A Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Workshop on student counselling identity, community of practice and reflective practices within the Higher Education context, was hosted by Student Support Services (SSS) in the College of Health Sciences (CHS), in collaboration with the KwaZulu-Natal region of the South Africa Association for Counselling and Development in Higher Education (SAACDHE).
Attended by academic development officers, academic leaders, registered counsellors, psychologists and social workers from KwaZulu-Natal’s Higher Education Institutions (HEI), the workshop explored the needs of students while reflecting on their own practices. It encouraged collaborative strategies and broadening of their own interventions.
Presenters focused on a range of topics including students with visual impairments and inclusive practices, community psychology, study processes and performance, and using tools to inform interventions.
Ms Roshanthni Subrayen; a registered social worker and co-ordinator of the Disability Support Unit based on the Edgewood campus, presented her study titled: “What’s Next and What’s New. Learning Communities for Students with Visual Impairments in their Teaching Practice Placements”.
Subrayen critically explored the experiences of Bachelor of Education students living with visual disabilities and reflected their lived experiences while completing their teaching practices at schools; furthermore, reflecting on the adaptations made by these students, in both under-resourced and resourced schools. ‘Openness of schools and learners to others, respect for differences and acceptance requires planning, which includes sharing of knowledge and responsibility. The concept of cyclic cooperative disclosure of disability has a great impact on the performance of student teachers; which reflected the acceptance by learners of student teachers living with a visual disability,’ said Subrayen.
UKZN’s College of Law and Management SSS Counselling Psychologist, Dr Paulette Naidoo, presented on viewing student counselling through the lens of community psychology.
‘Current research has reflected on the role of student counselling to include promoting holistic student development, academic retention and throughput, but very little on the experiences and perceptions of their own role and practice in Higher Education,’ said Naidoo. She further explored how psychologists within the role of student counselling made sense of their personal identity, what work factors impact on this identity as well as the implications of experiences of identity.
Naidoo reflected on the notion of student counselling as an emerging community psychology approach; the core-self influenced by different levels within the Higher Education community; the student population, the academic and non-academic departments, institutional management and the greater South African society.
Developmental Lecturer in the School of Clinical Medicine, Ms Buhle Donda, presented her study titled: “Exploring the Correlation Between Study Processes and Performance in a Cohort of Transnational Joint-trained Returning Undergraduate Medical Students: a South African-Cuba Experience”. She examined the processes and performance of students re-entering the South African Higher Education system, with a focus on transnational joint-trained students. She shared the levels of students’ motivation and performance, and the links between the two.
Donda also echoed challenges with transnational education, prejudices and biases as well as the differences in learning. ‘Motivation can be negatively or positively impacted by changes in curriculum, learning environment; and as an independent variable, can stimulate learning and promote success,’ she said. She recommended continuous and intensified support for students.
In a presentation titled: “Utilising Tools to Inform Interventions (individual and group sessions), Reflective Practices”, Educational Psychologist Ms Suzanne Stokes explored the role of student support from a Community Psychology perspective and how to implement High Impact Practices.
SSS Manager at CHS and SAACDHE national executive member, Dr Saloschini Pillay, noted that the series of workshops planned for later this year were a build up to the annual conference in KwaZulu-Natal in 2017. She indicated that the CPD activities served as an excellent platform for collaboration among professionals in the Student Support space.
Pillay acknowledged SAACDHE for sponsoring the CPD workshop.