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Driven by the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) ENVISION2030, a series of webinars on Supporting Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE) were launched in 2020.

This year DUT was privileged to have Dr Jenny Olin Shanahan, Assistant Provost for High-Impact Practices at Bridgewater State University of Massachusetts, United States sharing her practices at the first SURE Webinar held on Thursday, 27 May 2021.

Dr Shanahan provided various practical ideas for creating inquiry-based projects, together with guidelines for curriculum mapping and design.

She also leads the Honours Programme, Undergraduate Research and a Research Internship programme for first-year students from underserved groups who assist professors with their research. She has co-edited books and authored over a dozen scholarly articles on undergraduate research, which focussed on the racial and social justice in higher education, excellence in mentoring diverse students, and the scaffolding of research across the curriculum.

Her work on the “Ten salient practices of undergraduate research mentoring” forms an important part of DUT’s Teaching and learning strategy document (2020-2024), specifically about promoting research-engaged learning and teaching at all levels of study.

The project leader of SURE is Professor Sibusiso Moyo (DVC: RIE), together with Dr Anisa Vahed (Faculty of Health Sciences) who co-leads/facilitates and manages the project, overall. Dr Vahed relayed that the aim of SURE is to enhance scholarly excellence in undergraduate research and teaching and cultivate learning by inquiry, while fostering a host of graduate attributes.

She further said 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.

“An exciting endeavour of planned 2021 SURE webinars is to include the students’ voices by enabling them to co-present their undergraduate research projects with their supervisor/s,” said Dr Vahed.

Pictured: Dr Jenny Shanahan, Prof Sibusiso Moyo and Dr Anisa Vahed, at the SURE webinar.

Dr Anisa Vahed/Waheeda Peters

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