Academics Become Teaching Advancement at University FellowsGeneral

New TAU Fellows (from left) Professor Suzanne Francis, Professor Oliver Mtapuri, Professor Fatima Suleman and Dr Rubby Dhunpath.  New TAU Fellows (from left) Professor Suzanne Francis, Professor Oliver Mtapuri, Professor Fatima Suleman and Dr Rubby Dhunpath.

Three UKZN academics recently participated in the South African Teaching Advancement at University (TAU) Fellowships Programme organised by the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA).

They are Professor Suzanne Francis and Professor Oliver Mtapuri of the College of Humanities and Professor Fatima Suleman  of the College of Health Sciences.

The academics are now members of the expanding TAU network which comprises distinguished academics from South African universities.

The programme sought to build a cadre of teaching fellows in a wide range of disciplines in an 18-month programme involving block week units, individual projects in the Fellows’ own teaching and learning settings, and group research projects conducted under the guidance of TAU advisors.

Mtapuri said: ‘Participation in the programme provided a space for the cross-pollination of ideas encapsulating pedagogical and praxis issues focusing on alternative academic literacies, graduate attributes, barriers to success, bi-literacy development, research methodologies, the mid-point of PhD, case studies and the facilitation of epistemological access.’

He believes the TAU sessions charted a new trajectory of multi- inter- and cross-disciplinary collaboration across institutions.

Mtapuri plans to implement elements derived from mathematics and drama into his teaching praxis in Development Studies while moving towards a discourse of innovation and excellence which incorporates augmented reality for scholastic success.

Suleman believes that TAU provides a platform to critically engage on discourses on Higher Education, teaching philosophies and teaching style, bringing together academics from different disciplines and diverse backgrounds to create a rich environment for learning, collaboration and networking.

‘It is important for academics to have this kind of platform for engagement on issues of Higher Education and leadership as it is often quite common to get caught up in day-to-day activities of an academic and to forget about the bigger environment in which we find ourselves.

‘It has also changed the way I view Higher Education - I now finally view myself as an academic and a professional. Having been exposed to the different theories on teaching and learning, I hope to now spend time getting a more in-depth understanding of these theories and to start assessing my teaching style more critically. I hope it will make me a better educator, researcher and leader for my Discipline, if not my Institution,’ said Suleman.

UKZN’s Director of Teaching and Learning and TAU Advisor, Dr Rubby Dhunpath, echoed the views of Fellows, adding that they have the capacity and vision to contribute to regional and national dialogues on teaching and learning while also providing leadership for systemic development of Higher Education.

Melissa Mungroo