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teaching context, and addressing the challenges of
developing a tutorial programme for a course with more
than 3 500 students.
The project will round off its work at the end of 2012
with the dissemination of its findings through institutional
seminars, a national symposium, and the publication of
articles reflecting on the experience of each institutional
intervention, as well as the effectiveness of the project as
a whole.
The project is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
: Associate Professor Jeff Jawitz (principal
Students’ Information and Communication
Technology (ICT) Identities
Semi ethnographic research was undertaken in 2011 as
part of an ongoing project on students’ access to and
use of technologies. This research attempted to develop
a more nuanced understanding of the links between the
formal and the informal, the social and the academic,
as well as the virtual and the face-to-face. Through this
understanding of student engagement with technology,
the study will identify and recommend strategies where
students’ ICT skills and knowledge might be applied or
developed in the learning environment.
Working with postgraduate students (themselves
apprentice researchers) in four South African universities
(Cape Town, the Free State, Fort Hare, and Rhodes),
the researchers formed close links with the 26 first-year
student participants who were the focus of the study.
Using digital ethnography and other methods, these
researchers became the first-year students’ ‘Facebook
friends’, interviewed them at different stages throughout
the year and facilitated video diaries – that the first-years
kept to record the role of technology in their university lives.
A particularly interesting finding has been how cellphones,
particularly through social networking applications, can
act as indirect enablers of the learning process. Through
both formal and informal practices, mobile technologies
are integral to the first-year experience at university.
The research outputs to date have deconstructed the
notion of the ‘digital native’; used theoretical concepts
such as those from sociologists Pierre Bourdieu and
Margaret Archer to understand students’ technological
habitus; and examined the variety of ways in which
students are negotiating ICT-mediated learning.
This project is funded by the International Development
Research Centre (IDRC).
: Associate Professor Laura Czerniewicz and
Dr Cheryl Brown.
Closing the skills gap in South Africa
The World Bank, in association with the South African
government, undertook a major research-based project
– called Closing the Skills and Technology Gap in South
Africa – in 2010. The motivation for the project was the now-
widespread recognition that shortages of advanced skills
constitute one of the biggest and most intractable obstacles
to South Africa’s social and economic development.
Research was commissioned on topics from labour
demand trends to the commercialisation of knowledge.
Glen Fisher, an education consultant, and Professor Ian
Scott, Director of Academic Development at UCT, took on
a study of the role of higher education in closing the skills
gap. Drawing on critical analyses of secondary, further and
higher education performance, the researchers argue that
the South African higher education sector has not come
to terms with the broadening of the student intake over
the last two decades, which has resulted in unsustainably
low graduation rates and substantial under-development
of the country’s talent. The evidence indicates that higher
education will not be able to fulfil its obligations to South
Africa’s developmental needs without decisively changing
its curriculum frameworks (inherited during the colonial era
almost a century ago), facilitating growth in educational
expertise and specialisation in the academic community,
and recognising teaching as an essential and intellectually
challenging manifestation of scholarship.
: Glen Fisher and Professor Ian Scott.
Dean of the Centre for Higher Education
Research contracts
Value of research contracts
R2,57 million
DHET-accredited journals
19.68 units
Peer-reviewed publications
ERP participants