The newly employed staff members at the University of Venda (Univen) were encouraged to work hard and add value to the development of the University. The Centre for Higher Education Teaching and Learning team (CHETL) led by the Director of the Centre, Prof Nancy Mutshaeni, organized an induction workshop for new staff members. A two-day workshop was held at 2Ten hotel in Sibasa from 28 – 29 May 2019.
On behalf of the Director of CHETL, Prof Nancy Mutshaeni, Dr Mary Masehela who is the Head of Academic Development Unit welcomed the participants. In her welcome address she indicated that the workshop was aimed at sharing
teaching and learning practices in the context of Univen. She also indicated that the workshop created an opportunity to learn from one another innovative ways of teaching in higher education. Dr Masehela also mentioned that academics should be concerned about how people perceive them based on the products that we produce as a University. The workshop further created an opportunity to share theoretical frameworks and policies that could positively impact on the performance of academics. Dr Masehela shared how the Univen CHETL as a directorate is structured. She introduced the new staff members in all the four units that are found at CHETL as follows: Academic Development Unit; Disability Student Unit; Student Counselling and Career Development Unit as well as e-Learning Unit.
The Seminar was conducted by two representatives from the University of Free State (UFS), Prof Melanie Walker and Dr Mikateko Hoppener. Prof Walker is the SARCHI Chair Director of Higher Education and Human Development Research and Dr Höppener is a Senior Researcher in that directorate. The two presented on progress made in their research project called Miratho. Miratho, is a Venda name referring to informal bridges that are constructed by communities during times of floods. Miratho project aims to “investigate how intersecting and complex biological, socio-economic, policy, and educational factors enable or inhibit pathways for rural and township youth from low-income households to get in, get on, and get out of higher education”. The seminar was an eye opener to everyone. Attendees got to realise the hardships that students encounter as they navigate university spaces. The research was conducted on students who are at tertiary institutions who are experiencing socio-economic challenges as they navigate the higher education space with the hope of changing their situations after graduation. They said, lecturers should sometimes put themselves into student’s positions when making decisions about the future of students. They explained the hardships those students go through on a daily basis. They indicated that these students also have difficulties in accessing educational resources and technology. They also spoke about the capability for epistemic contribution.
During the workshop, Dr Fhatuwani Ravhuhali and Mrs Hlayisani Mboweni-Pakata’s presentation focused on Being and becoming an academic at Univen (reflections on the self and practices). Accordingly, a UNIVEN academic should know and position himself or herself in order to serve the institution in accordance with the vision and mission of the University. With regard to the presentation on Higher Education Context and UNIVEN Teaching and Learning policies perspectives, academics were engaged on reflecting on various Higher Education discourses such as decolonization, internationalization, Africanisation, marketisation, academisation, 4th Industrial Revolution, globalisation, and what these discourses mean to their teaching, student learning and assessment. Apart from that, academics had group presentations on key UNIVEN teaching and learning policies such as Learning and Teaching Policy, Monitoring and Evaluation of Teaching & Learning Policy, E-Learning Policy, and Assessment Policy.
Dr Ravhuhali and Mrs Mboweni also presented on assessment, teaching and learning strategies for the Univen context. The presentation focused on allowing academics to draw and reflect on their own personal experiences of assessment as students and as academics, and most importantly how they are changing their negative experiences of assessment (if any) into positives for their students as a way of sharing good teaching, learning and assessment practices.
Mr Sam Mugandani from the Center for Biokinetics, Recreation & Sport Science spoke to participants about Understanding university students in the late adolescence and imaging adult stages. His presentation provided opportunities for academics to have an understanding of the various developmental stages of their students and how they can maximize their learning once they become well conversant with the kind of challenges each stage encompasses.
In the afternoon of day one, the Head of Psychology Department, Prof Makonde Makatu from the School of Health Sciences highlighted on how they found Problem Based Learning (PBL) working towards the development of their students.
The Head of Disability Unit, Dr Tshifhiwa Mbuvha highlighted on Understanding students with Disabilities. She advised the participants to look at student holistically, be it health or physical.
There was a presentation from Student Counseling and Career Development Unit by Dr Violet Mathye. She described the Unit as a core partner in teaching and learning.
Mr Willy Xazela, Head of E-Learning Unit shared what the Unit is responsible for in enabling lecturers to reach out to students through technology, especially the Learner Management System that Univen has adopted, the Blackboard.
The Chief Administrative Officer of CHETL, Dr Phellecy Lavhelani handled evaluation process, whereby all participants evaluated the induction workshop.
During the induction workshop, the new staff members were also afforded an opportunity to raise challenges which they have already encountered since joining the University of Venda.
The Director of CHETL, Prof Nancy Mutshaeni (far left) poses for a photo with L-R: Dr Mikateko Hoppener, Prof Melanie Walker and Dr Mary Masehela
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Date: 31 May 2019