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The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Dr Anisa Vahed is co-leading and managing the Supporting Undergraduate Excellence (SURE). This triggered a series of SURE webinars since 2020 with the first webinar for this year taking place on Thursday, 27 May via MS Teams. 

DUT’s Dental Technologist and Researcher: Dr Vahed, is a senior lecturer at the Department of Dental Sciences with more than 20 years teaching experience. She is the recent recipient of the Fulbright South African Research Scholarship for the 2020-2021 academic year. She is also one of two successful participants who have been accepted into the Future Professors Programme (FPP), which is a competitive and selective programme of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to prepare promising early career academics to become a new cohort of South African professors across the disciplines.

Extending her Teaching Advancement in Universities (TAU) project, which focussed on undergraduate research (UGR), Dr Vahed collaborated with Professor Helen Walkington from Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK in December 2018.   Consequently, and with the active support of the DVC: Research, Innovation and Engagement (RIE), they co-hosted a series of staff development workshops on UGR in both DUT and UKZN in 2019. 

“Undergraduate research aims to enhance students’ retention and their development of intellectual capabilities, particularly for their future employability and success as lifelong learners. Undergraduate research, a ‘high-impact practice’, also provides multiple benefits such as cultivating learning by inquiry, promoting critical thinking and engaged scholarship, which, in concert, has the potential to enhance student retention, completion and quality of graduates,” she said.

Dr Vahed relayed that connecting undergraduate research and teaching is therefore an essential condition for better preparing both staff and students, especially first-generation learners; and linking research and teaching is a contentious topic of national and international interest. 

“The links may take many different forms and vary by the nature of the discipline within DUT faculties. This provided the basis to implement Supporting Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE), which is a new focus of the Research, Innovation and Engagement (RIE) 2020 Extended Annual Performance Plan (EAPP 2020),” she said.

Prof Moyo is the project leader and Dr Vahed co-facilitates/co-leads and manages the project, overall.  Future webinars are to invite both supervisors and students to co-present their UGR projects, which aligns with the ‘Ten salient practices of undergraduate research mentoring’ as outlined in the DUT learning and Teaching Strategy (2020-2024).

The Interactive SURE Webinar session taking place on 27 May 2021 is titled: Promoting Equity in Undergraduate Research by Scaffolding Research in the Curriculum. It aims to enhance scholarly excellence in undergraduate research and teaching and cultivate learning by inquiry, while fostering a host of graduate attributes. The facilitators of the webinar are Prof Sibusiso Moyo (DVC: RIE) and Dr Anisa Vahed (SURE: Project Manager). The invited guest speaker is Dr Jenny Shanahan. Booking for the webinar is essential. To book, go to:

Pictured: Dr Anisa Vahed (SURE: Project Manager).

Waheeda Peters

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