsylvania State University, American Center for the Study of Distance Education (Eric Document No: 330-321). Morse, R. (2000) ‘Knowledge management systems: using technology to enhance organizational learning’ The Proceedings of the Information Resources Management Association International Conference. IRMA, Idea Group Inc. Nage-Sibande, B., van Vollenhoven, W.J. & Hendrikz, J. (2011) ‘ODL and access to higher education: The experiences of the University of Botswana’ Progressio 33(1) pp.138-154. Nickols, F. (2003) ‘Communities of practice: What it like inside? http://home.att.net/~nickols/articles. htm (Accessed 8 July 2013). Pan, S.L. & Scarbrough, H. (1998) ‘Socio-technical view of knowledge sharing at Buckman Laboratories’ Journal of Knowledge Management 2(1) pp.55-66. Pan, S.L. & Scarbrough, H. (2010) ‘Knowledge management in practice: An exploratory case study’ Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 11(3) pp.359-374. Patton, M.Q. (1980) Qualitative evaluation methods. Beverly Hills CA: Sage. Pitsoe, V.J. & Maila, M.W. (2011) ‘Towards a reflexive teaching and learning framework in open distance learning (ODL)’ Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies (JETERAPS) 2(6) pp.485-492. Roberts, J. (2013) ‘Institute for open and distance learning (IODL)’ Presentation at Unisa SBL – 6 June 2013. College Of Graduate Studies, UNISA. Rogers, J. (2000) Communities of practice: A framework for fostering coherence in virtual learning communities. Utah: Utah State University, USA. Rovai, A.P. (2002) ‘Building sense of community at a distance’ The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 3(1) http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrod/article/view/79/152 (Accessed 19 August 2013). Rowntree, D. (1982) Curriculum development and educational technology. London: Harper and Row. Ruey, S. (2010) ‘A case study of constructivist instructional strategies for adult online learning’ British Journal of Educational Technology 41(5) pp.706–720. Sharratt M. & Usoro, A. (2003) ‘Understanding knowledge-sharing in online communities of practice’ Electronic Journal on Knowledge Management 1(2) pp.187-196. The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


62 Siemens, G. (2004) Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. http://www.elearnspace.org/ Articles/connectivism.htm (Accessed 12 April 2013). Siddiqui, M.H. (2008) Distance learning technologies in education. New Delhi: APH Publishing. Standing, C. & Benson, S. (2002) ‘An issues framework for the role of organisational culture and climate in knowledge management’ The Proceedings of the Information Resources Management Association International Conference. IRMA, Idea Group Inc. Taiwo, A.T. (2011) ‘Issues and challenges in distance learning: an expository study’ Continental Educational Research 4(3) pp.57-62. Towobola, W.L. & Raimi, L. (2011) ‘Open distance learning (ODL): a catalyst for educational and entrepreneurship development in Nigeria’ Continental J. Education Research 4(3) pp.1-11. Trentin, G. (2002) ‘From distance education to virtual communities of practice: The wide range of possibilities for using the Internet in continuous education and training’ International Journal on E-Learning 1(1) pp.55-66. Twigg, C.A. (1997) ‘Is technology a silver bullet?’ Educom Review (March/ April) pp.28-29. Wasko, M.M. & Faraj, S. (2000) ‘It is what one does: why people participate and help others in electronic communities of practice’ The Journal of Strategic Information Systems 9(2) pp.155-173. Wenger, E. & Snyder, W. (2000) ‘Communities of practice; the organisational frontier’ Harvard Business Review (Jan-Feb) pp.139-145. Wenger, E. (1998a) Communities of practice. Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Wenger, E. (1998b) Communities of practice. Learning as a social system, systems thinker. http://www. co-i-l.com/coil/knowledge-garden/cop/lss.shtml (Accessed 15 December 2012). Wenger, E. (2000) ‘Communities of practice and social learning systems’ 7 pp.225-246. http://org. sagepub.com (Accessed 2 July 2013). Wenger, E., McDermott, R. & Snyder, W.M. (2002) Cultivating communities of practice. A guide to managing knowledge. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press. Wilson, D.A. (1996) Managing Knowledge, Butterworth-Heinemann: Oxford. Wubbels, T. (2007) ‘Do we know a community of practice when we see one?’ Technology Pedagogy and Education 16(2) pp.225-233. Yin, R.K. (1994) Case study research – design and methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Zhang, T.M., Peng, K.S. &. Hung. J. (2009) ‘Online collaborative learning in a project-based learning environment in Taiwan: A case study on undergraduate students’ perspectives’ Educational Media International 46(2) pp.123-135. The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


63 From ‘Matie’ to citizen – graduate attributes as signature learning at Stellenbosch University1 Cecilia Jacobs - University of Stellenbosch, South Africa Sonja Strydom - University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

ABSTRACT Graduateness is generally understood to mean the generic qualities that might be expected of any graduate. The issue of graduateness is explored in this article through an initiative at Stellenbosch University which took the form of a Signature Learning Experience (SLE) entitled: ‘Being a Matie, being a citizen’. This initiative was designed as a common learning experience for first-year students through which the graduate attributes could be embedded. The article draws on Barrie’s research into graduate attributes, to analyse the development and implementation of the initiative. The article maps the SLE initiative against Barrie’s conceptualisations of how graduate attributes are understood by academics, as well as understandings of how students acquire generic graduate attributes. Multi-method approaches were used to gather data about the initiative, which was piloted as a semester-long programme in the co-curriculum, with a group of first-year students. The themes emerging from the findings relate to the competing demands of the formal and co-curriculum and the challenges of embedding graduate attributes in the curriculum. The conclusions point to the need for a broader conversation around approaches towards embedding graduate attributes.1

INTRODUCTION The notion of ‘graduateness’, and its expression as graduate attributes embedded in higher education curricula, is currently being debated across a number of universities, both nationally and internationally. This debate has been fuelled by initiatives in Australia, such as the national Graduate Attributes Project (GAP), which focused on the implementation of graduate attributes through a broader process of curriculum renewal. Australia has been leading the field for just over a decade, with regard to researching graduate attributes (Oliver, 2013). In her seminal paper, Jones (2012) outlines some of the considerable research that has been undertaken into the area of graduate attributes, and argues that while ‘much of this research has been based on the assumption that graduate attributes are generic and transcend the disciplinary context’, this notion is also contested in studies which have ‘examined the relationship between graduate attributes and disciplinary culture’ (2012: 592). She concludes that there is still much uncertainty about the integration of graduate attributes into the curriculum and the ways this can best be achieved. This is the case in South Africa as well, where there is a paucity of research into the implementation of graduate attributes, creating a lacuna that this paper hopes to start addressing. In an earlier paper, Jones (2009) outlines two strands in the literature which has shaped the nature of the debates around graduate

1 Date of Submission 5 December 2013 Date of Acceptance 10 April 2014

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64 attributes; those studies with an interest in generic skills/attributes and those studies with an interest in the disciplinary forms of graduate attributes. These two schools of thought are reflected in the data presented in this paper, and as authors we argue against the assumption that graduate attributes are generic and call for a reconceptualisation of graduate attributes a context-specific engagement with knowledge. In South Africa the forms of implementing graduate attributes vary across institutions, from the reading and discussion of a book prescribed for reading and discussion across a university, to the development of a core module which is taught as a pre-requisite to all first-year students. None of these forms of implementation come without particular challenges. Given the history of apartheid and its continued effects on South African society today, we argue that the issue of graduateness has become linked to issues of social justice and critical citizenship. This has resulted in a number of initiatives at South African universities, such as the Grounding Programme at Fort Hare University and the new core curriculum module at the University of the Free State which claims to be ‘creating the next generation of citizens and young academics to stand out amongst other graduates in South Africa’ (UFS101 prepares new students for life, 2012). At Stellenbosch University, such an initiative took the form of a signature learning experience, and this article reports on the research emanating from this initiative.

CONTEXT Recent debates around the notion of a signature learning experience programme at Stellenbosch University arose from a 2010 university research project, focusing on the graduate attributes important to Stellenbosch University. This research project (Van Schalkwyk, Muller & Herman, 2011), which was part of a broader institutional initiative to revisit the profile of the Stellenbosch University graduate, considered Stellenbosch University policy statements in relation to graduate attributes. The research also investigated how these graduate attributes were perceived by students in the undergraduate curriculum. One of the findings from this research was that academic departments had a limited engagement with and understanding of what it meant to address aspects of citizenship in the curriculum. In March 2011 the topic of graduate attributes was also the focus of a presentation to the Cape Higher Education Consortium (of which Stellenbosch University is a part) by Simon Barrie (2011), a scholar currently leading debates in the area of graduate attributes internationally. This encounter with Barrie’s work (2004, 2006, 2009) stimulated discussions on the topic of graduate attributes at the university, which resulted in the revision of the university Teaching and Learning Policy in order to incorporate a new set of graduate attributes. This document lists the attributes of a Stellenbosch University graduate as a person with the following capabilities:

an enquiring mind

an engaged citizen

a dynamic professional

a well-rounded individual.

One of the responses to suggestions to embed these attributes was the planning and implementation of a Signature Learning Experience (SLE) programme in 2012. A report on this topic was commissioned by the university, in which signature learning was described as ‘an integration of particular pedagogies with broad learning goals and a combination of in-class and co-curricular activities over a longer period’, and defined as ‘a unique learning environment that integrates a broad base of disciplines to enhance creative teaching and comprehension’(Smith, 2011: 6).

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65 After a range of broad consultative meetings the planned SLE was placed in the co-curriculum2 since it was thought to be too complex to integrate into the formal curriculum in such a short time. However, this decision was influenced by more than just pragmatic reasons, it also reflected a particular understanding of graduate attributes, as illustrated in the Theoretical framing section. As a result of collaboration among various key role players, the following SLE outcome was deemed important: ‘To create learning opportunities for students to engage critically with the diversity of realities of their personal and immediate context (Stellenbosch) but also their broader context (South Africa and beyond) in order to develop the attributes Stellenbosch University would like to see in graduates’ (Strydom, Jacobs & Kirsten, 2012: 4). The project documentation conceptualised the SLE as a strategy that sought to ‘support graduate attributes’, by encouraging students to think widely about their role in society and their roles as students. The SLE was conceptualised as an experience stressing two important aspects of students’ roles, namely, ‘their engagement with their studies and their engagement and responsiveness within a diverse environment’. The project was thus summarised in the slogan: ‘Being a Matie,3 being a citizen’, and aimed to provide students with a ‘common set of messages and a common learning platform’, with the intention of encouraging students to talk and interact across disciplinary, residence and other social boundaries such as ‘race’ and language. In addition to this, the project was conceptualised as a catalyst for:

collaboration between academics and support services personnel

embedding graduate attributes in undergraduate programmes

staff development with regard to teaching for citizenship.

It was hoped that the project would achieve the above by drawing in staff from across the various divisions of the university. The design and implementation of this SLE initiative was the object of research and this article reports on the findings of this research.

THEORETICAL FRAMING As outlined in the introduction, the SLE initiative arose from an engagement with the work of Simon Barrie. He offers a conceptual framework for the teaching and learning of generic graduate attributes (Barrie, 2007). Barrie’s research is based on a phenomenographic investigation into academics’ conceptions of graduate attributes. What he found was that academics held ‘disparate understandings of the nature of generic attributes and their place amongst the outcomes of a university education’ (Barrie, 2007: 439). He described this disparity as four increasingly complex categories of how graduate attributes are understood by academics: Precursor Conception; Complement Conception; Translation Conception; and Enabling Conception. Precursor Conception: This conception sees graduate attributes as necessary basic precursor skills, but considers them to be irrelevant to higher education, as they are a regarded as a prerequisite for entry into the university. Complement Conception: This conception sees graduate attributes as general functional abilities and personal skills that complement the discipline-specific learning outcomes of a university education.

2 The co-curriculum refers to the continuous process of student development which happens through informal out-of-class learning experiences. 3 The term ‘Matie’ refers to students who are registered at Stellenbosch University.

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66 Translation Conception: This conception sees graduate attributes as the abilities that enable students to translate and make use of or apply disciplinary knowledge in the world. Enabling Conception: This conception sees graduate attributes as enabling abilities that infuse university learning and knowledge. The first two conceptions (precursor and complement) were viewed as ‘additive’, while the other two conceptions (translation and enabling) were viewed as ‘transformative’. Barrie describes the additive approach as one which sees graduate attributes as providing a generic foundation to which the disciplinary knowledge of a university education can be added. He further describes the transformative approach as one, which sees graduate attributes as having the potential to transform university learning and knowledge and ‘support the creation of new knowledge and transform the individual’ (Barrie, 2007: 440). Drawing on Barrie’s research, if one maps the Stellenbosch University SLE against these conceptualisations, it becomes clear that this initiative was underpinned by an understanding of graduate attributes as general functional abilities and personal skills that complement the discipline-specific learning outcomes of a university education, i.e., the ‘Complement Conception’. The SLE initiative could thus be viewed as an additive approach, in which the graduate attributes were seen as providing a generic foundation to which the disciplinary knowledge of the university education could be added. Arising from the categories of how graduate attributes were understood by academics, Barrie also developed a set of categories representing academics’ increasingly complex understandings of how students acquire generic graduate attributes: Remedial; Associated; Teaching Content; Teaching Process; Engagement; and Participatory. Remedial: This view sees the development of generic attributes as the responsibility of educational experiences prior to higher education studies. The teaching of these generic attributes is considered remedial and necessary for those students who have not yet developed these skills. Associated: This view sees the development of generic attributes as part of the university’s teaching role. However this teaching is done through the provision of an additional separate curriculum in association with the formal university curriculum. The difference between this view and the remedial view is that the additional separate curriculum is not seen as remedial but as a curriculum for all students. Teaching Content: This view regards the development of generic attributes as part of the taught content of formal university courses, rather than an additional curriculum. Generic attributes are included as an integral part of the teaching content of the discipline. Teaching Process: This view sees the development of generic attributes as something to be achieved through the teaching process of formal university courses. Engagement: This view sees the development of generic attributes not as a part of the content (what is taught) or the process (the way it is taught) of teaching, but rather as the way the student engages with learning in formal university courses. Participatory: This view sees the development of generic attributes as the way the student participates in the broader learning experiences of university life. These six categories are further divided into two types: Supplementary and Integrated. The first two categories, Remedial and Associated, fall into the ‘Supplementary’ type. This means that the process of The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


67 developing graduate attributes is supplementary to mainstream university teaching and learning. The other four categories fall into the ‘Integrated’ type because they are considered to be an integral part of the formal curriculum, rather than being supplementary to it. In mapping the SLE against these six categories, it becomes clear that this initiative falls into the second category, Associated, as it was underpinned by understandings that saw the development of graduate attributes as part of the university’s teaching role. In this way it was quite distinct from the Remedial category. It also differed from the Remedial category in that it was not offered to those students who had not yet developed these skills. Instead, it was offered to a group of students, as a pilot programme, with the intention of offering it to all first-year students the following year. However, because the SLE initiative was conceptualised as the provision of an additional separate curriculum in association with the formal university curriculum, it falls into the ‘Supplementary’ type rather than the ‘Integrated’ type.

METHODOLOGY This study drew on multi-method approaches and participatory methodologies, such as interviews, questionnaires/surveys, focus groups, document scans, and analyses of project tasks, activities and content, as well as the online activities of participants. The primary participants in the study were the trainers, facilitators and students in the SLE initiative. We attempted to gather data from as wide a range of stakeholders and role players, both inside and outside of the SLE initiative, as possible. The sources of information for the data collection process were: • the group of 646 participating first-year students (mentees) • the 91 participating senior students (mentors/facilitators) • the implementation group, consisting of non-academic staff who volunteered to be trainers in the initiative • the team of staff members who developed the initiative • selected Stellenbosch University academics who expressed an interest in the initiative • SLE project documentation • the learning management system (Blackboard) which hosted the online resources • correspondence with international students who were partners in the initiative. Data was obtained through online questionnaires, focus group interviews, feedback sessions, as well as document analysis. Two online questionnaires were distributed using the university survey tool (SUNSurveys). One questionnaire was distributed to the 646 participating first-year students, and the other was distributed to the 91 participating mentors. The questionnaire, consisting of 18 Likert-scale questions and five open-ended questions, was completed by 33% of the mentors and 57% of the mentees. Data analysis consisted of the determination of the mean score for each of the Likert-scale questions and open coding of the open-ended questions. As a follow-up to the questionnaires, and drawing on the themes emerging from the coding and analysis of the questionnaires, a series of seven focus group sessions were conducted with those trainers, mentors and mentees who responded to the invitation. Documentation related to the SLE initiative (e.g. reports, presentations, participant e-mail correspondence, online materials and activity, written feedback on the SLE) as well as the themes emerging from the questionnaire, informed the focus group sessions. Focus group data was analysed by means of open coding which formed part of the qualitative thematic analysis. Strategies to ensure reliability of the data included inter-coder agreements and cross-checking of the identified codes in the transcripts (Creswell, 2009). A process of informed consent ensured ethical considerations and all participants were aware of their right to withdraw and of their anonymity. Interviews were conducted with selected individuals who were unable to participate in the focus group sessions,

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68 and feedback sessions were also conducted with groups of participants and stakeholders while the SLE initiative was in progress. Finally, all SLE project documentation, such as reports, presentations, materials, participant e-mail correspondence, written feedback on the SLE, online materials and activity, interim evaluation documents, were analysed.

FINDINGS A range of findings emerged from this study. The themes that related most directly to the issue of graduate attributes were: the competing demands of formal academic work and co-curricular activities; the synergy between formal and co-curriculum; and the challenges of embedding graduate attributes in the curriculum. Competing demands of mainstream academic work and co-curricular activities This theme spoke to the pressure of mainstream academic work. Since the SLE initiative was conceptualised as a complementary to the formal curriculum, and placed in the co-curriculum, it was perceived as an additional burden by many students: …doing this programme on top of studies is difficult…the sessions require time that is difficult to find in the week, and then the sessions are usually rushed to fit everyone’s schedule… …I think it (SLE) is taking up too much time…I’m writing three tests this week, one of which is tomorrow… this exercise doesn’t have anything to do with academics and therefore we cannot be obliged to do this as I am focused now on studies…

…some things I didn’t feel were necessarily beneficial at this stage in our studies…

Faced with the competing demands of their mainstream academic work and the co-curricular SLE initiative, the students invariably privileged their academic work and neglected the SLE programme. When asked to evaluate their own learning in relation to the SLE initiative, 33.6% of the mentees (first-year students) indicated that they learnt a lot, in comparison to 26.9% of the mentors (senior students who facilitated the programme). However, the majority of both mentors and mentees suggested that they had learnt little in the programme. Figure 1: Overall evaluation of own learning Overall evaluation of own learning Mentee

33.6

Learnt a lot

26.9

51.4

Learned little

Learned nothing

Mentor

65.4

15 7.7

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69 The survey and focus group interviews revealed that students had not valued the SLE programme in which the graduate attributes were embedded, as it was seen to be unrelated to their mainstream academic work. Their attendance was poor on the whole and dwindled as the programme proceeded. All of these factors contributed to this overall evaluation of their learning. Synergy between formal and co-curriculum Generally the participants in the SLE initiative felt that there was little synergy between the formal curriculum (which housed their academic work) and the co-curriculum (which housed the SLE initiative) in which the graduate attributes were embedded. This relates to the previous finding, where students experienced a tension between the competing demands of the formal and co-curriculum. In the data emerging from the focus group interviews, participants expressed the view that these two curricula needed to be better integrated. There were differing opinions though, on how this integration should happen. Some participants felt that aspects of the graduate attributes, such as the more personal attributes, were better suited to the co-curriculum, and that others, such as the more academic attributes, were better suited to the formal curriculum: I always thought, if you look at some of the themes and what we wanted to achieve, that the university could have some of this in the curriculum … … some of this can definitely stay in the co-curriculum but I think the more formal parts should be part of the curriculum. Another view of the synergy between the formal and co-curriculum related to the voluntary nature of the co-curriculum. This participant also felt that many of the graduate attributes were more suited to the formal curriculum. However, he also felt that by embedding these attributes in the voluntary co-curriculum, which was primarily set up to serve the needs of students staying in residence, it was denying an opportunity to those students who commuted on a daily basis. Everybody needs to attend class, but not everybody needs to participate in the co-curriculum…many of the graduate attributes are more closely linked with the curriculum than the co-curriculum, or perhaps just as much…so, you develop in all these experiences you have, as much as what you choose to learn from it…and you make sense of it in terms of your life, and not everybody is in a residence, not everybody is in PSO, some students drive in daily…they are never going to be part of the cocurriculum, some people leave class and just study the whole time… Participants also had different views about whether the formal and the co-curriculum should be integrated and how this might happen. One participant felt that both types of curricula had a place in the university, but that they needed to be better connected: We can have a co-curriculum but it must be connected to the formal curriculum. If it isn’t fully integrated it must be connected. That is imperative. I cannot follow themes in the co-curriculum if the themes are not understood and connected to what happens in the degree programmes. I think the attributes then become extremely important and all of us can focus. Another participant felt that these two curricula could not be separated and needed to be much more closely integrated: But you cannot separate the curriculum and the co-curriculum, it is precisely the integration we are looking for, the integration of the social and academic to see the total picture making up an individual. The more you learn in the curriculum the more you are geared to contribute in the co-curriculum…

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70 Another viewpoint was that there was no middle ground regarding the integration of the co-curriculum and the formal curriculum, and this participant argued for either total separation or full integration of the two: My big problem is this disintegration – this is not a problem between the curriculum and the cocurriculum, it is total disintegration. There are many other programmes, for example co-curricular, that are running but you do not make sense of them because they are not well integrated … it is a detachment of many realities … if we make a conscious decision to separate it, then we need to keep it separate, I don’t think there is middle ground here. There are fundamental differences, learning differences, different experiences… Challenges of embedding graduate attributes in the curriculum On the issue of embedding graduate attributes in the curriculum, there were also a range of viewpoints. An academic staff member expressed the view that not all graduate attributes (such as ‘dynamic professional’) were suited to the attributes of first-year students, implying that graduate attributes needed to be dealt with beyond the first year. Most academics indicated that they would only be involved in the teaching of graduate attributes if these attributes were connected to their own disciplinary research, teaching and students. A non-academic staff member, involved in the co-curriculum, supported the view that graduate attributes needed to be embedded across all years of study and not just be a first-year initiative: The graduate attributes are great but I think it should be, it should definitely happen at the beginning, it could be the first thing that you get told when you come here. You are going to do a B.Com but you should also have these four things by the time you leave. And it should be the whole time, through development, the first year, then the second year get reminded, and you get questioned, and there should be a tick box there at some point somewhere, maybe in your fifth year, when you say well finally I am a citizen, you know … there shouldn’t be an immediate tick box, but we should find ways at the university to keep addressing the attributes, not just a first-year programme, or questioning them at their graduation. This view was endorsed by the student participants. One postgraduate student held the view that graduate attributes needed to be developed across the students’ studies. As a postgraduate student, she pointed to her own experience of developing graduate attributes: It isn’t something you can tick off, you’ve done it. You grow in it, you only start the growing experience in your first year. I would say, when I read and really thought about what the graduate attributes are, maybe in my fourth or my fifth year, and a lot of them I still don’t ... I need to in a sense get there. These are not things that you tick off in a little programme in your first year. It is everything that you experience at a university. One of the senior students who facilitated the SLE programme with the first-year students expressed the view that first-year students struggled with the notion of graduateness because they were too new to the university and the university experience was still too unfamiliar to them: The first-year students weren’t able to benefit that much from it (the SLE programme) because they didn’t have experience in well, thinking ‘like that‘ … it challenged the students to think in a way that I only learnt over the course of my three years at university. Expecting first years to do it in the very beginning of the year resulted in much frustration and disappointment because they didn’t ‘get’ what the programme was trying to do. In a focus group session, these senior students commented on how they struggled to articulate notions of citizenship and graduateness to the first-year students and how they were unable to express these notions

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71 in ways that were accessible to first-year students. An academic development staff member, who provided training for these senior students who facilitated the SLE programme, questioned whether graduate attributes could be taught and learned explicitly. He felt that it was something students acquired in the process and experience of learning: For it to be meaningful you actually need to acquire it rather than learn what the attribute is. I would never have said that at the end of your programme you need to be ‘an enquiring person’ but I think it is part of the process and experience of learning. Students need to have questions, they need to investigate those ideas or questions. So, I think the whole notion of experience, especially in the first year, is central to how I develop as ‘an enquiring person’ so that when I begin to show that I do have questions, that I do have a way of beginning to investigate those questions and trying to find evidence, and beginning to draw conclusions about those and developing new propositions, then I’m beginning to grapple with the experience of enquiry, rather than knowing that this is the attribute and that I need to be enquiring. The SLE programme was conceptualised as a space for embedding the SU graduate attributes. Although the graduate attributes were made explicit to the students and they had ‘learned the language’ of the graduate attributes, for it to be meaningful they actually needed to acquire the attributes. So, rather than having students reciting an attribute such as ‘be an enquiring person’, they needed to grapple with the process of enquiry and develop as an enquiring person. There was thus a strong argument for the embedding of the graduate attributes in the formal curriculum, since participation in the co-curriculum was voluntary and many students chose not to participate.

CONCLUSIONS The notion of a Signature Learning Experience (SLE) as a vehicle for embedding graduate attributes at universities has gained traction across a number of universities. Although the forms of implementation vary, the common messaging across the range of forms in the literature is that such an initiative requires widespread engagement across an institution. The findings from this study suggest that this process of developing common understandings, did not take its course at SU. The result was therefore a standalone, add-on initiative underpinned by ‘Complement Conceptions’ (Barrie, 2007) that did not take root in the culture and fundamental ethos of the institution. This led to additive approaches rather than more transformative approaches. The SLE initiative was planned for the co-curriculum, since it was thought to be too complex a process to integrate into the formal curriculum in a short space of time, with future prospects of integrating it into the formal curriculum. The findings from this study point to the need to invest the necessary time to create the kinds of spaces required for in-depth dialogue and widespread engagement across the institution about the notion of embedding graduate attributes. This process should not be rushed, as it takes time to develop common understandings and plan implementation strategies that carry the support of a university community. Such time is well invested, as models at other universities (such as the Grounding Programme at Fort Hare University) have shown. The findings also point to understandings that saw the development of graduate attributes through the provision of an additional separate curriculum, the SLE programme, in association with the formal university curriculum (Barrie, 2007). Although the SLE programme was conceptualised as a curriculum for all students, its reach was seriously hampered by its supplementary nature. A shift to what Barrie refers to as a more integrated approach, would require an exploration of the synergies between the formal and the co-curriculum at SU.

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72 First-year students often find it challenging to link the formal curriculum with the co-curricular activities at the university. Students often experience learning opportunities as separate and fragmented, with little emphasis placed on the importance of learning outside the formal curriculum. The findings from this study point to the inability of first-year students to appreciate fully the learning opportunities provided by the SLE initiative. Some first-year students questioned the necessity and applicability of such an experience to their academic student life. This calls for better integration of the formal and co-curriculum. The SLE initiative attempted to shift students from ‘Matie’ to citizen. This theme of ‘citizenship’ is one that has already been taken up in certain courses in the formal curriculum, and there is a Critical Citizenship research group at the university which is currently assessing perceptions and attitudes held by academic staff regarding the notion of Critical Citizenship pedagogy and its implications for Stellenbosch University. Similarly there are areas within the co-curriculum, such as the SLE initiative and the ‘Global Citizenship’ course run by the International Office, where this theme is also being explored. These are all potential sites within which to locate initial discussions about creating better synergies between the formal and the co-curriculum. Approaches towards the embedding of SU graduate attributes and the implications for teaching also need to be discussed by all stakeholders at the university. This debate has already been introduced by the Rector of SU. In his opening address at the annual SoTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) conference at the university, he had the following to say in relation to the graduate attributes: But we cannot only look at attributes of students without looking at the attributes of lecturers. If we want a student with an inquiring mind, we need lecturers with a critical pedagogy. If we want an engaged citizen, we need lecturers with a progressive pedagogy. If we want students who become dynamic professions, we need lecturers with an innovative pedagogy. And if we want students who are wellrounded individuals, we need lecturers with a self-renewing pedagogy (Botman, 2012). This conversation is one that clearly needs widespread dialogue across the university community. Such engagement should be an open process, which draws in students, academics and administrators across the formal and co-curriculum. The entire university community should be invited to participate in these conversations which need to form part of a broader engagement at the university on the subject of curriculum renewal. Finally, much of the literature on the topic of graduate attributes, despite often transformative agendas, is premised on an assumption that graduate attributes are ‘generic’. In moving the graduate attributes debates to more transformative and integrated approaches, this assumption needs to be interrogated. Millar (2012) argues that it is not possible to compile a list of generic attributes that can be associated with every graduate. She claims that ‘graduate attributes are not neutral, asocial, acultural, ahistorical or apolitical concepts’ and that they need to be regarded as ‘non-generic, context-specific and ideological’. This has implications for teaching and learning, as well as curriculum renewal. Millar argues that these attributes, or ‘attitudes,’ as she prefers to call them, need to be developed in a non-linear way, over time, through a process of being and with lots of space for reflexivity. This conceptualisation of graduate attributes is at odds with an assumption that graduate attributes are generic. The shift towards generic competencies and attributes links to autonomous views of teaching and learning (Boughey, 2012). Such approaches have been critiqued (Beck & Young, 2005; Maton & Moore, 2010; Wheelan, 2007) for undermining the very intentions they purport to have. This calls for a rethinking of the notion that graduate attributes are generic. If graduate attributes require a specific context for them to be meaningful, then surely it is not sensible to codify this context-specific type of knowledge in the form of generic attributes? Attempts to find a fit between generic attributes and the knowledge areas in which students are studying are often so imprecise that these generic attributes are rendered meaningless. It seems clear then, that graduate attributes must be an engagement with knowledge. The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


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REFERENCES Barrie, S.C. (2004) ‘A research based approach to generic graduate attributes policy’ Higher Education Research and Development 23(3) pp.261-275. Barrie, S.C. (2006) ‘Understanding what we mean by the generic attributes of graduates’ Higher Education, 51(2) pp.215-241. Barrie, S.C. (2007) ‘A conceptual framework for the teaching and learning of generic graduate attributes’ Studies in Higher Education 32(4) pp.439-458. Barrie, S.C. (2009) ‘Academic development as changing social practice: The generic attributes project’ In V. Bamber, P. Trowler, M. Saunders & P. Knight (Eds.) Enhancing Learning, Teaching, Assessment and Curriculum in Higher Education: Theory, Cases, Practices (Chapter 23). Maidenhead: McGraw Hill. Barrie, S.C. (2011) Designing an education for life after university: Some strategies. Paper presented at CHEC-PGWC Symposium on Researching Graduate Quality, Cape Town, South Africa. Beck, J. & Young, M.F.D. (2005) ‘The assault on the professions and the restructuring of academic and professional identities: A Bernsteinian analysis’ British Journal of Sociology of Education 26 pp.183-197. Botman, R. (2012) Welcoming Address. Sixth Annual Stellenbosch University Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference. Somerset West, South Africa. Boughey, C. (2012) ‘Social inclusion and exclusion in a changing higher education environment’ Multidisciplinary Journal of Educational Research 2(2) pp.133-151. Creswell, J.W. (2009) Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed approaches. (3rd ed.) Los Angeles: Sage. Jones, A. (2009) ‘Redisciplining generic attributes: the disciplinary context in focus’ Studies in Higher Education 34(1) pp.85-100. Jones, A. (2013) ‘There is nothing generic about graduate attributes: unpacking the scope of context’ Journal of Further and Higher Education 37(5) pp.591-605. Maton, K. & Moore, R. (2010) ‘Introduction’ In K. Maton & R. Moore (Eds.) Social realism, knowledge and the sociology of education: Coalitions of the mind (pp.1-13). London: Continuum. Millar, B. (2012) ‘Graduate attitudes (not attributes) in emergency medical science students’ Paper presented at WILRU Ten-Year Anniversary Conference, Cape Town, South Africa. Oliver, B. (2013) ‘Graduate attributes as a focus for institution-wide curriculum renewal: innovations and challenges’ Higher Education Research & Development 32(3) pp.450-463. Smith, L. (2011) An overview of signature learning with special reference to its future adoption at Stellenbosch University. Unpublished report. University of Stellenbosch. Strydom, S.C., Jacobs, C. & Kirsten, E. (2012) Signature learning experience first phase pilot: Reflections and future considerations. Unpublished manuscript. Centre for Teaching and Learning, University of Stellenbosch.

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74 UFS101 prepares new students for life. http://www.ufs.ac.za/templates/archive.aspx?news=2300 (Accessed 15 July 2012). Van Schalkwyk, S., Muller, A. & Herman, N. (2011) ‘Graduate attributes for the public good: A case of a research-led university’ In B. Leibowitz (Ed.) Higher education for the public good: Views from the South (pp.87-99). Sterling: Trentham. Wheelan, L. (2007) ‘How competency-based training locks the working class out of powerful knowledge: A modified Bernsteinian analysis’ British Journal of Sociology of Education 28 pp.637-651.

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75 Fairness in using negative marking for assessing true/false questions12 Firoza Haffejee - Durban University of Technology, South Africa Thomas E. Sommerville - University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

ABSTRACT Multiple choice questions are a popular method of testing as they are easy to mark. However, they also lend themselves to guessing. True/False questions are particularly prone to guessing. This can be alleviated by deduction of marks for incorrect answers. The University of KwaZulu-Natal currently uses true/false questions in its assessments, which are answered by means of pencil-and-paper sheets that are optically scanned, marks being calculated according to a standard formula. A trial of a proposed new computer program revealed mark discrepancies compared to the current scheme. This study evaluates the program’s marking scheme ‘internal negative marking’ – whereby an overall negative mark for an item consisting of a stem and several true/false questions is ‘rounded up’ to zero. We enumerate the cause of the discrepancies, demonstrate that the latter scheme diminishes the penalty for guessing and may encourage strategic students to leave out parts of the curriculum when studying.12

INTRODUCTION It is claimed that multiple choice questions (MCQs) avoid the lack of reliability that is evident in the marking of essays and short answer questions (Hammond et al., 1998). Furthermore MCQ tests can assess a broad spectrum of the syllabus in a relatively short period of time (Moss, 2001; Brady, 2005; Manogue et al., 2002). Many assessments – particularly in science-based disciplines – are thus limited to MCQs (Davies, 2000). Despite ongoing questions about the extent to which MCQs conform to the requirements of a good assessment instrument (Davies, 2000; Moss, 2001; Burton, 2005; Ibrieger, 2006; McCoubrie, 2004), there is general agreement that they are a practical means of assessing the increasing numbers of learners with which higher education is faced (Hannan, English and Silver, 1999). Concomitant with this increase in numbers, the use of computers for assessment has steadily been increasing (Akdemir and Oguz, 2008). MCQ tests are easy to score automatically (Davies, 2000; Morrison and Free, 2001; Moss, 2001; Brady, 2005) and computers can instantly score the answers (Bugbee and Alan, 1996; Davies, 2000; Manogue et al., 2002). Computerisation in turn brings its own challenges (Zakrzewski and Steven, 2003) including ‘pedagogic, operational, technical and financial issues’. However, it does allow automation of interventions such as negative marking introduced to mitigate the effect of guessing.

1 Date of Submission 11 January 2014 Date of Acceptance 9 June 2014 2 The authors are grateful to Ms N.M. Cetywayo for assisting with data entry and to Dr J.M. Van Wyk for critically reviewing the manuscript.

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76 Negative marking Virtually all forms of MCQs encourage guessing (Collins, 2006; McHarg et al., 2005). Random answering can result in some questions being answered correctly by chance alone (Carneson, Delpierre and Masters, 1996). In true/false questions – which can be regarded as MCQs with only two options – there is a 50% chance of guessing the correct option. If the passing score is set at 50%, a pass can therefore be obtained without any knowledge of the subject (Bandaranayake, Payne and White, 1999; Smoline, 2008). Random guessing (as distinct from informed or calculated answering) can be discouraged by deduction of marks for incorrect answers, which improves test reliability (Burton, 2004; McHarg et al., 2005). If negative marking is to achieve its goal – to discriminate between different students’ performance – then the penalty applied should be great enough to discourage random guessing (Holsgrove, 1992) and to keep the span of meaningful marks as wide as possible. This is referred to as ‘reliability length’ (Burton, 2004). The formula generally used to calculate the quantum of negative marking is: I = C/ (n-1) where I = mark deducted for each incorrect alternative (distractor), C = mark awarded for the correct response, n = total number of alternatives and n-1 = the total number of incorrect alternatives (Carneson, Delpierre and Masters, 1996; Holt, 2006; Burton, 2004). Thus for a best-of four MCQ in which the mark for a correct answer is 1, choosing one of the three distractors would incur a mark of – 1/3. For a true/false question, the formula would yield a mark for an incorrect answer of –1 in the case where the correct answer scores +1. Alternatives to negative marking Although the negative marking formula is well-known and makes mathematical sense, it must be conceded that its use is not unquestioned. It has been questioned whether negative marking serves pre-emptively to discourage examinees from guessing, or retroactively to correct their mark for guesses made during testing, or in fact relates to an entirely different construct – examinees’ risk-taking propensities (Burton, 2005; Goldik, 2008; Fowell and Jolly, 2000; Bernardo, 1998; Betts et al., 2009). For these and other reasons, the standard formula is not the only way of attempting to accommodate examinees’ guesses. For example, the application of the formula can be such that within a group of true/false statements relating to a stem, a multitude of negative marks can be rounded up to zero; Cook (2010) refers to this as ‘internal negative marking’. The marking scheme can be adjusted to allow examinees to indicate with what degree of confidence they answer each question, the mark allocated for a correct or incorrect answer then varying according to that confidence rating (Bauer et al., 2011; Cisar et al., 2009). Marks can be allocated according to combinations of answers selected or omitted (Chang et al., 2007; Jennings and Bush, 2006). Formulae can be applied that take into account the number of items in the test, the number of choices within each item, and examinees’ mean scores and their variances (Zimmerman and Williams, 2003). Finally, the pass mark can be altered to take into account the likely score achieved by random guessing. Localisation of a problem The Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal uses a combination of true/false, MCQ and short-answer responses in tests and examinations in its undergraduate curriculum. These assessments are currently taken as a paper-based version where the true/false and MCQ answers are recorded on a sheet that can be scanned, and the standard negative marking formula applied. The faculty has, however, been exploring the option of changing over to wholly computer-based assessments, using the same format as in the paper-and-pencil version (Bugbee and Alan, 1996). Irrespective of whether responses are paper-based or captured directly on computer, the score of the assessment should be identical (Peak, 2005; Akdemir and Oguz, 2008). On a test run of the computer program under consideration, the researchers noted discrepancies in the results of true/false questions and set out to explore these further, in order to understand the discrepancies and their implications.

MATERIALS AND METHODS An assessment which had already been taken by a group of students was used in the comparison between marking by scanning a paper sheet and by the direct response program. The assessment comprised a The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


77 total of 150 true/false statements grouped into 34 items. Most of the items had five statements, although some had three, four or six. The assessment had been previously answered by the students in pencil on an MCQ answer sheet. One mark was allocated for each correct answer given and one mark was deducted for each incorrect answer. The scripts were scanned and marked electronically and a sample of the scripts was double-checked manually, according to the standard practice in the School of Medicine. Nine of these scripts which had already been assessed were chosen by stratified random selection: three scripts each were taken from the highest, middle and lowest performance of the class. The student details were removed from the answer scripts to render them anonymous. The answers on the scripts were then re-marked and scores re-calculated using the computer program under consideration; one investigator (FH) acted as ‘student’, entering the nine students’ original responses directly into the new program. All entries were double-checked. The marks obtained from the computer program after this re-assessment were then compared to those obtained in the paper-based scanned assessment. The scripts were also marked manually. Since all the computer-based test scores differed from their paper-based counterparts, the following mock scripts were created in order to test our hypothesis that the discrepancies were due to the way in which the MCQ scanning program and the computer-based test program totalled the scores. Two scripts were created, each with 75 correct answers and 75 incorrect answers. In script A, the answers were distributed such that all the correct answers were clustered in the first half and all the incorrect answers in the latter half of the paper. In script B, the correct answers were evenly distributed throughout the paper – for example, in items with five statements, half of these items had three correct and two incorrect answers and the other half had two correct and three incorrect answers. Again, 75 options were answered correctly and the other 75 incorrectly. The same investigator, again acting as ‘student’, entered the answers from these two scripts into the direct-answer program and also answered on MCQ sheets which were scanned and checked manually. Ethical clearance for this study was obtained from the University of KwaZulu-Natal ethics committee (ethical clearance approval number: HSS/0792/08).

RESULTS The scores of the students’ marks as obtained on the paper-based test and the computer program-based test are shown in Table 1. Table 1: Scores obtained in paper-based test and computer-based test, shown as actual score out of a total of 150 and as a percentage Paper-based test

Script number

Result on scanning MCQ sheet

Result on manual marking of MCQ sheet

Result in computer-based test

Discrepancy between paperbased and computerbased test

Score /150

%

Score /150

%

Score /150

%

%

001

123

82.0

123

82.0

124

83.0

1.0

002

122

81.3

122

81.3

125

83.3

2.0

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78 Paper-based test

Script number

Result on scanning MCQ sheet

Result on manual marking of MCQ sheet

Result in computer-based test

Discrepancy between paperbased and computerbased test

Score /150

%

Score /150

%

Score /150

%

%

003

122

81.3

122

81.3

125

83.3

2.0

004

90

60.0

90

60.0

94

62.7

2.7

005

86

57.3

86

57.3

89

59.3

2.0

006

78

52.0

78

52.0

83

55.3

3.3

007

56

37.3

56

37.3

62

41.3

4.0

008

56

37.3

56

37.3

65

43.3

6.0

009

42

28.0

42

28.0

53

35.3

7.3

A

0

0

0

0

75

50

50

B

0

0

0

0

19

12.7

12.7

Table 1 indicates that the scores of all the students were higher in the directly-entered computer programbased test. Furthermore, the rank order of scripts 001, 002 and 003, and of 007 and 008 changed. Closer scrutiny of these scripts indicated that, in an item where more than half the options were answered incorrectly, the computer program had rounded the mark of this item to zero, so that the negative mark was not carried over to the final score. For example, where an item contained five options, if three of these options were answered incorrectly, this yielded a score of 0 in the computer-based test whereas manual and scanned marking of the MCQ sheets allocated -1 to that item. Thus manual and scanned marking carried over a negative mark of an item to the final score whereas the marking of the computer-based test did not, resulting in discrepancies in the final scores, which were thus higher in the computer-based test. In the two experimental scripts, in each of which 50% of the questions were answered correctly and 50% incorrectly, the score obtained from manual marking as well as scanning of the MCQ sheet was 0%. In the direct entry computer-based test, script A, with the correct answers clustered together, however, scored 50%. Script B – with correct and incorrect answers scattered throughout the script – scored 12.7%.

DISCUSSION This study illustrates how discrepancies in final test scores can occur in computer-based tests which allocate scores by using negative marking strategies. Whilst allocation of negative marks for incorrect answers was one of the options of the new program, not all of these negative marks were reflected in the calculation of final test scores. Investigation of the computer program under consideration revealed that a setting has to be activated prior to running the assessment, in order for each item’s negative mark to be added to the final score. If this is not done, a subtotal of zero is assigned to each item with an overall negative score for its components. This is referred to as ‘internal negative marking’ (Cook, 2010). The result of this manoeuvre is the discrepancies in the scores obtained. We are aware of at least one other computerised assessment program that calculates test scores in the same way. We are aware too, of other medical schools which deliberately do not carry over negative marks obtained in individual items to the final score, in the belief that marks lost out of ignorance in one area should not

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79 adversely affect marks gained from knowledge in another area (TS, personal communication). Negative marking is designed to discourage, or at least to adjust for, random guessing (Holt, 2006). We argue that for the formula to have the desired effect, one mark should be deducted for each incorrect answer. A system that does not carry individual items’ negative marks to the final score is less effective in discouraging guessing. If the penalty for guessing is not both sufficient in magnitude and consistently applied, it may allow strategic students to leave out parts of the curriculum when studying. In a given item covering material that they have not studied and for which they may have to guess all the true/false statements, they can count on at least some negative marks not being carried over to the final mark. At the same time, they hope to score well on items that they have studied. This marking scheme conveys a relative advantage on those students with knowledge in only some areas of the syllabus over those students with a broader spread of knowledge in all areas of the syllabus. Adjusting the pass mark We are aware of yet another university that has taken a different approach: it uses true/false questions and allocates no negative marks. This has the effect of reducing the useable range of marks from 0-100 to 50-100, thus allowing less discrimination between students of different ability (Pamplett and Farnill, 1995). A mark of 75% then represents a pass. Since our university has decided that the pass mark for all modules is 50%, we are constrained to use negative marking to achieve a mark range of 0-100%. In general, the higher the pass mark and the greater the number of options, the smaller the impact of random guessing. Thus the former university referred to above has elected to use true/false questions – effectively two options – with a ‘random guess score’ of 50%. Setting the pass mark at a score of 50% under such circumstances would be ridiculous without negative marking, since a student with no knowledge at all could be expected to answer 50% of the questions correctly by chance. Setting the pass mark at 75% (50% along the useable mark range) is their way of negating the effect of random guessing. Yet another approach would be to avoid true/false questions and to use, say, five-option MCQs; this would allow a score of 20% from random guessing, so setting a pass mark of 50% would be less unreasonable (although a pass mark of 60%, being 50% along the useable mark range, would be more accurate). However, this comes at the cost of a smaller range of meaningful marks, and thus a diminished ability to distinguish between students of differing academic ability. Inconsistencies arising from ‘internal negative marking’ In the computer-based test program under consideration, the problem of individual items’ negative marks not being carried over to the final score can be avoided by activation of a setting. The program could thus be useful to us in the future. However, it is of concern that the possibility exists – and may be deliberately chosen – not to carry over each item’s negative marks to the final score. As can be seen from our students’ scripts, the discrepancy introduced by rounding up items’ negative scores to zero is not uniform. It favours those with lower scores – logically, since they have more wrong answers, which attract negative marks. This can be seen as being helpful to weaker students; it can also be seen as giving them – and their examiners – a false sense of their academic ability. The extreme is illustrated by scripts A and B. Each got 50% of the answers correct, but rounding every question item’s negative score to zero is patently unfair, since that results in a discrepancy of 37.3% between the two, with one ‘student’ passing and the other failing. While script A is an extreme – and probably unrealistic – example, it highlights the same unfairness as illustrated by scripts 007 and 008 in our initial sample. Both of these scored 37.3% with all negative scores included. With rounding up to zero within items, script 007 then scored 41.3% and script 008 scored 43.3%. A 2% difference could represent the difference between one student being granted a supplementary paper and the other – able to answer the same number of questions correctly – not crossing that threshold. Not only is this unfair, it

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80 reduces the reliability of the assessment – two students answering 56 questions correctly received different scores. Furthermore scripts 002 and 003 each obtained 81.3% in the original test but this changes to 83.3% in the computerised version. This has now brought these students to the top of the class, as the mark of script 001 changed from 82% to 83%. This further highlights the unfairness of this system. If one argues that ‘students’ A and B both deserve to pass because they have answered 50% of the questions correctly, one must not only reconcile their widely disparate scores in the ‘item rounding’ marking scheme. The fact remains that the number of their correct and incorrect answers cannot be distinguished from those of a person who knows nothing about the assessment material at all and answers at random. From the point of view of their future professions, one has to consider that for the 50% that they ‘know’, there is another 50% that they think they know – but this ‘knowledge’ is incorrect. It is important for educated people to know their limitations – to know what they know and to know what they do not know and with which they need help. The student, who answers only 50% of the questions, but all of them correctly, will arguably make a safer doctor, a more reliable engineer, a more trustworthy accountant, than the one who answers 50% correctly and 50% incorrectly.

CONCLUSION While the literature correctly identifies several important criteria for an adequate assessment, it can be argued that these requirements relate ultimately to the fairness of the procedure – its ability to reflect accurately the ability of the examinees being assessed. This study does not primarily address the relative validity or reliability of MCQ types compared to other instruments, nor enters into the details of the debate on negative marking. It does affirm that, if negative marking is to be used, particularly for true/false questions, prescribed negative marking should be applied consistently throughout an assessment. From the actual and constructed examples used, we argue that ‘item rounding’ or ‘internal negative marking’ is neither reliable nor fair. The theory behind item rounding – not allowing an examinee’s lack of knowledge in one area to detract from knowledge in another area – is initially persuasive. However, its outworking in practice detracts from the adequacy of assessment and, for the ‘exam-savvy’ student, may encourage ‘spotting’ of certain areas of knowledge and avoidance of others. This study exposes weaknesses not originally apparent, and we argue that the carrying over of all negative marks to the final test score is essential for accurate, reliable assessment, fairness to students and fairness to those who rely on their future judgement.

REFERENCES Akdemir, O. and Oguz, A. (2008) ‘Computer-based testing: An alternative for the assessment of Turkish undergraduate students’ Computers & Education 51 pp.1198-1204. Bandaranayake, R., Payne, J. and White, S. (1999) ‘Using multiple response true-false multiple choice questions’ Australian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery 69 pp.311-315. Bauer, D., Holzer, M., Kopp, V. and Fischer, M.R. (2011) ‘Pick-N multiple choice-exams: a comparison of scoring algorithms’ Advances in Health Science Education 16 pp.211-221. Bernardo, J.M. (1998) ‘A decision analysis approach to multiple-choice examinations’ In F.J. Giron (Eds.) Applied Decision Analysis. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic. Betts, L.R., Elder, T.J., Hartley, J. and Trueman, M. (2009) ‘Does correction for guessing reduce students’ performance on multiple-choice examinations? Yes? No? Sometimes?’ Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 34(1) pp.1-15.

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81 Brady, A.M. (2005) ‘Assessment of learning with multiple-choice questions’ Nurse Education in Practice 5 pp.238–242. Bugbee, J. and Alan, C. (1996) ‘The equivalence of paper-and-pencil and computer-based testing’ Journal of Research on Computing in Education 28(3) pp.282-299. Burton, R.F. (2004) ‘Multiple choice and true/false tests: reliability measures and some implications of negative marking’ Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 29(5) pp.585-595. Burton, R.F. (2005) ‘Multiple-choice and true/false tests: myths and misapprehensions’ Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 30(1) pp.65-72. Carneson, J., Delpierre, G. and Masters, K. (1996) ‘Designing and Managing MCQs’ Centre for Educational Technology (CET), University of Cape Town. http://web.uct.ac.za/projects/cbe/mcqman/ mcqchp3.html (Accessed 12 May 2012). Chang, S.H, Lin, P.C. and Lin, Z.C. (2007) ‘Measures of partial knowledge and unexpected responses in multiple-choice tests’ Educational Technology & Society 10(4) pp.95-109. Cisar, S.M., Cisar, P. and Pinter, R. (2009) ‘True/false questions analysis using computerized certaintybased marking tests’ IEEE pp.171-174. Collins, J. (2006) ‘Education techniques for lifelong learning: Writing multiple-choice questions for continuing medical education activities and self-assessment modules’ Radiographics 26 pp.543-551. Cook, J. (2010) ‘Getting started with e-assessment’ Project Report. Bath: University of Bath. http://opus. bath.ac.uk/17712/1/Getting_started_with_e-assessment_14Jan2010.pdf (Accessed 10 June 2010). Davies, P. (2000) ‘Computerised peer assessment’ Innovations in Education and Training International 37(4) pp.346-355. Fowell, S.L. and Jolly, B. (2000) ‘Combining marks, scores and grades. Reviewing common practices reveals some bad habits’ Medical Education 34 pp.785-786. Goldik, Z. (2008) ‘Abandoning negative marking’ European Journal of Anaesthesiology 25 pp.349-351. Hammond, E.J., McIndoe, A.K., Sansome, A.J. and Spargo, P.M. (1998) ‘Multiple-choice examination: adopting an evidence based approach to exam technique’ Anaesthesia 53 pp.1105-1108. Hannan, A, English, S. and Silver, H. (1999) ‘Why Innovate: Some preliminary findings from a research project on Innovations in teaching and learning in higher education’ Studies in Higher Education 24(3) pp.279-289. Holsgrove, G. (1992) ‘Guide to post graduate exams: multiple choice questions’ British Journal of Hospital Medicine 48(11) pp.757-761. Holt, A. (2006) ‘An analysis of negative marking in multiple-choice assessment’ In S. Mann and N. Bridgeman (Eds.) 28th Annual Conference of the National Advisory Committee on Computing Qualifications (NACCQ 2006). Wellington, New Zealand.

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82 Imperial College. (2012) Guidance on using multiple choice questions (MCQ) in assessment. http:// www.studynet2.herts.ac.uk/intranet/lti.nsf/Teaching+Documents/840F6136E87D0594802577A1004 820AF/$FILE/Guidance%20on%20Using%20Multiple%20Choice%20Questions%20(MCQ)%20in%20 Assessment.pdf (Accessed 23 April 2012). Jennings, S. and Bush, M. (2006) ’A comparison of conventional and liberal (free-choice) multiple-choice tests’ Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation (8) pp.1-5. http://pareonline.net/getvn.asp?v=11&n=8 (Accessed 22 April 2012). Manogue, M., Kelly, M., Bartakova Masaryk, S., Brown, G., Catalanotto, F., Choo-Soo, T., Delap, E., Godoroja, P., Morio, I., Rotgans, J. and Saag, M. (2002) ‘Evolving methods of assessment’ European Journal of Dental Education 6 (Suppl 3) pp.53–66. McCoubrie, P. (2004) ‘Improving the fairness of multiple-choice questions: a literature review’ Medical Teacher 26(8) pp.709-712. McHarg, J., Bradley, P., Chamberlain, S., Ricketts, C., Searle, J. and McLachlan, J.C. (2005) Assessment of progress tests’ Medical Education 39(2) pp.221-227. Morrison, S., and Free, K.W. (2001) ‘Writing multiple-choice test items that promote and measure critical thinking’ Journal of Nursing Education 40(1) pp.17-24. Moss, E. (2001) ‘Multiple choice questions: their value as an assessment tool’ Current opinion in anaesthesiology 14(6) pp.661-666. Pamplett, R. and Farnill, D. (1995) ‘Effect of anxiety on performance in multiple-choice examination’ Medical Education 29 pp.298-302. Peak, P. (2005) ‘Recent Trends in Comparability Studies’ In Pearson Education Management Research Report 05-05 http://www.pemsolutions.com/downloads/research/TrendsCompStudies_rr0505.pdf (Accessed 10 June 2010). Smoline, D.V. (2008) ‘Some problems of computer-aided testing and “interview-like tests”’ Computers & Education 51 pp.743-756. Zakrzewski, S. and Steven, C. (2003) ‘Computer-based assessment: quality assurance issues, the hub of the wheel’ Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 28(6) pp.609-623. Zimmerman, D.W. and Williams, R.H. (2003) ‘A new look at the influence of guessing on the reliability of multiple-choice tests’ Applied Psychological Measurement 27(5) pp.357-371.

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83 Developing a framework for managing academic standards, quality and enhancement: addressing concerns and embedding good practice1 Melinda Drowley - Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, UK Helen Marshall - University of Salford, UK

ABSTRACT The British Council’s project Excellence in Higher Education (2005-2010) demonstrated that countries in the Arab region, facing challenges in developing academic quality systems, benefited from sharing experiences with one another and with other countries. This paper suggests that the concept of an overarching framework for managing academic standards, quality and enhancement, now embedded in the UK, could be of assistance in the Arab region. Findings from institutional audits in the UK, Bahrain and Oman were compared, revealing that many recommendations made in UK reports also featured in reports about Bahrain and Oman. Actions taken by UK institutions may therefore be of interest in these contexts. A framework designed by a UK university, using the concept of ‘gatekeepers’ for those with executive responsibility to manage academic standards and quality and ‘gateways’ for committees that assure academic standards and quality, is presented to illustrate essential components of an overarching framework.1

INTRODUCTION Reflecting on a special issue of Quality in Higher Education, which focused on quality developments in the Gulf, Stephen Jackson of the UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) observed that ‘the logic of cooperation is compelling’, especially for smaller countries who need the support of their neighbours to establish themselves in a global higher education context (Jackson, 2009: 86). The special issue was one outcome from the British Council’s programme Excellence in Higher Education. The success of this programme, which ran from 2005-2010, demonstrated that countries contending with issues specific to their local contexts found it helpful to share experiences with other countries in the region and around the world as they developed their quality assurance systems (D’Andrea, 2009: 2). For example, Oman’s progress in developing its quality assurance system was assisted variously by the establishment of the Arab Network of Quality Assurance in Higher Education which provided a mechanism for developing an Arabic-English glossary; by drawing on models of quality audit developed by the QAA and the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA); and by benchmarking several national higher education systems in order to determine the components of an effective approach (Caroll et al., 2009). This paper is offered in the same spirit of cooperation and practicality, building upon the role played by the QAA, UK in the Excellence in Higher Education programme. The research underpinning it was driven 1 Date of Submission 28 August 2013 Date of Acceptance 16 January 2014

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84 by interest in the challenges facing Bahrain and Oman higher education sectors in the next phase of their development and whether recent developments in the UK could assist in meeting them. The paper considers 14 institutional reviews conducted by the Higher Education Review Unit (HERU) of the Quality Assurance Authority for Education and Training (QAAET) (now the National Authority for Qualifications and Quality Assurance of Education and Training (QQA) in Bahrain between 2008-2012 and 30 institutional reviews conducted by the Oman Academic Accreditation Authority (OAAA) between 2009-2012, in light of the findings of 205 institutional audits conducted by the QAA in England over the last decade. Key issues for the Bahrain and Oman higher education (HE) sectors are identified. In considering how they might be addressed, the authors draw on recent developments in quality management in the UK and their own experience of developing and implementing a comprehensive framework for managing academic standards, quality and enhancement in a UK university.

LEARNING FROM INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW AND AUDIT Since 2005, the QAA has produced several series of working papers to provide higher education institutions (HEIs) and other interested parties with information about the findings of successive rounds of institutional audit. Known as Outcomes from institutional audit (Outcomes... for short), these papers describe features of good practice and summarise recommendations made by audit teams to remedy shortcomings. Outcomes... papers do not, however, take matters further and recommend changes in practice to the sector as a whole. This article is a working paper which, like a mini-QAA Outcomes… paper, describes features of good practice and summarises concerns expressed by HERU and OAAA panels which conducted reviews in Bahrain and Oman respectively. Unlike the Outcomes… papers, however, this paper does take matters a stage further and recommends a development in practice to HEIs in Bahrain and Oman. The authors suggest that many concerns identified by HERU and OAAA panels could be addressed if institutions developed an overarching framework for the management of academic standards, quality and enhancement, adapted to their own particular mission, vision and context. The paper explores a model overarching framework recently implemented in the UK, illustrating how it could be tailored to the needs of a variety of individual institutions in the context of the relatively new and rapidly evolving HE sector in the Middle East (Al-Atiqi & Alharbi, 2009).

THE EMERGENCE OF THE CONCEPT OF AN OVERARCHING FRAMEWORK FOR MANAGING ACADEMIC STANDARDS, QUALITY AND ENHANCEMENT The QAAET, OAAA and QAA each set out their basis for institutional/quality review/audit in handbooks (QAAET, 2009; OAAA, 2007; QAA, 2002; 2006; 2009). Disparity in the maturity of the Bahrain, Oman and UK higher education sectors notwithstanding, all three authorities made it clear they expected their respective national institutions to make comprehensive and coherent arrangements for managing academic standards, quality and enhancement. This expectation provided the starting point for our exploration. The concept of a single overarching institutional framework for the management of academic standards, quality and enhancement emerged only gradually over the last decade in the UK. The Handbook for Institutional Audit: England, (QAA, 2002) used a variety of terms to describe means by which HEIs manage academic standards and quality. These terms were mostly expressed in the plural, as in ‘arrangements’, ‘mechanisms’, ‘structures’, ‘processes’, ‘procedures’, ‘methods’, ‘systems’ and ‘features’. The singular terms ‘approach’ and ‘framework’ appeared only once in an annex to the main text. This suggests that, 10 years ago, quality management systems in UK institutions consisted of collections of disparate processes and committees rather than coherent, integrated frameworks, a supposition borne out by reading the Outcomes...papers.

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85 Analysis of the Institutional Review Handbook: Kingdom of Bahrain, (QAAET, 2009) reveals a similar pattern. Further analysis of 14 institutional review reports, published by HERU between 2008-2012, indicates review panels continued employing multiple terms when reporting on management of academic standards and quality including: ‘process(es) (538 instances); ‘policies’ and/or ‘procedures’ (430 instances) ‘system(s)’ (320 instances); ‘mechanism(s)’ (153 instances); ‘structure(s) (147 instances); ‘arrangement(s)’ (67 instances); and ‘framework(s)’ (64 instances). The Oman reports present a similar picture. When the QAA published its first Outcomes... papers on the management of academic standards, quality and enhancement in 2006, the concept of the framework had clearly acquired currency, to the extent that it was enshrined in the title of the paper. One key finding affirmed that ‘institutional frameworks for managing quality and standards were sound’ (QAA, 2006: 18 emphasis ours). The use of the plural ‘frameworks’ was significant, however, for it was not yet a single overarching framework that the QAA seemed to be envisaging. The Handbook for Institutional Audit: England and Northern Ireland (QAA, 2006) prompts institutions to describe not one but two separate frameworks; one for managing academic standards and another for managing the quality of learning opportunities (QAA, 2006: 28). Despite this, the second Outcomes... paper on the topic, (QAA, 2008) seemed to refer primarily to integrated frameworks. When the next Handbook for Institutional Audit: England and Northern Ireland was published (QAA, 2009) the notion of the overarching framework had become well established. Institutions were required to provide brief descriptions of their overall framework for managing academic standards and the quality of learning opportunities. This information now formed part of the introduction to the self-evaluation document, taking pride of place alongside statements about the institution’s mission. The third series of Outcomes… papers did not include a paper dedicated to findings about institutional frameworks for managing academic standards and quality but instead reverted to considering management of academic standards and management of learning opportunities (or quality) respectively in two separate, though linked, publications (QAA, 2011a; 2011c) with an additional paper on external involvement in quality management (QAA, 2011b). This can be read as an indication that the interconnectedness of systems for managing academic standards and quality was now embedded and attention needed to be focused not on the overarching framework but on how management of standards and management of learning opportunities within the framework are ‘fundamentally different tasks’ in practice (QAA, 2011c: 6). Over a nine-year period, there had been a marked shift away from quality management by means of collections of disparate processes and committees towards development of integrated frameworks. Within these frameworks, deliberative roles of committees that determine policy and monitor its effectiveness, and executive roles of individuals with authority and responsibility for implementing policy, were located in relation to one another.

METHODOLOGY The methodology adopted for analysis of the Bahrain institutional review reports was modelled on the approach taken by the authors of the QAA’s Outcomes... papers (QAA, 2006: 29; 2011a: 50). All 14 reports were uploaded into QSR NVivo 10, a software package for qualitative research. Their contents were initially coded using selected quality review indicators found in the HERU Institutional Review Handbook for the Kingdom of Bahrain (QAAET, 2009: 15-20), chosen on the grounds that they seemed likely to be of relevance to a study of frameworks for managing academic standards, quality and enhancement. Further sub-coding identified sub-categories of findings within individual indicators and tagged matters of concern and features of good practice. The findings from this analysis were then considered in the light of QAA’s Outcomes... papers, the authors’ own reading of the quality audit reports

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86 from Oman and a study of the Oman reports by Razvi, Goodliffe and Al Habsi (2013), which compared outcomes in Oman and Bahrain. OUTCOMES FROM INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW IN BAHRAIN, 2008–2012 AND QUALITY AUDIT IN OMAN, 2009-2012 Since the QAAET was established in 2007, HERU has been conducting ‘whole institution’ quality reviews across all HEIs operating within Bahrain. The purpose of review is to ‘assess the effectiveness of an institution’s quality assurance arrangements against a pre-defined set of 25 quality indicators and identify areas of strength and weakness’ (QAAET, 2009: 7). The quality indicators were grouped into nine themes: mission, planning and governance (five indicators); academic standards (six indicators); quality assurance and enhancement (one indicator); quality of teaching and learning (three indicators); student support (one indicator); human resources (three indicators); infrastructure, physical and other resources (three indicators); research (two indicators); and community engagement (one indicator). To assist institutions in understanding and operationalising indicators, the handbook supplies a set of expectations for each one. HERU had placed indicators that seemed most likely to yield insights into the effectiveness of frameworks for managing academic standards, quality and enhancement under the themes of mission, planning and governance; academic standards; quality assurance and enhancement; and quality of teaching and learning. These prompted HERU panel members to consider inter alia whether institutions had: a clearly stated mission and sound strategic planning process; a strong concern for academic standards and integrity; a clear organisational and management structure; a comprehensive suite of policies and regulations; sound governance and management practices; appropriate programme structures and credit hours; rigorous admissions criteria; formal agreements with partner institutions; clearly formulated learning outcomes tested by a fit-for-purpose assessment regime; a well-defined approach to quality assurance and enhancement; rigorous processes for programme approval and review; and established mechanisms for gathering and responding to student feedback. While much of the material reported in this paper was provided in sections of the HERU reports dealing with the four selected themes, other sections of the reports, notably those addressing the themes of student support and research, provided detailed illustrations of how institutional policies and procedures worked at the operational level. For this reason, all reports were read in their entirety and findings coded under the most appropriate category. Several features of good practice concerning frameworks for managing academic standards, quality and enhancement were identified by HERU panels and received formal commendations. These included: • comprehensiveness and inclusivity of strategic and operational plans • comprehensiveness and effectiveness of policies and procedures • autonomy of the academic operation • rigour of admission criteria • robustness of partnership arrangements • comprehensiveness and pervasiveness of quality culture • rigour of programme approval and review processes. Impressive as this list is, commendations were awarded to few institutions. This is not surprising given that international standards were being applied rigorously to an immature sector, which had not had time to develop the culture and acquire the status enjoyed by those whose standards Bahrain had adopted. The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


87 It could be argued that quality audit reports in Oman take a more developmental approach. They do not reach pass/fail judgements but rather feedback is structured according to nine broad areas of activity and presented as formal commendations, affirmations and recommendations, or as informal suggestions, each accompanied with explanatory paragraphs. Institutions are expected to act upon this feedback as part of their continuous efforts to provide the best possible education to students. The OAAA grouped quality indicators into nine themes: governance and management (13 indicators); student learning by coursework programme (11 indicators); student learning by research programmes (1 indicator); staff research and consultancy (9 indicators); industry and community engagement (6 indicators); academic support services (7 indicators); students and student support services (10 indicators) and general support services and facilities. To assist institutions, OAAA provided an Audit Handbook which sets out the scope of the audit and provides ‘guidance’ as opposed to ‘standards’ on how each theme or topic should be addressed. Several features of good practice relating to frameworks for managing academic standards, quality and enhancement were identified by OAAA panels and received formal commendations. These included: • success of institutional affiliations with international HEIs and the positive impact this has on Oman HEIs

steps taken to address risk management

developing relationships with industry sectors and employers

staff induction processes.

Commendations in reports tended to focus on strategy, governance and community relationships. Few commendations mentioned academic standards and associated aspects of practice, such as curriculum design or assessment practice. Again this should not come as a surprise in a relatively new, developing sector. It is debateable whether it is either fair or illuminating to discuss the HERU and OAAA reports in the context of the QAA audit reports, given that the UK sector is very mature while the Bahrain and Oman higher education sectors are new and operate in a very different context where the majority of institutions are for-profit private organisations. The case can be made, however, that the fundamental principles underpinning quality assurance apply regardless of maturity, context or corporate form. The Arab region is not alone in facing these challenges. There is evidence (Weber, Mahfooz, & Hovde, 2010) that higher education systems in the developed world that include a significant proportion of private institutions tend to apply rigorous accreditation processes to ensure that governance and management arrangements are acceptable. In the Swiss system, for example, strict accreditation processes are combined with more traditional quality assurance processes for academic standards and quality. A reading of the Outcomes… papers suggests it might indeed be helpful to compare findings, on the grounds that, notwithstanding differences in status, maturity and corporate forms, the Bahrain, Oman and UK higher education sectors were all wrestling with similar issues during the same period. The gradual emergence in the UK of the concept of an overarching framework for the management of academic standards, quality and enhancement has already been noted. The first Outcomes… paper pointed out that ‘reports described frameworks which were new, or redesigned, and largely untested’ (QAA, 2006: 1). The second Outcomes… paper stated that ‘not uncommonly, existing frameworks had not long been in place or new frameworks were in the course of being implemented’ (QAA, 2008: 1). The emphasis had changed when the third series of Outcomes… papers was published. Rather than commenting on the ‘newness’ of frameworks, audit reports had noted that many were operating in the context of ‘significant structural or other change’ and urged institutions to ‘avoid jeopardising the robust nature of existing The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


88 systems as a consequence of changes’ (QAA, 2011a: 5). At the end of the decade, the verdict on institutional frameworks was overwhelmingly positive with 23 related features of good practice identified across 76 institutions. There were, however, 38 recommendations made about this aspect of quality management and in four cases these recommendations contributed to negative judgements of ‘limited confidence’ (QAA, 2011a: 5). In contrast, the verdict of HERU panels on Bahrain institutions’ management of academic standards, quality and enhancement was overwhelmingly negative. Scrutiny of this central aspect of operation gave rise to 12 commendations and 121 recommendations, several of which signalled that academic standards were already seriously compromised and required urgent remedial action. Follow-up HERU reports chart efforts institutions made to address the issues quickly. Analysis shows, however, that in the majority of cases essential components of a framework to manage academic standards and quality were missing, non-operational or only partially operational. Six institutions were functioning without meaningful strategic plans and a further four lacked the necessary supporting plans, strategies, policies, procedures and performance indicators required to render their overall strategic plans operational. Most significant among these missing elements were first, policies and procedures for promoting academic integrity and dealing with cases of plagiarism among both students and staff (seven recommendations); secondly, policies and procedures for programme approval, monitoring and periodic review (14 recommendations); and thirdly, assessment policies and procedures (11 recommendations). In other cases, policies had been implemented but unevenly. Concerns about assessment policies and procedures posed the most immediate threat to academic standards. In three cases, the integrity of examination processes was questioned. There was widespread evidence that the sector as a whole was struggling to make a rapid adjustment to a learning outcomes approach. A number of recommendations urged institutions to pay attention to developing assessment criteria in keeping with this approach and to applying internal and external moderation processes rigorously to safeguard academic standards. Where essential components of a framework were in place in Bahrain they were often operating suboptimally for a variety of reasons including: top-down approaches to strategic and operational planning and/or policy development and implementation; failure to include and engage key internal and external stakeholders; resistance or even hostility of academic teaching staff to change; patchy dissemination; lack of connection between planning, resource allocation and the academic operation; insufficient use of external reference points including international benchmarking; and failure to accommodate the strategies, policies and procedures of a parent organisation to the local context. In the OAAA reports, essential components of a framework were found to be in place but were regularly reported as either not yet ‘fully-fledged’ or as being implemented inconsistently across institutions. Recommendations ranged from simple matters like systematic scheduling and implementation of curriculum reviews to stronger roles for Academic Council in ensuring the consistent implementation of academic policies throughout the institution. The majority of recommendations focused closely on the further development of management capacity and a framework of policy and practice promoting consistent implementation of good practice across institutions. Concerns raised in the Outcomes… papers tended to focus on sub-optimal operation of different components of frameworks, rather than their absence in whole or part. Both the first and the second series emphasised the importance of ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal’ links as ‘key to institutions’ development and evaluation of quality assurance systems’ (QAA, 2006: 9). Vertical links refer to relationships between roles and responsibilities at the centre of institutions and those located locally at faculty, programme or even module/unit level. Horizontal links refer to networks that make connections across a tier of operation, simultaneously strengthening hierarchical, vertical structures. These networks may be informal,

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89 for example where people with parallel roles get together to share experiences, or formal, for example where membership of faculty boards includes members of another faculty. Relationships involved in vertical and horizontal links include structural relationships between committees and groups; procedural relationships as processes move up and/or down hierarchical tiers; and executive relationships between individual post-holders, personally accountable for discharging specific responsibilities. A number of concerns about vertical links raised in the Outcomes… papers resonate with concerns expressed in the HERU reports about organisational structure and the autonomy of the academic operation. Problems arose in the UK when reporting lines between the delivery point of learning and teaching and the centre were over-extended or fractured. Several HERU reports describe problems of this nature in the Bahrain sector where disjunctures between senior executive managers and academic leaders effectively disempowered faculties, leaving deans and other academic leaders unable to make decisions about matters like budget expenditure and staffing. In both the UK and Bahrain concerns were raised about overloading key members of staff by placing unrealistic expectations upon their roles. Both QAA and HERU report instances of over-dependence on a small core of senior managers to deliver quality assurance. Several institutions in Bahrain carried large numbers of vacancies, had senior staff fulfilling multiple roles and/or lacked position specifications and clear reporting lines. Interestingly, this issue does not feature prominently in recent Oman reports. In the UK, concerns about structural relationships between committees and groups were usually triggered by failure to make a formal separation between executive and deliberative functions. As a consequence staff were confused about their roles and responsibilities and uncertain how matters should proceed through committee structures. The second Outcomes… paper noted that several institutions were beginning to ‘mirror’ institutional level committees and groups at faculty level. In Bahrain concern was often expressed that an excessive amount of power was vested in the President, weakening the authority the Board of Trustees and/or Senate/Academic Board and consequently blurring boundaries between governance and management as well as boundaries between management and the academic operation. Occasionally, when such concerns arose, they were complicated by further failure to separate powers of ownership or commercial interest from the academic operation. Concerns of this nature have been raised in Oman, for example in the report on Al Buraimi University College, In more recent reports, however, favourable comments have been made about improvements, such as the approach to the separation of academic management and governance adopted by the University of Nizwa. The three series of Outcomes… papers chart the development in securing student representation and engagement at all levels in UK institutions. In the first series, full or extensive representation of students within an institution was noted and presented to the sector as a feature of good practice in itself. The second series reported a proportionate increase in features of good practice but now the examples presented were of strikingly innovative practice in engaging students. Having secured a general level of engagement, attention was turning to ensuring that the diversity of the student body was represented. When the third series was published, student representation had become the norm. Audit reports now drew attention to difficulties some institutions experienced getting student representation at the level of the faculty, having secured engagement at the levels of the institution and course/subject. In Bahrain there is evidence that institutions found it challenging to make the rapid cultural shift needed to fulfil HERU’s requirement that ‘students are able to participate in decision-making through, for example, a student association or representation on relevant committees, such as the governing body or faculty committees’ (QAAET, 2009: 16). While most institutions had a student council or equivalent, these were more likely to be concerned with social functions and involvement in decision-making was at best patchy. Over 30% of Oman institutions received recommendations in relation to inadequate social and

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90 recreational services but little is said about student participation in decision-making (Razvi, Goodliffe and Al Habsi, 2013). Equally challenging was HERU’s requirement that each institution ‘monitors the satisfaction of students and alumni with the quality of programmes and the quality of their learning experience, and takes action to improve student satisfaction’ (QAAET, 2009: 22). In some institutions, claims that surveys had been undertaken could not be substantiated. Where they had been carried out, they had not always been effectively analysed and used for enhancement, nor were students always clear about their intended purpose. More than 25% of Oman HEIs received an affirmation and more than 25% a recommendation in relation to student satisfaction (Razvi et al., 2013). Panels noted that a number of HEIs lacked the mechanisms required to collect and analyse data of this sort (Goodliffe and Razvi, 2011). A tendency for surveys to focus on the performance of teaching faculty to the exclusion of other aspects of the learning experience suggests this weakness may be symptomatic of difficulties institutions were experiencing in adopting a learning outcomes approach. Within a learning outcomes approach, ‘input’ of staff becomes just one element among many, while students are seen as co-producers of learning and partners in quality, rather than passive recipients. DEVELOPING AN OVERARCHING FRAMEWORK FOR MANAGING ACADEMIC STANDARDS, QUALITY AND ENHANCEMENT What do the Outcomes… papers OAAA and HERU reports tell us about the characteristics of a sound framework for managing academic standards, quality and enhancement? In summary, the Outcomes… papers identify the following themes: the centre’s links with and overview of local operations; local ownership of policy and procedures; clarity and appropriateness of responsibilities; effectiveness of committee structures; consistency and parity of student experience; externality and external reference points; and development and evaluation of quality management systems (QAA, 2008: 7). Echoing and adding to this list, the HERU and OAAA reports indicate a sound framework should be: fit for the purposes of the individual institution; located within a clearly articulated structure for decision-making; embedded in a pervasive and inclusive culture of quality, which involves students and administrative staff as well as academics and senior managers; widely understood; consistently applied on a cyclical basis; fully documented; and informed by systematic data analysis. Two years ago, the authors tried to apply what they had learned from previous experience in the UK to the task of designing just such an overarching framework for a UK university (University X). Like several institutions mentioned in the third series of Outcomes… papers, University X was in danger of developing ‘undue complexity and lack of transparency in the committee structure, with ill-defined responsibilities, making for inefficient and ineffective processes’ (QAA, 2008: 12). When committees made decisions it was not always clear which post-holder(s) carried responsibility for their execution. Reporting lines from faculty level committees were unclear, since some reported to Faculty Board while others bypassed this level and reported directly to institutional level committees. The location of collaborative provision within quality assurance systems was sometimes ambiguous, subject to both central and local oversight yet capable of slipping between them. In short, several criticisms recorded elsewhere in this paper could have been levelled at University X. Rationalising systems required a return to basic design principles and it is by sharing these principles, rather than imposing a particular model, that the authors hope to be of assistance to others in similar circumstances. The development of the framework at University X began with articulation of a central design principle which had previously been either unspoken or absent from University X’s quality systems. All parties agreed to differentiate clearly between the nature of the roles of executive post-holders with responsibility for academic standards, quality and enhancement and the nature of the roles of university and faculty level

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91 committees, to whom these post-holders reported on quality matters. The framework would be predicated on the principle that executive post-holders manage academic quality (the ‘gatekeepers’) and committees (the ‘gateways’) assure the university that academic quality is being managed in line with its expectations. To render effective this differentiation between executive post-holders and committees, University Senate/ Academic Board took overall responsibility for ensuring essential components were in place, including:

• a coherent committee structure with appropriate terms of reference that facilitate reporting and verification of outcomes

• a suite of policies stating how University X sets and verifies academic standards and quality across the student lifecycle from admission to graduation

•  clear allocation of authority and responsibility to executive post-holders and committees for decision-making and reporting

• transparent procedures and processes that implement agreed policy and drive consistent decisions across University X with designated executive post-holders carrying authority and responsibility for their execution

• systematic processes for producing robust and reliable evidence which executive post-holders can present to university and faculty committees to assure University X that its intentions for academic standards and quality, as set out in its policies, are being carried out.

The framework was conceived as a construction with a vertical axis divided into rows to accommodate the different tiers operating at University X and a horizontal axis divided into three columns representing academic standards, quality and enhancement respectively. This structure allowed University X to create policies and processes aligned with the essentials listed above and ensure that authority, responsibility and accountability were appropriately mapped and distributed between executive post-holders and deliberative committees. Each column was subdivided into two further columns labelled ‘gatekeeper’ (the executive post-holder) and ‘gateway’ (the relevant committee). ‘Gatekeeper’ signified the designated executive post-holder with overall responsibility for managing academic standards, quality or enhancement, as appropriate at a particular tier of operation. ‘Gateway’ signified the deliberative committee concerned with academic standards, quality or enhancement, as appropriate, operating at a particular level, through which the designated executive post-holder would exercise responsibility. The next step was to identify the tiers operating at University X and locate them on the vertical axis. At a minimum it is likely that any institution will have two such tiers: institutional and course level. Different institutions will have different combinations of additional tiers including: module/unit; programme; subject; faculty; and/or school or college. University X identified four tiers: module; course; faculty; and university. Finally, columns were populated with post-holders, committees and reporting/dissemination lines. This process revealed gaps, duplication, blurred boundaries and inconsistencies which had to be remedied. The remit of faculty committees was adjusted to ensure they ‘mirrored’ their university counterparts. The model was tested iteratively as each quality process was mapped against it. The basic framework can be found below as Appendix 1: an example of how a particular quality process (programme approval and periodic review) mapped on to the model is provided as Appendix 2. Comprehensive quality manuals with supporting documentation were subsequently produced, mapping all quality processes on to the framework and illustrating how it applied to taught undergraduate and postgraduate provision, research degrees and to the different forms of collaborative activity in which University X was engaged. Job specifications, organisation charts and terms of reference and membership of committees were all systematically amended to reflect accurately the roles, responsibilities and reporting lines charted by the framework. Processes were streamlined and a simple but robust evidence base was developed to support the reporting of outcomes.

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92 Development and implementation of this framework required significant leadership from senior staff across University X. Introduction of the framework met with resistance from some staff who regarded aspects of it with suspicion. Their reaction echoes findings by O’Mahony & Garavan (2012: 61) that ‘quality management systems emphasise a culture of managerialism in higher education’ and ‘evoke a mixed reaction from academics in particular.’ Our experience following implementation has been mainly positive. Staff comment on reduced levels of bureaucracy and greater speed, transparency and clarity of decision-making. Less positive responses have come from executive post-holders with responsibility for bringing about improvement in areas where the framework has produced evidence of underperformance. This discomfort is, nevertheless, evidence that ‘links between accountability mechanisms and quality improvement’ have been clarified (Houston, 2008: 184).

CONCLUSION Two dominant themes emerge from the HERU and OAAA panels’ recommendations about institutions’ quality management systems: first that they should be comprehensive and integrated into the full range of institutional activities; and second that they should manifest continuous quality improvement rather than compliance to external regulatory requirements. Ironically, it is possible HERU has itself contributed to a culture of compliance by suggesting it may be ‘helpful if institutions comment on most if not all of (the 142) expectations in their self-evaluation’ (QAAET, 2009: 15). This may have encouraged institutions to ‘tick boxes’ rather than take a considered overview in the context of their particular mission and strategic direction. This would not be a surprising reaction in a new higher education sector, subject for the first time to a stringent institutional review process predicated uncompromisingly on international standards. The approach in Oman seemed rather more developmental, leading to formative than summative outcomes as the first stage of a two-stage institutional accreditation process (Razvi et al., 2013). Nevertheless panels reported ‘vestiges of a tick-box culture at odds with the idea of an institutional self-review being the first step in a developmental process (Goodliffe and Razvi, 2011). Having come through these rounds, institutions in Bahrain and Oman have the opportunity to consider how they allocate authority, responsibility and accountability for academic standards and quality across the student lifecycle. This should give them the confidence to shape their own frameworks for managing academic standards, quality and enhancement, reflecting their unique missions and contexts while taking their place in a global higher education sector.

REFERENCES Al-Atiqi, I.M. & Alharbi, L.M. (2009) ‘Meeting the Challenge: Quality Systems in Private Higher Education in Kuwait’ Quality in Higher Education 15(1) pp.5-16. Caroll, M., Razvi, S., Goodliffe, T. & Al Habsi, F. (2009) ‘Progress in Developing a National Quality Management System for Higher Education in Oman’ Quality in Higher Education 15(1) pp.17-27. D’Andrea, V. (2009) ‘Introduction’ Quality in Higher Education 15(1) pp.2-3. Goodliffe, T. and Razvi, S. (2011) Implementing Quality Audit in Oman: Lessons Learnt ANQAHE Conference: Abu Dhabi. Houston, D. (2008) ‘Rethinking quality and improvement in higher education’ Quality Assurance in Education 16(1) pp.61-79. Jackson, S. (2009) ‘Conclusion’ Quality in Higher Education 15(1) pp.85-86. National Authority for Qualifications and Quality Assurance of Education and Training (QQA) Institutional Review Reports www.en.qaa.edu.bh/ReviewReports.aspx (Accessed 30 May 2013).

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93 O’Mahony, K. & Garavan, T. (2012) ‘Implementing a quality management framework in a higher education organisation: A case study’ Quality Assurance in Education 20(2) pp.184-200. Oman Academic Accreditation Authority (OAAA). Quality Audit Reports. www.oac.gov.om/Institution. aspx (Accessed 3 April 2013). Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). (2002) Handbook for institutional audit: England. QAA: Gloucester (021 7/2002). Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). (2005) Outcomes from institutional audit: Student representation and feedback. QAA: Gloucester (090 10/05). Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). (2006) Handbook for institutional audit: England and Northern Ireland 2006. QAA: Gloucester (112 06/06). Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). (2006) Outcomes from institutional audit: Institutions’ frameworks for managing quality and academic standards. QAA: Gloucester (137 10/06). Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). (2008) Outcomes from institutional audit: Institutions’ frameworks for managing quality and academic standards. Second series: Sharing good practice. QAA: Gloucester (187 03/08). Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). (2009) Handbook for institutional audit: England and Northern Ireland 2009. QAA: Gloucester (306 08/09). Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). (2009) Outcomes from institutional audit: Student representation and feedback arrangements. Second series. Sharing good practice. QAA: Gloucester (282 02/09). Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). (2011a) Outcomes from institutional audit: 2007-09. Managing academic standards. Third series. QAA: Gloucester (391 07/11). Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). (2011b) Outcomes from institutional audit: 2007-09. External involvement in quality management. Third series. QAA: Gloucester (404 09/11). Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). (2011c) Outcomes from institutional audit: 2007-09. Managing learning opportunities. Third series. QAA: Gloucester (424 11/11). Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). (2012) Outcomes from institutional audit: 2009-11. Student Engagement. Third Series. QAA: Gloucester: (497 10/12). Quality Assurance Authority for Education and Training (QAAET). (2009) Higher Education Review Unit: Institutional Review Handbook: Kingdom of Bahrain. www.en.qaa.edu.bh/UsersFiles/FckFiles/file/HERUins.pdf (Accessed 22 October 2012). Razvi, S., Goodliffe, T. and Al Habsi, F. (2013) Highlighting Quality Audits in Oman: A review of the results and indicators of the impact of quality audits of 30 higher education institutions (HEIs). 2nd NAQQAET Conference: Bahrain. Weber, L., Mahfooz, S. & Hovde, K. (2010) ‘Quality assurance in Higher Education: A Comparison of Eight Systems’ Europe and Central Asia Knowledge Brief. Vol.35 World Bank: Washington DC. https:// hdl.handle.net/10986/10148 (Accessed 11 February 2014).

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APPENDIX 1: BASIC FRAMEWORK

Academic Standards

Level Four: University

Level Three: Faculty

Level Two: Course

Level One: Module

Academic Quality Assurance

Academic Quality Enhancement

Gatekeeper

Gateway

Gatekeeper

Gateway

Gatekeeper

Gateway

Vice Chancellor

Academic Board

Vice Chancellor

Academic Board

Vice Chancellor

Academic Board

DVC (A&BD)

QAC

DVC (A&BD)

QAC

DVC (L&SS)

LTEC

DVC (A&BD)

Strategic Planning

DVC (A&BD)

Strategic Planning

Head of Collaborative Partnerships Unit

Partnership Quality SubCommittee

Partnership Quality SubCommittee

Partnership Quality SubCommittee

Head of CELT

Partnership Forum

Dean

Faculty Board

Dean

Faculty Board

Dean

Faculty Board

Associate Dean

FQAC

Associate Dean

FQAC

Head of Learning & Teaching (or equivalent)

FLTEC

Associate Dean

FADC/FEC

Associate Dean

FADC/FEC

Course Leader

Validation Panel

Course Leader

Validation Panel

Course Leader

Revalidation Panel

Course Leader

Revalidation Panel

Course Leader

Course Board

Course Leader

Course Board

Course Leader

Course Board

Course Board Course Board Course Board (Annual (Annual (Annual Module Leader Module Leader Module Leader Module Module Module Review) Review) Review)

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APPENDIX 2: EXAMPLE OF QUALITY PROCESS MAPPED ONTO BASIC FRAMEWORK  Tier Tier 4: University

Tier 3: Faculty

Tier 2: Course

Gatekeeper

Activity

Gateway

Vice Chancellor

Considers each Faculty’s Strategic Plan is in line with the University’s Strategic Plan

Annual Strategic Planning Meeting

Vice Chancellor

Considers course development proposals and gives approval to proceed with validation

Deans & Directorate Executive Group

Vice Chancellor

Receives the validation schedule from University Quality Assurance Committee

Academic Board

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic)

Gives approval annually for the faculties’ approval and periodic review & revalidation schedule

University Quality Assurance Committee

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic)

Validates new courses deemed high risk

University Quality Assurance Committee

Dean

Produces the Faculty Strategic Plan which includes the future direction of the curriculum

Faculty Board

Associate Dean

Validates new courses and reviews & revalidates existing courses deemed low or medium risk

Faculty Academic Development Committee/ Faculty Executive Committee

Associate Dean

Gives initial approval to proceed with planning for new courses

Faculty Quality Assurance Committee

Chair of the Course Validation / Review & Re-validation Panel

Recommends to Faculty Quality Assurance Committee/ University Quality Assurance Committee, as appropriate, validation / re-validation of the course, with or without conditions/recommendations or recommends that validation is withheld

Faculty Quality Assurance Committee/ University Quality Assurance Committee as appropriate

Course Leader

Works with the Course Team to prepare the validation / review & re-validation documentation. Where the course is also delivered through collaborative arrangements the Course Leader’s counterpart is also consulted.

Faculty Quality Assurance Committee via the Course Validation / Review & Re-validation Panel

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Practitioners’ Corner

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The appropriateness of curriculum content in promoting small business development1 Maria M. Bounds - University of Johannesburg, South Africa Geoff A. Goldman - University of Johannesburg, South Africa

ABSTRACT This study examines the appropriateness of the curriculum content of Small Business Management instructional offerings at Higher Education Institutions. Increased calls for quality and applicability of such offerings stem from the need to develop skills and promote new business creation. Higher Education Institutions cannot assume that small business owners and students know what they would need to learn in order to be successful. Higher Education Institutions need to determine which critical skills prospective small business owners need to possess. Following a quantitative approach, a survey was conducted amongst 249 small business owners in the Johannesburg Metropolitan area. Collected data were subjected to ANOVA and Factor analysis. Most pertinently, the study found that if instructional offerings in the field of small business management are aligned with the requirements of the economy, education could play a more important role in building the skills needed for economic development. The study also showed the topics that small business owners ranked as most important to have knowledge about when starting up their businesses and so makes a number of recommendations with regard to course content in this area.1

INTRODUCTION AND RATIONALE FOR THE STUDY Current figures indicate that unemployment has drifted back up to 25.6% in 2013 (Statistics South Africa, 2013). This puts serious and unfair demands on the economically active population of the country. Also, the poverty and associated economic crime caused by this high level of unemployment seriously hinders economic development in South Africa. It is imperative that an entrepreneurial ethos be inculcated amongst this part of the population to promote opportunity, recognition and new venture creation. Small businesses owners need exposure and access to improved information and training with regard to managing a small business (Bridge, O’Neill & Cromie: 2003). Orford, Wood & Herrington (2004) state that it is necessary to improve the quality and appropriateness of entrepreneurial education and training to assist small businesses both in terms of costs and administration and to rethink methods of service delivery and support offered to small businesses. Owners and managers of businesses cannot be considered to be well informed or effective in their functioning unless they have a true understanding of the economy and how to manage small businesses (Meyer & Heppard, 2002). Bennett, Robson & Brattan (2003) note that that the main source of external advice for small businesses is from the private sector. Sources of external advice include accountants,

1 Date of Submission 26 January 2013 Date of Acceptance 7 April 2014 The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


97 lawyers, banks and consultants. Additional sources such as social contacts through family and friendship networks, specialist trade and professional associates and even local chambers of commerce are also noted to be important sources of external advice for small businesses. The public sector, such as local and central government, are mostly secondary sources of information for small business and only account for eight percent of sources used for advice (Parker, 2005). Findings concerning the relationship between education and entrepreneurship have been fairly mixed. Some research suggests that owners of small businesses have a lower than average education while other research suggests that owners or starters of a new business have a higher than average education (Davidson, 2000). Based on this situation, the question that this study endeavours to address is as follows: Does the undergraduate Small Business Management curriculum content at a South African Higher Education Institution address the needs for managing a business in the small business sector? In order to try and answer the stated research question, this study aims: To determine the appropriateness of the Small Business Management curriculum content in addressing the requirements of small business owners in starting up a small business.

LITERATURE REVIEW: DEVELOPMENT OF SMALL BUSINESSES In 2003 the South African Minister of Finance Trevor Manual (2003) revealed that the National Treasury would be identifying obstacles to small business growth. He further stated that government would be taking the job creation ability and the role the small business sector plays in this regard seriously. According to the Government Information System (GIS, 2008), the Local Business Service Centres provide business counselling and advice, training, information and networking. The role of the government in developing small businesses should include: more information and assistance to small businesses; changes to the taxation system and its simplification; an improved educational system; and better education, to assist small business owners in the basics of starting up a small business. Small businesses are identified as a potential medium for political, social and economic development in less developed countries. Even in the presence of governmental interventions, small businesses in developing countries continue to be burdened with challenges such as lack of technology, unskilled workforces, lack of infrastructure and the inability to obtain finance (Arinaitwe, 2006). Friedrich (2003: 30) suggests that half of the success of a small business depends on the traits of the owner and most of the attributes required to run a successful business can be taught and states that specific entrepreneurship training is the missing link in reducing the failure rate of start-up businesses. However, Schwenke (2003: 9) states that a successful entrepreneur needs a complex range of skills, including so-called ‘doing skills’, vital in the start-up phase of a small business. A lack of business skills and access to funding continue to plague the small and medium-sized business sector, despite government attempts over the past decade to remedy the problem (Sukazi, Wood & Bester, 2003). In the entrepreneurial small business enterprise, a wider range of skills and competencies are required, with implications for managerial training in industry and within higher education. South Africa, following recent global trends, is in a process of transforming its institutional, social, economic, political, technical, physical, and demographic environments. The formal education authorities and the private sector have recognised the need for a curriculum, which will enable students to acquire knowledge, basic skills and appropriate attitudes with respect to the business world and entrepreneurship.

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98

CURRICULUM Longstreet & Shane (1993: 2) defined curriculum as an ‘historical accident’, as it has not been deliberately developed to accomplish a clear set of purposes. Rather, it has evolved as a response to the increasing complexity of educational decision-making. Pinar & Reynolds (1995) view a curriculum as an interrelated set of plans and experiences that a student undertakes under the guidance of an institution. Goodson (1996) describes ‘curriculum’ as: ‘a multifaceted concept, constructed, negotiated and renegotiated at a variety of levels and in a variety of arenas’. According to the literature curriculum has both narrow and broader definitions. Narrow definitions are limited to formal descriptions of either academic offerings of specific programmes or the whole range of programmes on offer. Broader definitions might encompass both the intentional plan(s) and design(s) for learning across an institution (Du Plessis, 2011). Saunders (1998) states that, in the majority of cases, work-related teaching is known as work-related curriculum. The potential for teaching work-related issues within the curriculum is therefore substantial (Trainor, 2002). In its broadest interpretation work-related teaching, encapsulates all teaching within the spectrum of vocational education and training. Teaching within these vocational areas is largely concerned with demonstrating competency and performance in the workplace. As these vocational options are discrete entities within the curriculum, they have their own content, structure and assessment (Ahier & Ross, 1995). Mdladlana (2003) indicates that the success of the Skills Development Strategy in South Africa is based on a common ambition driven by a set of objectives and targets. The main objectives are to develop a culture of high quality lifelong learning; encouraging skills development in the formal sector; increasing skills through social development programmes; and supporting skills development in small businesses. The competence-based curriculum produces graduates who are better prepared for their future management tasks, students who have learned to adapt to change and to adapt their abilities to a variety of contexts and situations, developing managerial competencies for a turbulent world (Pacheco, 2000). In South Africa, higher education is not producing the numbers and the types of graduates required by labour markets (Cloete & Bunting, 2000). One of the major challenges facing higher education in South Africa is to develop curricula continuously that are responsive to the changing social, political and economic imperatives of countries. The challenge of education and training is therefore the appropriateness of curricula and training programmes for learning in the outside world (Thomson, 2005). Motshedga (2010) denoted that it is vital that South Africans are kept abreast of the progress that the Curriculum Review process is making in order that all education stakeholders can take ownership of the process. Therefore public consultation is vital and the process is open and transparent.

EDUCATION AS A PREREQUISITE FOR SMALL BUSINESS SUCCESS Education directly and indirectly affects the development of knowledge and skills. Buckley & Caple (1995) state that education is a process and a series of activities which aim at enabling the student to assimilate and develop knowledge, skills, values and understanding that are not simply related to a narrow field of study of activity but also allow a broad range of problems to be defined, analysed and solved. A review on Community Service-Learning in teacher training showed that skills could be developed and enhanced through a Service Learning experience, as Service-Learning provides an environment where students can actively practice their leadership and communication skills to bridge the gap between theory and practice (Abourzek & Patterson, 2003). The following conditions according to Oblinger & Verville (1998) need to be intersected and appropriate between curriculum content and needs of small business owner:

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99 It is necessary to know the questions, tasks and problems those managers of some small businesses face in real life to be able to design relevant learning situations in a curriculum context. Function and discipline-specific knowledge and skills are, and remain, important since without these it is not possible to deal effectively with the specific tasks and problems in areas such as finance, production and marketing. Situations are almost never completely new, specific knowledge and skills are necessary to discover similarities and differences between the old and new situation. There is always a certain degree of overlap between the transfer of knowledge and the link to transferable skills. In view of the multi-disciplinary nature of many management problems, attention must be given to universally applicable heuristics, knowledge and skill areas such as problem solving, decision-making and leadership.

SMALL BUSINESS MANAGEMENT MODULE CONTENT The questionnaire was constructed by the researchers on the following three Small Business Management modules used by a South African metropolitan university. The three modules are: ‘Creative Entrepreneurship’, ‘Growing a Small Business’, and ‘Small Business Marketing’. Each will be outlined in turn. In the Small Business Management module ‘Creative Entrepreneurship’ the first-year students were taught why most entrepreneurs enter the business world via the small business sector and also gain understanding of the differences between small and large enterprises. Content matter of this module was:

• Strengths and weaknesses of small enterprises

• Reasons for small business failure

• The role of government in small business development (Struwig, 2002).

In the Small Business Management module ‘Growing a small business’ the outcome was that second-year students will be able to understand the growth process in small businesses and confront issues arising due to growth in small businesses. Content matter of this module was:

• The life cycle of business ventures

The student will be aware of the growth phases in small businesses and will demonstrate an understanding of aspects occurring during each phase.

• The entrepreneurial manager

The student will be able to identify the management orientation needed to handle growth in small businesses.

• New venture team formation

The student will understand new venture team formation in small businesses.

• Ensuring proper opportunity utilization in a growing small business

The student will be able to use marketing at the different stages of growth in a growing small business. • The implication of growth on financial management in a small business The student will be able to understand the financial implications of growing a small business (Verhoeven & Mayhew, 2000).

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100 In the Small Business Management module ‘Small Business Marketing’ the outcome for third-year students was that they will be able to market their own small business / products/ services. In order to achieve this, the content matter for this module was:

• Building your own marketing plan

The student will comprehend the nature and importance of compiling a marketing plan before participating in any marketing activities.

• Selecting your customer

The student will demonstrate the ability to explore and engage in the selection of customers.

• Salesmanship and selling

The student will be able to demonstrate the ability to engage in sales activities.

• Distribution management The student will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the range of distribution activities in the business world and their implication for his/her small business. • Satisfying your customer The student will understand the interrelationship between the customer and the small business.

• Export marketing

The student will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the range of economic activities globally and their implications for South Africa.

• Computers in the small business environment

The student will be able to understand the nature and value of the computer in the small business environment (Mayhew & Struwig, 2001). The existing discipline-orientated curriculum essentially remains intact, and the lecturer remains relatively independent in teaching the subject matter, gradually on a module by module basis, the new dimensions are incorporated.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY EMPLOYED IN THIS STUDY A positivistic paradigm was adopted in order to satisfy the aim of this study. Positivism is associated with deductive reasoning aimed at inferring universal principles applicable to a certain research population from a representative sample (Collins & Hussey, 2003). The research population targeted for this study was small business owners and or managers (SME’s) operating in the Johannesburg Metropolitan. The sample frame consisted of all SME’s registered with the Chamber of Commerce; 340 in total. Ninety-one of these businesses did not comply with the requirements for small businesses, and were therefore not considered for the study. Employment size for this study has been selected because it is the most stringent criterion and it is used most often to distinguish between small and medium businesses; in this case, small businesses with one to 50 employees. The total sample size was 249 small businesses who complied with one to 50 employees. Element:

Small businesses

Sampling units: Small businesses (retailers, manufacturers, contractors, personal and trade services, financial, brokers, estate agents) Extent: Gauteng A customised measuring instrument, in the form of a ‘questionnaire’ was developed for this study. This questionnaire was divided into two sections. Section A contained items soliciting biographical information

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101 about the respondent, and Section B contained items pertaining to the curriculum content of Small Business Management modules (as seen in module content). Questions 1 to 6 covered the Business Management module of ‘Understanding small business as a natural port of entry for entrepreneurs to the business world’. Questions 7 to 19 covered the Business Management module of ‘Growing a small business’ Questions 20 to 36 covered the Business Management module of ‘Small business marketing’. Questions 37 to 47 covered what the researchers deemed as important and should be incorporated in future Small Business Management modules. (See Annexure A.) The measuring instrument was delivered to SME owners/managers for completion either by hand or by email. Weekly telephone follow-up calls were conducted and respondents were afforded the maximum time period of one month to complete the questionnaire and return 249 surveys. Data analysis comprised quantitative reliability tests, descriptive as well as inferential statistics. The Cronbach alpha reliability test was conducted to measure the internal reliability of the questionnaire. ‘Reliability’ relates to the extent to which a particular data collection approach will yield the same results when used on other occasions (Lancaster, 2005). The Cronbach alpha coefficient provides an index that is scored between 0 and 1, with a score of 0.7 or higher being deemed reliable (Burns & Burns, 2008). Descriptive statistics were compiled to assess the nature of the normal distributions of the data solicited. Furthermore, the following inferential statistics were applied. Factor analysis is a technique used in quantitative research in order to summarise the data gathered from a large number of variables into a small and manageable number of variables or factors (Hair, Money, Samouel & Page, 2007). The factor analysis was performed using, Total Variance and ANOVA (Analysis of variance). Total Variance refers to statistical techniques used in quantitative research. It displays the amount of variance explained by each factor (Drew, Hardman & Hart, 1996). ANOVA refers to a parametric statistical test used in quantitative research methods to compare three or more means simultaneously (Drew et al., 1996).

FINDINGS RESULTANT FROM THE STUDY The following statistics are related to the profile of the respondents. The biographical data pertaining to the respondents can be seen in Table 1. In categorising each main activity of small businesses, it was noted that the highest percentage was that of retailing (one of the oldest forms of business). There was a close link between the respondents in the other forms of business. Referring to qualification it was noted that a very small group of respondents (0.4%) received no formal education or some primary education. The overwhelming number of respondents (29.8%) had passed grade 12. The majority of the respondents stated that their main reason for starting a business had been personal interest. It is interesting to note that the next group of respondents (19.4%) had actually studied for their type of business Table 1: Biographical data Absolute frequency (%)

Variable Ownership

Male

63

Female

37

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102 Absolute frequency (%)

Variable Main business activity

Manufacturing

11.6

Contractor

13.7

Personal services

15.7

Trade services

Qualifications

Reason for start up

7.2

Retail

23.2

Financial services/estate agents

17.3

Other

11.2

No formal education

0.4

Some primary

0.4

Some secondary

3.2

Matric

29.8

Post school diploma/certificate

26.2

B Degree

24.2

Post Graduate qualification

15.7

Personal interest

48

Business is part of family concern

10.9

Unemployed

6.5

Retrenched

8.1

Responded to advertised business opportunity

2.4

Use of savings/inheritance/Lotto

2

Studied/trained for it Other

19.4 2.8

To account for the reliability of the measure used in this study, the Cronbach Alpha was determined. Researchers regard the value of alpha greater than 0,7 as reliable, while others regard values greater than 0,8 and 0,85 as reliable. For the purpose of this study, the alpha values greater than 0,7 was regarded as reliable. A factor consisting of nine items with a Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient of 0,842 was termed marketing functions of small businesses. The mean of the scale is 3.35 with a standard deviation of 0.52. A factor consisting of five items with a Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient of 0,783 was termed social and ethical roles played by small businesses. The mean of the scale is 3.066 with a standard deviation of 0.61. A factor consisting of six items with a Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient of 0,80 was termed marketing plan of small businesses. The mean of the scale is 3.28 with a standard deviation of 0.53. A factor consisting of four items with a Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient of 0,78 was termed export markets and small business. The mean of the scale is 2.58 with a standard deviation of 0.77.

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103 A factor consisting of four items with a Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient of 0,75 that was termed labour laws and regulations. The mean of the scale is 3.308 with a standard deviation of 0.57. A factor consisting of four items with a Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient of 0,69 was termed strengths and weaknesses of small businesses. The mean of the scale is 3.429 with a standard deviation of 0.53. A factor consisting of three items with a Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient of 0,73 was termed role of teams in small businesses. The mean of the scale is 3.06 with a standard deviation of 0.72. A factor consisting of four items with a Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient of 0,68 was termed stages of small businesses. The mean of the scale is 3.26 with a standard deviation of 0.51. A factor consisting of two items with a Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient of 0,80 was termed financing. The mean of the scale is 3.2653 with a standard deviation of 0.71. A factor consisting of three items with a Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient of 0,71 was termed human resources. The mean of the scale is 2.96 with a standard deviation of 0.654 A factor consisting of two items with a Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient of 0,48 was also the result of the factor analysis, but it was discarded due to the very low level of reliability. The above first order factors were then further reduced to two factors, namely ‘Marketing Policy of Small Businesses and the Role of Small Businesses’. Second order factor one, consisting of 26 items with a Cronbach Alpha reliability coefficient of 0.91. This factor was termed marketing policy of small businesses. The mean of the scale is 3.28 with a standard deviation of 0.431. Second order factor two, consisting of 21 items with a Cronbach Alpha reliability coefficient of 0.88. This factor was termed the role of small businesses. This factor can be represented by one scale with a maximum value of 2.48 and minimum value of 723. First Order Factor One indicated what the owners / managers of small businesses emphasise as extremely important, important, somewhat important and not important to the content of the Small Business Management modules (as listed above). The frequency distribution results are indicated in Figure 1 and Figure 2. In Figure 1 the small business owners indicated the nine most important items (topics) for them:

• to know how to develop good relationships with customers

• to know the legal issues pertaining to small businesses

• to understand how growth poses on the owner and the small business

• to be aware of the reasons for small business failure

• to know how to make tactical decisions regarding the product or service offered

• to be able to provide solutions to financial management problems due to growth

• to know which licenses and permits are needed to start a new business or continue an existing one

• to know the factors that influence pricing decisions

• to be aware of the pre-requisites for a small business to grow.

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104 Figure 1: Nine most important items of module content in questionnaire according to business owners Nine most important items

(Important & Extremely important >90%) To know how to develop good relationships with customers.

2.4

To know the legal issues pertaining to small businesses.

4.8

To understand the problems growth poses on the owner and the small business.

4.5

To be aware of the reasons for small business failure.

5.7

To know how to make tactical decisions regarding the product or service offered. To be able to provide solutions to financial mangement problems due to growth. To know which licenses and permits are needed to start a new business or continue an existing one.

6.9

22.3

74.1 33.9 48.8

44.3

21.3

74.1 35.2

6.5 5.6

To know the factors that influence pricing decisions.

8.9

To be aware of the pre-requisites for a small business to grow.

9.8 0%

60.5

10%

57.1

37.4

54.9

26.6

64.9

34.7

55.6 47.6

20%

30%

42.7

40%

50%

60%

70%

80%

90%

100%

% of respondents

Not important

Somewhat important

Important

Extremely important

In Figure 2 the small business owners indicated the seven items that are not important for them in the content matter of Small Business Management. These are to:

• • • • • • •

understand the formation of teams in new ventures know the channels of staff recruitment be aware of the role of government in small business development use e-commerce in your business know the reasons why small businesses avoid the export market know what exporting documents is necessary for transactions be able to evaluate the foreign markets. Figure 2: Seven least important items of module content in questionnaire according to business owners Nine least important items (Important & Extremely important <70%)

To understand the formation of teams in new ventures.

11.0

19.1

To know the channels of staff recruitment.

7.3

25.9

To be aware of the role of government in small business development.

6.5

28.3

To use e-commerce in your business. To know the reasons why small businesses avoid the export market. To know what exporting documentation is necessary for transactions.

42.7 46.6

15.4

21.1

13.9

24.5

10%

30%

28.0

40.8

40%

20.8 26.4

39.2 20%

25.9

35.4

32.1

16.7 0%

20.2

39.3

21.5

To be able to evaluate the foreign markets.

27.2

19.9

28.6 50%

60%

70%

15.5 80%

90%

100%

% of respondents

Not important

Somewhat important

Important

Extremely important

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105 COMPARISON OF BIOGRAPHICAL DATA IN RELATION TO MARKETING POLICY AND THE ROLE OF SMALL BUSINESSES Gender of business owner Table 2 indicated that males had lower scores than females on both second order factors, (marketing policy) and (the role of small businesses). The male respondents in this sample attached significantly less importance to marketing policy and the role of small businesses. Males had a significantly lower score than females on the second factor (the role of small businesses), indicating that the male respondents in this sample attached less importance to the role of small businesses. Table 2: Descriptive statistics â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Gender of business owner Second order Marketing policy of small businesses The role of small businesses

Gender Male Female Male Female

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

146

3.2532

0.45867

83

3.3401

0.38266

146

2.4357

0.38813

84

2.5659

0.31982

According to the Independent sample t-Test there is a statistical difference (p<0.05) between males and females with regard to the second order factor two (the role of small businesses). There are no statistically significant differences (p>0.05) between males and females with regard to the second order factor one (marketing policy of small businesses). See Table 2. Table 2: t-Test â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Gender of business owner Second order

T-test

Df

P-value

Marketing policy of small businesses

-1.536

196.515

0.126

The role of small businesses

-2.607

228.00

0.010 *

* Significant difference Main activity of business The mean values, for all six groups of business activities are between 2.3694 and 3.3628 as noted in Table 3 below. The highest standard deviation was obtained for second order factor one (marketing policy) by the trade services. The lowest standard deviation was obtained for second order factor two (the role of small businesses) by contractors. An analysis of the statistics of the relationship between the independent variable number of the main activity of the business and marketing policy / role of small businesses, indicates that the difference in mean values is not significant.

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106 Table 3: Descriptive statistics: The main activity

Marketing policy of small businesses

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Manufacturer

28

3.2253

.41829

Contractor

30

3.2705

.38982

Personal Services

35

3.2560

.47674

Trade Services

16

3.2091

.68615

Retailers

56

3.3159

.40417

Financial/insurance/ estate agents/brokers

41

3.4034

.36030

Other

26

3.1982

.38824

232

3.2850

.43103

Manufacturer

27

2.4074

.40833

Contractor

30

2.3487

.27623

Personal Services

35

2.4824

.39404

Trade Services

16

2.5433

.35331

Retailers

56

2.4993

.38416

Financial/insurance/ estate agents/brokers

43

2.5859

.31681

Other

26

2.4852

.40164

233

2.4842

.36723

Total The role of small businesses

Total

As represented in Table 4 there are no differences with regard to the main activity of the business in their relationship to second order factor one (marketing policy) and second order factor two (role of small businesses). Table 4: One-way ANOVA: Main activity Sum of Squares Marketing policy of small businesses

The role of small businesses

Between Groups

Df

Mean Square

F

Sig.

.942

.466

1.532

.169

1.052

6

.175

Within Groups

41.866

225

.186

Total

42.917

231

1.223

6

.204

Within Groups

30.065

226

.133

Total

31.288

232

Between Groups

The main activity of the business has a small practical effect of 0.1 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 0.3 for second order factor one (marketing policy of small businesses) and second order factor two (the role of small businesses) (Eta = .198) see Table 5. The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


107 Table 5: Effect size of the main activity Value Marketing policy of small businesses Dependent

.157

The role of small businesses Dependent

.198

Highest academic / business qualifications According to the analysis of the mean value, all the mean values are between 2.3694 and 3.3628 indicating that the research data tend to cluster around these values. The highest standard deviation was obtained for second order factor one (marketing policy) by owners with a degree (B.A, B.Com). The lowest standard deviation was obtained for second order factor two (the role of small businesses) by owners with post graduate qualifications. See Table 6. In the second order factor one (marketing policy), there was a statistically significant difference among the different qualifications. There was no statistically significant differences between the academic qualifications and second order factor two (the role of small businesses). Table 6: Descriptive statistics: Qualifications

Marketing policy of small businesses

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Grade 12 or lower

76

3.2419

.42085

Post school diploma/ certificate

60

3.3628

.37952

Baccalaureas Degree (e.g. B.A., B.Com., B.Sc)

59

3.3533

.46809

Post Graduate Qualifications (e.g. honours, masters, etc.)

36

3.1474

.43877

231

3.2870

.43082

Grade 12 or lower

76

2.4868

.38674

Post school diploma/ certificate

60

2.4821

.35445

Baccalaureas Degree (e.g. B.A., B.Com., B.Sc)

58

2.5597

.37040

Post Graduate Qualifications (e.g. honours, masters, etc.)

38

2.3694

.32862

232

2.4846

.36797

Total The role of small businesses

Total

According to Table 7 there are statistical differences (p<0.05) in means with regard to highest academic / business qualifications in their relation to the second factor one (the marketing policy of small businesses).

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108 Table 7: One-way ANOVA: Qualifications Sum of Squares Marketing policy of small businesses

The role of small businesses

Between Groups

Df

Mean Square

F

Sig.

2.680

.048

2.076

.104

1.460

3

.487

Within Groups

41.228

227

.182

Total

42.689

230

.832

3

.277

Within Groups

30.446

228

.134

Total

31.278

231

Between Groups

There are statistical significantly differences in terms of average (mean) second order factor one score (the marketing policy of small businesses) between the various educational groups. Owners with higher education degrees indicated that second order factor one - marketing policy was more important in their business, compared to owners with grade 12 and lower qualifications who indicated that marketing policy was less important. Conclusion, a small practical effect on the opinions related to the marketing policy of small businesses and the role of small businesses (Eta = 1.85), see Table 8. Table 8: Effect size: Qualifications Value Marketing policy of small businesses Dependent

.185

The role of small businesses Dependent

.163

Main reason for starting the business The mean values for the six groups (starting a business) are 2.4400 and 3.3825, indicating that there is not a big difference in opinions among owners regarding their reason for starting their businesses. In analysing the mean value, all the mean values are between two and three indicating that the research data tend to cluster around these values, as indicated in Table 9. Table 9: Descriptive statistics - Reason for starting a business Second order Factor 1: Marketing policy of small Businesses

Reason for starting a business

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

109

3.3197

0.40686

The business is part of a family concern

27

3.2365

0.42129

I was unemployed / retrenched

34

3.2602

0.47372

I studied/trained for it

43

3.2111

0.43379

Other

18

3.3825

0.51169

231

3.2859

0.43175

It was of personal interest

Total

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109 Second order Factor 2: The role of small businesses

Reason for starting a business

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

109

2.4488

0.35722

The business is part of a family concern

25

2.4400

0.43088

I was unemployed / retrenched

34

2.4706

0.34389

I studied/trained for it

46

2.5251

0.38189

Other

18

2.6624

0.31066

232

2.4828

0.36741

It was of personal interest

Total

There are no statistical differences with regard to the main reason for starting a business in their relationship to second order factor one and two (the marketing policy and the role of small businesses) as shown in Table 10. Table 10: One-way ANOVA – Reason for starting business Sum of Scores

Df

Mean

0.621

4

0.155

Within Groups

42.252

226

0.187

Total

42.874

230

0.839

4

0.210

Within Groups

30.343

227

0.134

Total

31.183

231

Second order Marketing policy of small businesses

The role of small businesses

Between Groups

Between Groups

F 0.831

1.570

P-value 0.507

0.183

Effect size The effect is 0.1 – 0.3. Conclusion a small practically effect on the opinions related to marketing policy and the role of small businesses (Eta = 1.64) as shown in Table 11. Table 11: Reason for starting a business Second order factor one

Value

Dependent – Marketing policy of small businesses

0.120

Second order factor two

Value

Dependent – The role of small businesses

0.164

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110

CONCLUSIONS BASED ON THE STUDY FINDINGS The study revealed that knowledge of small businesses is essential for those wishing, to start or manage a small business, in order for them to be made aware of potential pitfalls. All the respondents perceived most of the Small Business content matter as important or very important. Among the items surveyed, owners ranked growth as very important. Of the items surveyed the following nine items were ranked as extremely important by small business owners (above 90%):

• to be aware of the pre-requisites for a small business to grow

• to know the factors that influence pricing decisions

• to know which licenses and permits are needed to start a new business or to continue the existing business

• to be able to provide solutions to financial management problems resulting from growth

• to know how to make tactical decisions regarding products or services offered

• to be aware of the reasons for small business failure

• to understand the problems growth poses on the owner and the small business

• to know the legal issues pertaining to small businesses

• to know how to develop good relationships with customers.

The following seven items were ranked as not important by small business owners:

• to be able to evaluate foreign markets

• to know which exporting documents are necessary for transactions

• to know the reasons why small markets avoid the export markets

• to use e-commerce in a business

• to be aware of the role of government in small business development

• to know the channels of staff recruitment

• to understand the formation of teams in new ventures.

It can be deduced that the majority of small business owners are concerned mainly with local customers and that the foreign market is not important in their business. The majority of the respondents indicated agreement with the items relating to the marketing function. Small business owners indicated the items dealing with marketing as ‘extremely important’. This shows the value of Small Business Management content matter, as respondents considered marketing to be important in a successful business. The following items are therefore important in the marketing policy of small businesses:

• to understand the importance of drawing up a marketing budget

• to understand market related concepts such as market segmentation, target market and market positions

• to understand the importance of compiling a marketing plan prior to implementation

• to understand the implications of growth on financial management in the business

• to know how to make tactical decisions regarding the product or service offered.

As far as small businesses are concerned, it is recommended that topics such as the following could be considered as very important:

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111

• Marketing policy

• Finance and budgets

• Labour laws and legislation

• Legal issues pertaining to small businesses.

Higher education could not assume that small business owners and students knew what they would need to learn and consequently a needs assessment of Small Business Management content matter was conducted. The core objective of this study was to explore the possibility of new curriculum content for small business development, as an alternative to the one used by a higher education institution. Furthermore it proceeded to test the viability of such a curriculum through an empirical survey within the small business environment. Understanding learning and curriculum theories and principles is essential for the design and restructuring of effective curriculum programmes. The conclusion from the empirical study was that all the respondents perceived most of the Small Business content matter as important or very important.

RECOMMENDATIONS BASED ON THE FINDINGS The development of a small business curriculum and the creation of new businesses should be seen as a long-term process. It is recommended that a democratic process of curriculum development be introduced, which make provision for participation by all the role players. The management process in developing Small Business curriculum should be a bottom up as well as a top down process with participation on university level, national level as well as participation by the business sector. The curriculum should be based on a modular approach with basic modules being compulsory for all students. As far as management involvement is concerned, it is important that lecturers and small business owners should be empowered to face the challenge of curriculum restructuring. Unless lecturers and small business owners are trained on curriculum matters, their effectiveness in curriculum restructuring becomes questionable. It is recommended that the following elements should be incorporated into the future content of Small Business Management of the undergraduate degree programme at the University of Johannesburg:

• Development of skills and training courses offered to small businesses

• Recent labour market legislation and the impact is has on small businesses

• How to deal with labour unions and labour laws and legislation

• Licenses and permits needed to start a new business or to continue an existing one

• Small Business Programmes on national and local levels that are available.

In 2001 it was indicated that ‘Never has the entrepreneurial spirit been more alive in South Africa and never has it been that crucial to the quality of our lives’ (Heil, 2001: 2). This is still valid in today’s business world. The limitations accompanying the study are readily acknowledged. This study was restricted to small businesses consisting of one to fifty employees. A similar study including the medium to large business sector is proposed. Certain other issues also need to be investigated, the first being the relationship between Business Management training, theory and small business practice. Not only does the relationship need to be investigated, but methods need also to be developed to integrate theory and practice.

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112

REFERENCES Abourzek, T. & Patterson, D.L. (2003) ‘Bridging the gap for pre-service teachers’ Academic Exchange Quarterly 7 pp.121-126. Ahier, J. & Ross, A. (1995) The Social Subjects within the Curriculum. London: Falmer Press. Arinaitwe, S.K. (2006) ‘Factors Constraining the Growth and Survival of Small Scale Business. A Developing Countries Analysis’ Journal of American Academy of Business 8(2):167-178. EBSCOHost: CINAHL: http://search.global.epnet.com/ (Accessed 25 August 2012). Bennett, R.J., Robson, P.J.A. & Bratton, W.J.A. (2001) ‘The Influence of Location on the Use by SMEs of External Advice and Collaboration’ Urban Studies 38(9) pp.1531-1557. Bridge, S., O’Neill, K. & Cromie, S. (2003) Understanding enterprise, entrepreneurship and small business. 2nd ed. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Macmillan Business. Buckley, A. & Caple, J. (1995) The theory and practice of training. London: Kogan Page. Burns, R.B. & Burns, R.A. (2008) Business Research Methods and Statistics using SPPSS. Los Angeles: Sage. Cloete, N. & Bunting, I. (2000) Higher Education Transformation: Assessing performance in South Africa. Pretoria: CHET. Collins, J. & Hussey, R. (2003) Business Research: A practical guide for undergraduate and postgraduate students. Hampshire: Palgrave-McMillan. Davidson, P. 2000. Determinants of entrepreneurial intentions. Swedish Foundation for small businesses. (Unpublished research paper). Drew, C.J., Hardman, M.J. & Hart, W. (1996) Designing and conducting research: Inquiring in education and social sciences. 2nd ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Du Plessis, E. (2011) Becoming a teacher. Cape Town: Heinemann. Friedrich, C. (2003) ‘Small is beautiful’19 November 2003. This Day. pp.11-33. GIS. (2008) ‘Employment strategy framework: Part 2’ Government Information Systems. Pretoria: Government Publishers http://www. polity.co.za/html/govdocs/misc/jobsframework1.html (Accessed November 2012). Goodson, I.F. (1996) ‘National Curriculum’ In N. Taylor (Ed.) Inventing knowledge. Contests in Curriculum Construction. Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman. Hair, J.J., Money, A.H., Samouel, P. & Page, M. (2007) Research methods for business. England. Leyn Publishing. Lancaster, G. (2005) Research Methods in Management. Burlington: Elsevier.

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113 Longstreet, T.W.S. & Shane, H.G. (1993) Curriculum for a new millennium. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Manual, T. (2003) Government to focus on small businesses. hppt://www.news24.com/news24/ finance/economy/,2-8-251326141,00.html (Accessed 12 November 2012). Mayhew, W. & Struwig, M. (Eds.) (2001) Study Guide for Small Business Marketing. BMA 6005. Department of Business Management, Vista University, South Africa. Mdladlana, M. (2003) ‘The skills revolution is blooming’ City Press Careers.19 October. Johannesburg, South Africa. Meyer, G.D. & Heppard K.A. (2002) Entrepreneurship as Strategy: Competing on the Entrepreneurial Edge. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Motshekga, M.P. (2010) ‘The Progress of the Review of the National Curriculum Statement’ 6 July 2010. Issued by the Ministry of Basic Education. Spokesperson - Minister of Basic Education, South Africa. Nigrini, M. & Schoombee, A. (2002) ‘Credit Guarantee Schemes as an instrument to promote access to finance for Small and Medium Enterprises: an analysis of Khula Enterprises Finance Ltd’s individual Credit Guarantee Scheme’ Development Southern Africa 19(5) pp.735-750. Oblinger, D. & Verville, A. (1998) What business wants from higher education. Phoenix: The Oryx Press. Orford, J., Wood, E. & Herrington, M. (2004) Global Entrepreneurship Monitor: South African Report. Cape Town: UCT Graduate School of Business. Pacheco, A. (2000) Meeting the challenge of high-quality teacher education. Why education must change. New York: AACTE Publication. Parker, S.C. (2005) ‘Foundations and Trends in Entrepreneurship’ NOW: The essence of learning 1(1) pp.1-20. Pinar, W. & Reynolds, W. (1995) Understanding Curriculum. New York: Peter Lang. Saunders L. (1998) ‘The Work-Related Curriculum: The New Entitlement’ British Journal of Education and Work 6(1) pp.90-94. Statistics South Africa. (2013) ‘Labour force survey - August 2013’ Statistical release P021. Pretoria. Schwenke, J. (2003) ‘Education is the missing link’ Sunday Business Times. 30 March p.9. Struwig, M. (2002) Study Guide for Creative Entrepreneurship BMA 5003. Department of Business Management, Vista University, South Africa. Sukazi, J., Wood, E. & Bester, L. (2003) ‘Black hole in skills, funding his progress’ Sunday Business Times. 30 March. Thomson, L.A. (2005) ‘Funding and mentoring young entrepreneurs’ www.conectutah.co./article (Accessed November 2012).

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114 Trainor, D. (2002) Coherence, progression and continuity in work-related teaching and learning. Centre for Education and Industry: University of Warwick, UK. Verhoeven, C.E. & Mayhew, W. (2000) Study Guide for Growing a Small Business BMA 5505. Department of Business Management, Vista University, South Africa. Zikmund, W.G. (2000) Business Research Methods. 6th ed. Fort Worth: Dreyden Press.

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115

ANNEXURE A: SURVEY TO SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS Note: Please use a 4 point scale as follows. 4 = extremely important 2 = somewhat important

3 = important 1 = not important

How important is each of the following for the owner of a small enterprise? 1.

To understand the contribution made by the small business enterprise in the economy of South Africa

4

3

2

1

2.

To be aware of the challenges facing the small business owner

4

3

2

1

3.

To know the strengths of small enterprises (e.g. flexible decision making)

4

3

2

1

4.

To know the weaknesses of small enterprises (e.g. limited capital)

4

3

2

1

5.

To be aware of the reasons for small business failure

4

3

2

1

6.

To be aware of the role (assistance, involvement) of government in small business development

4

3

2

1

7.

To be aware of the pre-requisites for a small business to grow

4

3

2

1

8.

To understand what the growth stages in small businesses entails

4

3

2

1

9.

To understand the problems growth poses on the owner and the small business

4

3

2

1

10.

To identify the characteristics involved at each stage of the growth process of a small business

4

3

2

1

11.

To understand that an entrepreneur moves from doing things to managing things

4

3

2

1

12.

To understand the formation of teams in new ventures

4

3

2

1

13.

To know why new venture teams are successful

4

3

2

1

14.

To understand the different marketing environments (micro, market and macro)

4

3

2

1

15.

To understand market related concepts such as market segmentation, target market and market positions

4

3

2

1

16.

To understand the implications of growth on financial management in the business.

4

3

2

1

17.

To be able to provide solutions to financial management problems due to growth.

4

3

2

1

18.

To know what kind of financing is available

4

3

2

1

19.

To know which institutions provide financial assistance

4

3

2

1

20.

To understand the importance of compiling a marketing plan prior to implementation

4

3

2

1

21.

To understand the importance of drawing up a marketing budget

4

3

2

1

The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


116 22.

To know how to make tactical decisions regarding the product or service offered

4

3

2

1

23.

To know the factors that influence pricing decisions

4

3

2

1

24.

To be able to devise a pricing strategy

4

3

2

1

25.

To assess a potential supplier before making a purchase agreement

4

3

2

1

26.

To know that the appearance of a business can affect sales

4

3

2

1

27.

To able to engage in sales activities

4

3

2

1

28.

To identify the qualities required in a salesperson

4

3

2

1

29.

To understand the range of distribution activities in the business world

4

3

2

1

30.

To understand the inter-relationship between the customer and the small business.

4

3

2

1

31.

To know the reasons why small businesses avoid the export market

4

3

2

1

32.

To be able to evaluate the foreign markets.

4

3

2

1

33.

To know what exporting documentation is necessary for transactions

4

3

2

1

34.

To use e-commerce in your business (buying and selling over internet)

4

3

2

1

35.

To know how to develop good relationships with customers

4

3

2

1

36.

To understand the small businessâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; social responsibility towards the community

4

3

2

1

37.

To know the ethical role played by small business (social awareness of ethics)

4

3

2

1

38.

To know the legal issues pertaining to small businesses

4

3

2

1

39.

To know that education (qualification and training) is a prerequisite for managing a business

4

3

2

1

40.

To know that many of the characteristics needed for a successful small business can be acquired through study

4

3

2

1

41.

To be aware of skills training courses offered to your employees

4

3

2

1

42.

To know the channels of staff recruitment

4

3

2

1

43.

To know how the recent labour market legislations have an impact on your business

4

3

2

1

44.

To be able to deal with labour (trade) unions

4

3

2

1

45

To know the labour laws dealing with hiring and firing of employees

4

3

2

1

46.

To know which licenses and permits are needed to start a new business or continue an existing one.

4

3

2

1

47.

To be aware of the variety of programmes to help promote small businesses (government at the national and local levels)

4

3

2

1

The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


117 List of reviewers

We thank the following people who contributed to the review process of this 2014 edition of the journal: •  Dr K. Al Mutawah (National Authority for Qualifications and Quality Assurance of Education and Training, Kingdom of Bahrain) • Professor B. Anderson (The Da Vinci Institute, South Africa) • Dr C. Bitso (University of Cape Town, South Africa) • Professor S. Booth (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa) • Ms G. Castrillón (Milpark Business School, South Africa) • Professor S. Darwish (Applied Science University of Technology, Kingdom of Bahrain) • Dr J. Dlamini (University of South Africa, South Africa) • Professor B. Exley (Queensland University of Technology, Australia) • Ms S. Friedrichs van Harmelen (The Independent Institute of Education, Varsity College, South Africa) • Professor M. Glencross (St. Augustine College, South Africa) • Dr T. Goodliffe (Oman Accreditation Authority, Sultanate of Oman) • Professor M. Graven (Rhodes University, South Africa) • Dr J. Hardman (University of Cape Town, South Africa) • Dr A. Hlengwa (Rhodes University, South Africa) • Dr L. Jacobs (Independent Education Consultant, South Africa) • Dr C. Jordaan (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa)

The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


118 • Dr K. Junqueira (University of the Free State, South Africa) • Dr M. Keane (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa) • Dr M. Lightfoot (University of Massachusetts, USA) • Professor D.B. Lortan (Durban University of Technology, South Africa) • Professor S. McKenna (Rhodes University, South Africa) • Professor T. Mwamwenda (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa) • Professor R. Newton (Robert Gordon University, UK) • Dr T.M. Ngcobo (University of Western Cape, South Africa) • Dr M. Ngoepe (University of South Africa, South Africa) • Mr R. Pearce (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa) • Ms M. Roodt (Central University of Technology, South Africa) • Dr A. Roux (North-West University, South Africa) • Professor M. Schafer (Rhodes University, South Africa) • Professor S. Schoeman (University of South Africa, South Africa) • Ms C. Siewerski (The Independent Institute of Education, Central Academic Team, South Africa) • Dr C. Smith (University of Johannesburg, South Africa)

The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


Notes for contributors

Manuscripts should be sent to the Editor. They should be typed in double space, in A4 format, in MS Word and should not exceed 5000 words in length, excluding tables, figures and references. Manuscripts may be submitted by e-mail. Tables and Figures should be numbered by Arabic numerals. Each manuscript should be accompanied by a title page and an Abstract of 100-150 words on a separate sheet. Manuscripts not conforming to these requirements will not be considered for publication. The full postal and e-mail address of the author should be included on the title page. Proofs will be sent to authors if there is sufficient time to do so. They should be corrected and returned within 48 hours of receipt. The editor reserves the right to publish without proofs having been signed-off by the author.

The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 9 / 2014 Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning


The Independent Institute of Education (Pty) Ltd

The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE) is South Africa’s leading private higher education institute, registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training and offering more than 70 qualifications accredited by the HEQC. The IIE is also accredited as an international centre by the British Accreditation Council. With qualifications registered and accredited from Higher Certificate to Master level, The IIE operates across 21 sites nationally through five higher education brands namely Varsity College, Forbes Lever Baker, Vega, Rosebank College and Design School Southern Africa campuses. The IIE also offers a range of Short Learning Programmes. The IIE works collaboratively with several other higher education institutions including International College of Hotel Management (ICHM), Open University (OU), University of South Africa (UNISA), Institute of Marketing Management (IMM), University of the Free State (UFS) and University of Pretoria (UP). This, coupled with various partnership and endorsement agreements with leading organisations and professional bodies, adds to the status of The IIE as the largest, most accredited registered private provider of higher education in South Africa. The IIE brands have campuses across the country; qualifications which are offered on the campuses are directly linked to their mission and target student market. This means that students on each campus will be able to study with other students with similar interests and ambitions. As of 2013, The IIE also started offering distance education qualifications. The flagship programme is a Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education. The IIE has a strong central national academic and quality assurance team based in Sandton that provides academic leadership for the sites and qualifications across the country. The team is also responsible for the registration, curriculum, quality of delivery, and assessment and certification (graduation) of all the qualifications, meaning that students on a campus in one city receive an educational experience that is guaranteed to match that which is offered in any other city; this experience includes the same access to key academic resources and facilities. Each campus adds to this academic base with its own specific group of well-qualified lecturers who are subject-matter and discipline experts, and collectively have a wealth of knowledge and industry-based experience in the areas in which they teach, as well as the individualised student support that the campuses give. An IIE student is, therefore, rounded both academically and socially, thus maximising student success. The IIE is a founder member of the Private Higher Education Interest Group (PHEIG), which is an association of private higher education institutions, which share a commitment to developing and protecting the reputation and quality of private higher education in South Africa. The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning, which is both peer-reviewed and as of 2014 appears on the Department of Higher Education and Training’s approved list of South African accredited journals, is one of the many ways in which The IIE is ensuring academic leadership within the higher education landscape of South Africa and, in particular, in private higher education. For more information about The IIE, its academic opportunities, qualifications offered and campuses, or the PHEIG, please go to www.iie.ac.za or email info@iie.ac.za

DIGI-LITHO  011 914 5192 (N002919)


The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning Vol 9 2014  

The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning is a peer-reviewed journal, published once a year by The Independent Institute of Education...

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