Situating Some Aspects of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in South African Higher Education Within Southern Theories
Chaka Chaka, Thembeka Shange, Sibusiso Clifford Ndlangamandla and Dumisile Mkhize
This paper discusses aspects of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) in South African higher education (HE) and locates it within what it calls Southern theories. Three examples of such theories that the paper advances are Southern decolonial theory, decoloniality, and transversality, which it frames from the Global South standpoint. Concerning the first theory, the paper argues that SoTL, both as a notion and as a practice, needs to be problematized, critiqued, and contextualized according to the Global South HE settings in which it is applied. One of its key points in this regard is that SoTL has to question and critique the dominant epistemic practices and scholarly practices underpinning the curricula of Global South higher education institutions (HEIs), and through which students are framed in these HEIs. With reference to both decoloniality and transversality, the paper foregrounds components of SoTL that are aligned to these two approaches in a way that dismantles their hierarchical relations. Most importantly, it contends that transversality is capable of decentering Western truth claims in favor of polycentric epistemologies, frameworks, and methodologies that resonate with and that have applicability to the Global South.
Towards a Scholarship of School-Based Teaching and Learning That Embraces Hope, Change, and Social Justice in a South African University
Muki S. Moeng
In this commentary, the author presents an argument for embracing a critical southern paradigm and framework for a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) that advances decoloniality, social justice, and conscientisation. The kind of scholarship that is argued for in this paper proposes a SoTL that goes beyond the recognition of classrooms as sites of inquiry and teaching, but a SoTL that is generative, context responsive, carries moral and pedagogical imperatives, and can influence institutional and societal change. This commentary draws on the experiences of a Dean of Faculty through self-reflexive qualitative impressions. She frames her personal experience of implementing a School-Based Learning placement approach within a theoretical discussion of agency, conscientisation, and transformative learning.
Relocating English Studies and SoTL in the Global South: Towards Decolonizing English and Critiquing the Coloniality of Language
Sibusiso Clifford Ndlangamandla and Chaka Chaka
South Africa has policies and frameworks for curriculum design, transformation, and quality assurance in each public institution of higher education (HE). These policies influence the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), particularly at the departmental and disciplinary levels of English Studies. Despite the policy narratives and rhetoric, English Studies still carries vestiges of colonialism and apartheid in South Africa. Similarly, in other disciplines, scholars in the Global South have highlighted coloniality, epistemicides, epistemic errors, and epistemic injustices, but not in a dual critique of SoTL and the English language.
Hypercritical self-reflexivity by academics should be the norm in SoTL, and this should be linked to language-based curriculum reforms and module content designs. All of these self-reflexive efforts should foreground how the mission to transform and decolonize is entangled with Eurocentric paradigms of English language teaching.
This paper characterizes the nexus between SoTL and the coloniality of language within South African higher education. It also discusses and critiques the nature of an English department in a post-apartheid and postcolonial South Africa. In addition, it critiques the coloniality of language and imperial English language paradigms often embraced by higher education institutions (HEIs) in South Africa, and delineates curriculum transformation, Africanization, and decolonizing English within this educational sector. Finally, the paper challenges Eurocentric SoTL practices and colonialist English language paradigms by framing its argument within a critical southern decolonial perspective and a post-Eurocentric SoTL.
Bridging SoTL and Open Educational Resources/Practices (OER/P) Through Tagore’s Southern Theory in the Era of a Pandemic
In recent times, while Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) and pedagogy enabled by open educational resources/practices (OER/P-enabled pedagogy) have become paramount in higher education, both have hardly been addressed jointly. Given that both aim to adopt, share, and reuse open resources by lecturers and their students in higher education institutions, it would have been expected that both are conjointly used to enhance student learning instead of being used separately. Additionally, while studies are ongoing from different theoretical stances, SoTL and OER/P-enabled pedagogy research are considered separately. Consequently, and through systematic review, the current study aims at bridging SoTL and OER/P-enabled pedagogy through Tagore’s southern theory in the era of a pandemic in the educational setting.
Tagore’s southern theory can demonstrate and explain the tacit linkage between SoTL via OER/P. Accordingly, Tagore’s southern theory should be used in broadening and deepening our understanding and thus serve as a guiding principle to approach SoTL and OER/P-enabled pedagogy conjointly. One key implication is that while it is important to conceptualize the global design of teaching and learning, it is vitally important to take account of local histories. Thus, the culturally entrenched connotations and interpretations for inclusive education can be addressed by employing both SoTL and OER/P-enabled pedagogy simultaneously. The hope is that the research assists in grounding the future of SoTL via OER/P-enabled pedagogy exploration.
Fiona Te Momo
In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted academic educational programmes in universities across the world, including Aotearoa New Zealand. For Māori academics who implement mātauranga Māori as a pedagogy, it became theoretically and practically challenging teaching virtually and online. The Te Taha Tinana, of Te Whare Tapa Wha model, created by aDurie in 1984 (Health Navigator, 2022) regarding the four dimensions of well-being, focuses on the physical presence, physical embodiment, and physical behaviour. This could not be easily taught virtuality through a computer screen during COVID-19 lockdown. For Māori academics transitioning from teaching Mātauranga Māori in person to an online environment brought forth these challenges. The challenges re-emerged in August 2021 when New Zealand went into Level 4 lockdown overnight because of the new COVID-19 Delta Virus variant. In 2022, the Omicron variant caused many universities in Aotearoa New Zealand to continue their first semester teaching online.
Mātauranga Māori is a body of knowledge exercised by Māori people in New Zealand. Sadler (2007) argues Mātauranga Māori was first invented by Māori when Pākehā (English people) arrived in New Zealand. He suggests Mātauranga Māori is a paradigm where Māori define the parameters. Royal (2009; 2012) claims this knowledge was brought to New Zealand by Polynesian ancestors and is an evolutionary continuum of knowledge that relates to encountering the world as Māori with the focus on improving humankind. Le Grice, Braun, and Wetherell (2017) state Mātauranga Māori incorporates theories, practices, and protocols that are bound to relationships, people, and places in a world that supports Māori ambitions. This knowledge, for me an Indigenous Māori academic, incorporates the physical and spiritual worlds embracing the energies of the universe handed down by our forefathers. This position paper discusses the pedagogical challenges encountered during COVID-19 Lockdown for Indigenous academics to continue delivering programmes requiring indigenous expertise and human contact. It explores: 1) the Covid 19 Educational Barriers; 2) Online Academic Challenges; 3) Managing Cultural Shifts; 4) Sustaining Indigenous Pedagogy. It asserts that Mātauranga Māori contributes to the growth of Indigenous knowledge on a world stage and the challenges indigenous academics encounter brought by a global pandemic.
The “Elephant in the Room”: Why and How Medium of Instruction and Decolonisation of Education are Linked
Bert van Pinxteren
The content of education and the medium in which it is delivered are generally seen as two different things: a curriculum that is in need of being “decolonised” can still be delivered in a colonial language. Likewise, a curriculum that is colonial in nature could in theory be delivered in any medium of instruction. This article argues that, seen from a macro perspective, this belief is incorrect. In African settings (and probably elsewhere as well), the medium of instruction and the content of that instruction are intricately linked. Evolution towards a decolonial educational system has to include a change in the medium of instruction if it is to be successful.
Building Indigenous knowledge: Exploring the Pedagogy of Māori knowledge in the Digital Computing Information Technology Tertiary Sector of New Zealand
Hamiora Te Momo
In 2021, Computing Information Technology Research and Education New Zealand (CITRENZ, 2021) held a conference for academics to explore information technology in a changing world. It provided a platform for those academics that teach in this industry a forum to discuss knowledge transfer and teaching practices. A workshop on “Mātauranga Māori in Information Technology,” which is a specialised type of expertise that continues to be in its infancy was presented. Mātauranga Māori in academia is a body of Indigenous Māori knowledge passed down from generation to generation, stretching back to te ao marama, the creation of the world (Sadler, 2007). Therefore, the depth of Mātauranga Māori is embedded in the earth and waters that cover the lands (Royal, 1998). Exploring ways to transfer this type of knowledge to a classroom or global online environment for Information Technology is a new type of pedagogy.
Building the academic capacity of people and academic programmes in Information Technology that supports Mātauranga Māori is pioneering for Indigenous academics. Navigating this pathway in the tertiary sector is delegated many times to the Indigenous academic to take leadership in this discipline. It also becomes a challenge for the Indigenous academic to retain leadership in these areas when these topics become globally attractive, like Cyber Security, where the representation of Indigenous experts are scarce in this industry and the outcome is that knowledge transfer tends to be the responsibility of the non-Indigenous academics to lead capacity building initiatives. This article discusses five key issues: 1) programmes in the Digital Computing Information Technology sector; 2) Mātauranga Māori in Information Technology; 3) the pedagogy of teaching and delivery; 4) Indigenous leadership in this sector; and 5) capacity building initiatives. It draws heavily from the literature and experience of those academics who work in the Institute of Technology and Polytechnics in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Community Based Participatory Research: A Ladder of Opportunity for Engaged Scholarship in Higher Education
Keneilwe Molosi-France and Kenneth Dipholo
Higher Education the world over is recognized as a driver of development in the knowledge based economy. It is believed that Higher Education benefits the economy through the formation of human capital and building a knowledge base that contributes to solving problems in society. However, voices of frustration about graduates being unable to relate theory to practice in different contexts raises questions about the quality of teaching and learning in Higher Education Institutions (HEI). Some reports have shown that graduates seem to leave HEI’ s disengaged, ill equipped, and unable to apply acquired university knowledge to real world problems. In addition, even though the mission of the university is inclusive of engagement among others, community engagement priority seems to be emphasized only on the part of faculty members and less so on students. This in part is a result of a curriculum that mainly promotes classroom based learning and the ivory tower mentality of HEI, which places the community in the periphery of knowledge and data production. This conceptual paper argues that in order for HEI’s to produce quality graduates, who are innovative and active citizens, a transformative teaching and learning scholarship that moves beyond “classroom-based theory” is necessary, more especially for students in applied fields of study such as community development. Borrowing from Nyerere’s educational philosophy, this paper posits that Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR), with its collaborative inquiry, social action and service learning, may provide a basis for engaged scholarship of teaching and learning that promotes engagement for higher education students in applied fields of study. Thus, by exploring the concepts of engaged scholarship and CBPR and the nuances that exist between them, this paper seeks to underscore the importance of CBPR and how it can contribute to engaged scholarship for students.