This was a National Research Foundation (NRF) funded project entitled “The Interplay of Structure, Culture and Agency: contextual influences on the professional development of academics as teachers in Higher Education in South Africa” which was undertaken by researchers at eight universities during 2011 – 2013. The project was an investigation into contextual influences on the professional development of academics as teachers in higher education in South Africa. It was based on an analysis of the national context and eight case studies at public higher education institutions. The eight institutions and sites for the case studies were: Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Durban University of Technology, Fort Hare University, Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University, University of Cape Town, University of Venda and the University of the Western Cape. The lead research institution was Stellenbosch University.
The project emerged out of a call from the NRF for educational research to be undertaken collaboratively, by researchers from at least three institutions, of which one should be rural. A team of 18 researchers were motivated to become involved in this project as they all work to enhance teaching and learning in their universities. The team saw this project as an opportunity to reflect on their own institutional contexts and on quality teaching and the way professional development with regard to the teaching role is supported at their institutions and their academic development units.
The purpose of the research was threefold:
· to make suggestions about how to enhance professional development with regard to teaching at each of the eight participating institutions;
· to make suggestions at the national level for appropriate and context-sensitive policy to enhance teaching and learning in South Africa;
· to contribute to the international debates on professional development with regard to teaching and learning with specific reference to the concepts of ‘structure, culture and agency’ as developed in the work of social realist Margaret Archer.
Cape Peninsula University of Technology:
Durban University of Technology:
University of Cape Town:
University of Fort Hare:
University of Stellenbosch:
Susan van Schalkwyk
University of Venda:
University of the Western Cape:
The principal investigator was Brenda Leibowitz, from the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Stellenbosch University.
A new funding proposal has been submitted to the NRF for 2014 - 2016. The team is awaiting the outcome.