The value of research enhanced teaching within the undergraduate (UG) curriculum was the subject of discussion at the UTLO-SOTL Series hosted by the UKZN Technology Enhanced Learning Unit, recently. The panel discussion was part of the regional collaboration, which also profiled Teaching Advancement at University (TAU) Fellows.
The panel consisted of Professor Sibusiso Moyo, DVC Research, Innovation and Engagement (DUT); Prof Helen Walkington, International Guest and Expert on Research-Enhanced Learning (Oxford Brookes University, UK); Dr Anisa Vahed, Senior Lecturer (DUT); Professor Fatima Suleman, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Multi PI: DRILL (UKZN); and Dr Rubby Dhunpath: Director of Teaching and Learning (UKZN).
The panel discussion focussed on the multiple benefits of UG research in curricula, including the promotion of critical thinking, scientific inquiry, and engaged scholarship, which, in concert, have the potential to enhance student retention, completion and quality of graduates.
The Chairperson of the Forum, Professor Fatima Suleman argued that early exposure to research is known to link students’ learning to real-world-work settings, develops problem-solving and analytical skills and enhances their professional practice.
International guest, Prof Helen Walkington from Oxford Brookes University, UK, whose work centres on research-based learning for undergraduate students and developing cross-institutional approaches to embed research into the teaching and student experiences, provided a global perspective on this area of work. She reflected on how undergraduate students identify themselves as researchers and value research in their discipline, which is shared via national conferences and journals such as “Get Published”.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Engagement from DUT, Prof Sibusiso Moyo, discussed ways to cultivate valued graduate attributes in the current undergraduate curriculum. At a strategic level, Prof Moyo emphasized that the curriculum needs to create spaces for students to be able to innovate through project based practices outside the formal classroom.
Dr Rubby Dhunpath, a member of the DHET Ministerial Committee on Enhancing Academics as University Teachers, presented the National Framework for Enhancing Academics as University Teachers, which highlighted six imperatives to activate to give substance to professional and leadership development of academics as university teachers. Dr Dhunpath also alluded his work as advisor in the Teaching Advancement in Universities (TAU) Fellowship project, which highlighted that in order to activate graduate attributes, one of which was the capacity to think independently and to take responsibility for their own learning, we first need to define what valuable professional attributes academics as teachers need to possess.
Dr Anisa Vahed (DUT Academic) discussed the various enablers and challenges of integrating research-engaged practices into the undergraduate curriculum. She highlighted the importance of scaffolding research-related activities into the curriculum, particularly in the first-year, and the value of infusing components of academic development into the teaching of research in the undergraduate curriculum.
An unedited version of the video can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=14&v=RRjNR1QbOr4
Pictured: From Left: Prof Fatima Suleman, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Multi PI: DRILL (UKZN); Prof. Sibusiso Moyo, DVC Research, Innovation and Engagement (DUT); Prof Helen Walkington, International Guest and Expert on Research-Enhanced Learning (Oxford Brookes University, UK); Dr Anisa Vahed, Senior Lecturer (DUT); and Dr Rubby Dhunpath: Director of Teaching and Learning (UKZN).
Dr Anisa Vahed