Dr Severino Machingambi
Senior Academic Staff Development Professional
The Academic Development Unit is in the process of rolling out a series of seminars on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. These seminars, which are open to all interested members of academic staff, are meant to enhance teaching effectiveness by engaging academics in tailoring pedagogy to make it more responsive to the diverse needs of our student population across our campuses. These seminars form part of our thrust as a Unit towards the improvement of student learning outcomes and experiences as well as the institutional throughput rate. The first set of seminars on the theme background to Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, were planned for 18 and 25 June for the Mbombela Campus and 14 July for the Marapyane Campus. Those seminars rolled out so far have generated a lot of interest amongst participants and were thus rated as highly successful. Future seminars will also be rolled out in the following critical teaching and learning areas:
(a) Curriculum Development
(b) Assessment of Students Learning
(c) Portfolio Development
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK
The Academic Development Unit has developed a professional development framework that is being distributed to academic staff members during the seminars. This is a document that spells out the nature, rationale, guiding principles, goals and strategy for the implementation of academic staff development initiatives at UMP, our operational blue-print. It is an instrument that helps make academic staff development programmes more systematic and not just sporadic and erratic. The framework links the Unit’s activities to the achievement of broader institutional goals, vision and strategic thrust of increasing access with success. In this way, the framework acts as a handbook that orientates all academic staff members in terms of the various academic support services that the Academic Development Unit can offer to its constituency.
CHE WORKSHOP ON ASSESSMENT AND RECOGNITION OF UNIVERSITY TEACHING
From 01 to 05 June 2015 I attended a workshop and symposium on Assessment and Recognition of University Teaching that was held in Protea Hotel, Durban and organised by the Council on Higher Education. This seminar which forms part of the CHE led Quality Enhancement Project was attended by faculty deans, deputy deans, directors of teaching and learning centres and their deputies. It was facilitated by Dr Thomas Olsson from Lund University, Sweden. The workshop and symposium covered a range of pertinent themes that include the following amongst others:
(a) Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
(b) The development of Teaching Portfolios
(c) Academic Development
(d) Quality Enhancement at Institutional level
(e) Assessing Pedagogical Competence
Work on how to customise and implement some of these practices in our own situation has already begun at UMP through the agency of the Academic Development Unit.
DOCUMENTING TEACHING EVIDENCE THROUGH REFLECTIVE PRACTICE
We are currently working on a guiding document on the development of a Teaching Portfolio that will be used by academics in compiling their own professional Portfolios. Teaching portfolios are useful in documenting one’s teaching practices and will be especially handy when academics apply for teaching excellence awards or promotions. This document, which is set to be completed by end of July 2015, we be made available to all members of academic staff so that interested members can start reflecting and documenting on their current teaching practices. Workshops on the development of teaching portfolios will also be conducted in due course.