Description: HELTASA 2014 Keywords: logo

Pre-conference workshops

The following pre-conference workshops will be facilitated at the HELTASA Conference 2014

Workshop title

Workshop 1

Teaching for reading comprehension improvement

Prof William Grabe & Prof Fredricka L. Stoller (Northern Arizona University)

Workshop 2

Analyzing Texts to Improve Students’ Reading and Writing Abilities

Prof William Grabe & Prof Fredricka L. Stoller (Northern Arizona University)

Workshop 3

Personality and implications for post-graduate supervision leadership (in)effectiveness

Dr Tessie Herbst & Ms Dilla Wright (Tshwane University of Technology)

Workshop 4

Unlocking the hidden potential of educational theories: from theory to practice

Dr Madelein Koning & Dr Mpho Jama (University of the Free State)

Workshop 5

Difficult Dialogues: Facilitating civil discourse for social change

Dr Deirdre van Jaarsveldt & Ms Jackie Storer (University of the Free State)

Workshop 6

Dialogue on disability: Opening channels for success

Dr Charity Ndeya-Ndereya & Dr Deirdre van Jaarsveldt (University of the Free State)

Workshop 7

Developing a New Generation of Academics : Using Critical Thinking and Critical Reflections of Lived Experiences as Evidence for Success in Academic Staff Development

Dr Delysia Timm (Durban University of Technology)

Workshop 8

Power of Analysis: Using assessment data to inform learning and teaching

Ms Shoba Rathilal, Dr Rosaline Govender, Ms Nalini Chitanand & Ms Shubnam Rambharos (Durban University of Technology)

Workshop 9

Portfolios as integral part of a curriculum: a framework for implementation

Dr Susan van Schalkwyk & Ms Nicolene Herman (Stellenbosch University)

If you have registered for a pre-conference workshop via the online registration form, please follow the Doodle link to reserve a seat in the specific workshop(s) that you are interested in attending, as space is limited for some of the workshops. Doodle links can be found with the abstract of each workshop below. There are two time slots scheduled for workshops, a morning and afternoon slot, so delegates can RSVP to more than one workshop if interested.

Workshop 1: Teaching for reading comprehension improvement
Facilitators: Prof William Grabe & Prof Fredricka L. Stoller (Northern Arizona University)
Maximum number of attendees: 30
Tuesday, 18 November 2014, 10:00

One of the interesting challenges facing teachers is how to ensure that students really comprehend the texts that they are assigned to read. In some cases, students have great difficulty in comprehending even fairly simple texts and identifying what the main ideas are. Other students, with more developed reading skills, still encounter challenges when asked to identify main ideas in more academic texts. Because reading typically plays an important role in university studies, teaching, rather than testing, comprehension is essential.

An important question is how to teach reading comprehension to students. Most often, reading comprehension is carried out through post-reading comprehension questions and a few extension activities. The teacher usually assumes that if students answer the questions, they have comprehended the text. In fact, post-reading comprehension questions can be a useful activity to promote comprehension when used appropriately (Trabasso & Bouchard, 2002). However, too often this activity becomes a passive, non-engaging student experience and comprehension skills are not enhanced. And sometimes, post reading questions do little more than test comprehension skills (rather than teach comprehension skills).

The goal of this workshop is to identify and demonstrate alternative options for teaching reading comprehension. Participants will engage in a series of activities that show how comprehension skills can be taught, and taught in ways that can be readily integrated into existing textbook and teaching materials without disrupting an existing (and sometimes imposed) curriculum.

*To reserve your space for this workshop, RSVP via the Doodle link.

Workshop 2: Analyzing Texts to Improve Students’ Reading and Writing Abilities
Facilitators: Prof William Grabe & Prof Fredricka L. Stoller (Northern Arizona University)
Maximum number of attendees: 30
Tuesday, 18 November 2014, 14:00

In this workshop, participants will engage in a variety of hands-on activities that illustrate effective ways to transition students from everyday genres to academic genres. We begin by reading and analyzing everyday genres for indications of (a) audience and purpose, (b) organization, (c) writing conventions, (d) grammar and mechanics, and (e) content. Workshop participants will gain an appreciation for the various components of writing that must coalesce for a written piece to meet reader expectations. From everyday genres, we will transition to academic texts. The workshop will guide participants through an academic text using graphic organizers. These graphic organizers will help participants visualize various ways that information is organized in expository writing. Implications for writing will be explored.

*To reserve your space for this workshop, RSVP via the Doodle link.

Workshop 3: Personality and implications for post-graduate supervision leadership (in)effectiveness
Facilitators: Dr Tessie Herbst & Ms Dilla Wright (Tshwane University of Technology)
Tuesday, 18 November 2014, 10:00

“Who we are determines how we lead” (Hogan & Kaiser, 2005, p. 105)

All higher education institutions in South Africa recognize the imperative to increase postgraduate success, particularly for Masters and Doctoral graduates. Post-graduate supervision is defined as an intensive, interpersonally focused one-to-one relationship between the supervisor and the student. However, the quality of the post-graduate supervision relationship has been highlighted as a significant predictor of the success or failure of post-graduate students. The role of the post-graduate supervisor as leader as pointed out by Lessing & Lessing (2004, p. 76) is to transform the novice postgraduate student into a competent researcher. However, a good and co-operative working relationship between student and supervisor is essential for this transformation process to happen and if a high quality dissertation or thesis is to be produced (Abiddin & Ismail 2011; Waghid 2006; Bailey 2002). Bartlett and Mercer (2001, p.4) define the different roles a supervisor is expected to perform as: ``... confidante, source of intellectual inspiration, resource manager, grant application writer, navigator of institutional tangles, manager of change, personal motivator, writing teacher, editor, career mentor, and net worker ...''. Differences and similarities in the psychological type or personalities of students and their post-graduate supervisors might have a significant effect on these complex socio-emotional aspects of the relationship and ultimately post-graduate success.

Various research studies indicate that students often complain about inadequate supervision and a lack of communication between themselves and their supervisors. Students also often complain that they need more structure and direction from their supervisors or that they receive insufficient guidance regarding planning, organising and time scaling. Furthermore, students expect of their supervisors to be enthusiastic and supportive (Lessing & Schulze, 2003). Although attention has been paid to many aspects of the complicated process of post-graduate supervision, one often overlooked factor is the impact of personality or psychological type on the quality of supervision leadership. While individual differences between supervisor and student may contribute to relationship development, they also may form the basis for problems in supervision due to the supervision leadership style of the supervisor. Supervisor leadership style includes communication style, theoretical orientation, philosophy of supervision leadership and what the supervisor choose to focus on in supervision. The effectiveness of the supervisor’s leadership style depends on the student’s response to the supervisor. The psychological type theory discussed in this workshop is based on the seminal work on type theory by Carl Jung (1971) and its application and extension by Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs. The essence of the theory behind the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – the psychometric instrument to assess psychological type - is that “much seemingly random variation in behavior is actually quite ordered and consistent, being due to basic differences in the way individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment” (Meyers & McCaulley, 1985, p. 1). The MBTI offers a conceptual framework of personality that if used judiciously, can provide post-graduate supervisors with valuable insights into how their post-graduate students differ in terms of their natural preferences for processing information; and how they make decisions on the basis of what has been perceived. If post-graduate supervisors only use one leadership style or deliver the same advice to all students, they may, despite good intentions, render more harm than good.

This interactive workshop will discuss the role and importance of individual differences in post-graduate supervision from the perspective of psychological type or personality and makes recommendations about how supervisors can apply their understanding thereof to enhance the quality of their supervision leadership.

Supervisors who are familiar with psychological type as measured by the MBTI can use this knowledge to enhance the supervision relationship in the following ways:

• Firstly, insight into his own psychological type can help the supervisor to better understand his inherent strengths and limitations or blind spots; and how to use these insights to enhance the quality of his supervision leadership.
• Knowledge of the student’s preferences can inform the manner with which certain supervision interventions are delivered, resulting in the student feeling more “understood” by the supervisor.
• Both the supervisor and the student can use the knowledge of one another’s typological preferences to enrich discussions about the quality of their supervision relationship.
• Lastly, to enhance the quality of the relationship between the supervisor and co-supervisor in order to provide the student with optimal supervision leadership.

Such knowledge is very important for all post-graduate supervisors and beneficial for post-graduate success. This workshop’s thrust will be to highlight the social nature of the interaction between supervisor and student. It is hoped to assist institutions of higher learning to address leadership or relationship issues related to postgraduate supervision. The major contribution of this workshop is to provide guidelines for effective supervision leadership from a psychological type perspective that can be used in the training of all post-graduate supervisors.

*To reserve your space for this workshop, RSVP via the Doodle link.

Workshop 4: Unlocking the hidden potential of educational theories: from theory to practice
Facilitator: Dr Madelein Koning & Dr Mpho Jama (University of the Free State)
Target group: Academics and teaching and learning professionals in all disciplines
Maximum number of participants: 24
Tuesday, 18 November 2014, 14:00

Delivering high quality undergraduate education that assists students to access success requires teaching and learning practices that are grounded on theory. Unfortunately the very term ‘theory’ can be abstract sometimes, especially when applied to the scholarship of teaching and learning. For instance, literature refers to terms such as ‘scientific theory’ and ‘educational theory’. The former is viewed as being objective because it can be expressed as a mathematical formula with variables that can be isolated and controlled. The latter is regarded as being subjective because it cannot be derived from controlled variables, is less defined and often questioned. Moreover, the myriad of educational theories appearing in literature does not make it easy for academics and teaching and learning professionals to unlock the hidden potential of these theories and incorporate them in their teaching practice. Nevertheless these theories are derived from observing and evaluating teaching practices and learning situations. More so, they are situated in particular teaching and learning environments that focus on specific students groups. Notably, academics and teaching and learning professionals need an opportunity to think of innovative ways of finding their way through the myriad of educational theories that are relevant in their disciplines and unpack ways of incorporating them in their teaching practice; thus assist students who gain access to achieve success.

Therefore, this workshop provides such an opportunity and aims at engaging the participants in activities that will enable them to unlock the potential of these theories. However, given the wide range of these theories, it will be impossible to engage participants in all of them. Therefore the goal of the workshop is to focus on three only, namely the Humanistic Theory, the Experiential Learning Theory of Kolb and the Constructivist Theory. Within the Humanistic Theory is the view that learning is a personal act to fulfil one’s potential. It is personalized, student-centred and focuses on human freedom, dignity and potential. The role of the teacher in this type of learning is that of facilitator. The other element of this theory is to look after the affective and cognitive needs of the individual with the primary purpose of developing self-actualized, autonomous individuals in a co-operative, supportive environment. In experiential learning knowledge is created through real-life experiences. The Experiential Learning Theory of Kolb(1984). Is a holistic four-stage cyclical model of knowledge development that combines experience, perception, cognition and behaviour. In this model a concrete experience is followed by reflective observation, which leads to abstract conceptualisation and finally active experimentation. Experiential learning takes place within bi-directional interactions, where learners actively influence learning environments, just as the learning environments actively influence learners. In medical education there is a centuries-old tradition of ‘learning on the job’, a process that can be elucidated by the Experiential Learning Theory of Kolb. The Experiential Learning Theory of Kolb is closely related to Constructivist Theory. In Constructivist Theory learning is an active and constructive process in which learners actively construct their own subjective representations of objective reality. The process of constructing meaning and understanding depends on the existing knowledge and thought processes of each individual and on the learning activities they engage in. Therefore genuine understanding cannot simply be transmitted from one brain to another without the receiving brain actively engaging in the process. Vygotsky, Piaget and Dewey were important contributors to this theory. Vygotsky’s work is most widely known for his metaphor of the ‘zone of proximal development’ – the learning space that is opened up to a person by receiving support from someone more experienced. Lave and Wenger concluded in the nineties that learning results from collaborative engagement within communities of practice.

The objectives of the workshop are to provide the participants with an opportunity to:

• identify different educational theories and the relevance thereof in their disciplines;
• unpack the elements of the three theories (Humanistic, Constructivist and Experiential Learning theory of Kolb);
• demonstrate by means of an example how these theories are incorporated in an undergraduate medical curriculum and
• engage in activities that will enable them to identify ways of incorporating them in their disciplines.

Yardley, S., Theunissen, P.W., Dornan, T. (2012a). Experiential learning: AMEE guide no 63. Medical Teacher 34, e102 – e115. Retrieved from 2.
Yardley, S., Theunissen, P.W., Dornan, T. (2012b). Experiential learning: Transforming theory into practice. Medical Teacher 34,161 – 164. Retrieved from 3. Dennick, R. (2012).
Twelve tips for incorporating educational theory into teaching practices. Medical Teacher 34: 618 – 624. Retrieved from

*To reserve your space for this workshop, RSVP via the Doodle link.

Workshop 5: Difficult Dialogues: Facilitating civil discourse for social change
Facilitators: Dr Deirdre van Jaarsveldt & Ms Jackie Storer (University of the Free State)
Maximum number of attendees: 30
Tuesday, 18 November 2014, 10:00

The Difficult Dialogues project is an international initiative that promotes the art and skill of civil discourse in higher education. The handling of controversy with civility is considered to be one of the key dimensions of leadership for positive social change. The mission of the Difficult Dialogues initiative is to strengthen a democratically engaged society by advancing innovative practices in higher education that promote respectful, transformative dialogue on controversial topics and complex social issues, thereby reflecting a commitment to pluralism and academic freedom. This mission is aligned with the Strategic Plan of the University of the Free State (UFS), which reflects the institution’s commitment to upholding high academic standards and facilitating social change.

The project involves the creation of spaces in university classrooms for reflective discourse on contentious issues that relate to curricular content. Within these spaces students can learn to display civility by voicing disagreement and responding to disagreement expressed by others in a way that respects other points of view. These dialogues are difficult, because potentially conflicting views, beliefs or values about contentious issues, such as race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, environmental issues, etc. are awakened. Yet, this type of discourse is a fundamental aspect of transformative learning, where problematic frames of reference are transformed to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open, reflective and emotionally able to change.

The facilitation of civil discourse presents challenges and academic expertise does not necessarily prepare lecturers to engage with controversy in teaching and learning. Therefore the Difficult Dialogues project emphasises the preparation of academic members of staff in this regard. Since the launching of the project at the UFS in 2012, 64 members of staff have undergone intensive development and a variety of additional workshops and sessions have been conducted with staff and students within specific faculties and departments. All of these workshops and sessions were presented by means of experiential learning and the programme content was designed to suit the South African context. Research results have indicated that the project has enabled self-reflective practice and that participants have experienced transformative learning.

Based on the knowledge and experience acquired and the feedback received from the participants during the course of the Difficult Dialogues project, this workshop will explore basic best practices for the facilitation of civil discourse for social change. The most useful tools and techniques will be demonstrated by means of experiential learning. Some of the topics to be included are:

  • the creation of a favourable environment for transformative learning;

  • the constructive use of silence;

  • the incorporation of minority views and

  • positive responses to incidents that could disrupt or derail discussion.

Participants will be supplied with a booklet of activities, which includes basic information about the facilitation of democratic discussion on contentious issues. The facilitators are experienced educators who have acquired advanced facilitation skills and have been closely involved in the planning and implementation of the project at UFS. It is envisioned that the workshop will create greater awareness of the possibilities of the project and will provide an opportunity for the participants to respond by discussing points of interest, such as: ethical issues related to the facilitation of difficult dialogues in a university classroom and the assessment of reflective discourse.

The workshop will flow into a complimentary workshop in which a difficult dialogue will be conducted on inclusivity for students with disabilities. The title of this workshop is “Dialogue on disability: Opening channels for success” and will be facilitated by Dr Charity Ndeya-Ndereya.

*To reserve your space for this workshop, RSVP via the Doodle link.

Workshop 6: Dialogue on disability: Opening channels for success
Facilitators: Dr Charity Ndeya-Ndereya & Dr Deirdre van Jaarsveldt (University of the Free State)
Maximum number of attendees: 30
Tuesday, 18 November 2014, 14:00


In a diverse learning environment, the promotion of inclusion is vital and actually regarded as an essential motivational condition for learning and subsequently academic success. The benefit of an inclusive learning environment is that it offers equal opportunities to learning and a sense of belonging for all students. In such environments, where all students are welcome, they feel a sense of community, thus a foundation for learning and participation is created. However, for students with disabilities some learning environments are not so welcoming; for instance, these students sometimes feel that they do not have what it takes to succeed at university. On the contrary, students with disabilities desire that their academic capabilities be recognised, but require enabling support in order to realise their potential. Lecturers require insight, knowledge and skill to be able to create such learning spaces.


A study aimed at analysing the e-learning needs of students with disabilities was conducted at the University of the Free State (UFS). During this research vital observations were made about the frustrations students with disabilities have to face on a daily basis regarding their study processes. These included periodic difficulty in accessing computers on campus, a lack of academic support from lecturers and negative attitudes and practices displayed by some lectures. Further, key findings of the study were not only that the level of awareness about the e-learning needs of students with disabilities should be raised, but that both lecturers and the students need support and development with regard to the effective use of educational technology including Blackboard® tools, as well as inclusive teaching and learning practices.
The use of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles in creating an online learning environment was recommended. This would be accompanied by the provision of guidelines to lecturers on how to proactively apply these principles in their online course designs. For example, adding sub-titles on video clips for the benefit of students with a hearing disability could also benefit other students, such as those learning in a second or third language.
UDL is a student-centred approach that seeks to make learning accessible to all students regardless of their varied characteristics. It is a pedagogical framework that inspires the practice of inclusive curriculum and instruction. It uses methods that reduce barriers to learning, thus increasing the chances of success. The implementation of UDL might require some adjustments to the lecturers’ educational practices in order to enhance learning for all students. Hence, the UDL Guidelines (CAST 2011) were highly recommended.

Presentation: Panel discussion

The presentation will take the form of a panel discussion. The panel will consist of the two researchers of the study, a lecturer who has taught students with disabilities, two students with disabilities and a representative of the UFS Unit for Students with Disabilities. The focus of the discussion will be on, “Factors contributing to inclusion or exclusion of students with disabilities in teaching and learning environments.” The members of the audience will be encouraged to actively participate in the general discussions.

The rationale of the panel discussion is to stimulate discourse on the difficult and sensitive issue of the marginalisation of students with disabilities in learning environments. The panel members and conference delegates are to exchange experiences that enlighten all parties present about practices on the exclusion of students with disabilities in learning spaces, as well as on ways of making learning accessible to them. This activity will demonstrate the role of difficult dialogues in opening up avenues for better communication and problem solving.

Burgstahler, S.E. 2008. “Universal Design in Higher Education.” In Universal Design in Higher Education: From principles to practice, edited by S.E. Burgstahler and R. Cory, 3-20. Cambridge: Harvard Education Press.
Ginsberg, M. B. and R. J. Wlodkowski. 2009. Diversity and Motivation: Culturally Responsive Teaching in College. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Moriña, A., M. Cortés, and N. Melero. 2014. “Inclusive curricula in Spanish higher education? Students with disabilities speak out.” Disability & Society 29(1):44-57.
Wakefield, M. A. 2011. Universal design for learning guidelines version 2.0, CAST., Accessed on 24 January 2014.

*To reserve your space for this workshop, RSVP via the Doodle link.

Workshop 7: Developing a New Generation of Academics: Using Critical Thinking and Critical Reflections of Lived Experiences as Evidence for Success in Academic Staff Development
Facilitator: Dr Delysia Timm (Durban University of Technology)
Maximum number of attendees: 20

Tuesday, 18 November 2014, 10:00

I have been engaged in academic staff development for 19 years. Specifically, since 2006, I have been engaged in exploring the influence of critically reflexive auto-ethnographic enquiry on professional practice in (higher) education, both through my own lived experiences and the lived experiences of others (Timm, 2002, 2004, 2013; Timm & Conolly, 2006) and in the exploration of relevant literature (Afonso, 2007; Ellis & Bochner, 2000; Pinnegar, Hamilton, & Fitzgerald, 2010; Pithouse, Mitchell, & Weber, 2009; Taylor & Afonso, 2009). These interactions have all provided recognisable and relevant exemplars of scholarship, including those generated by the Transformative Education/al Studies multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional project funded by the NRF to the value of R740 000,00 between 2010 and 2013 (Harrison, Pithouse- Morgan, Conolly, & Meyiwa, 2012). I draw the evidence which informs and supports my beliefs and my practice as facilitator of this workshop from my critical reflections of these lived experiences of academic staff development in higher education, and believe that they are also relevant in the further education sector.
Educators have always had to prepare their learners for a world that they will never know, cannot control and cannot accurately predict. In South Africa, this anthropological challenge is further exacerbated by our unique history. We are a nation of people whose lived experiences over the past 400 years has been of illegitimate legislated separation and oppression which have collectively driven ignorance of each other resulting in us being a people who are largely strangers to each other. Our strangeness prior to 1994, has been further complicated by our history of the last 20 years. We now live in a world where issues of wealth and poverty in respect of the material, the emotional, the intellectual and the spiritual have escalated and impact on and in our educational institutions more significantly than ever before.

A political democratic dispensation cannot in and of itself build bridges between strangers, nor can it level the socio-economic and educational playing fields. Like Njabulo Ndebele , “I think the TRC was also about making the private public. I think that only if we attempt this pouring out of personal feeling and thinking into the public domain, will the new public become possible. We cannot tell what kind of public it will be, but we do need to release more and more personal detail into our public home to bring about a more real human environment: more real because it is more honest, more trusting, and more expressive.” I believe that undertaking this personal and collective construction of a “new public” (ibid) is an imperative, not an option. In higher and further education, we need to use approaches which have an immediate and ongoing effect to accommodate changing student and employer/employment demographics, emerging technologies, curricula aligned with industrial development, increasing socio-cultural conflict and violence, escalating health problems, and the need for sustainability in respect of resources of all kinds.

I believe that collectively our stories include lived experiences of many of these challenges, and that our stories contain evidence of the resolution and/or escalation of challenges in many of these domains. Both stories of resolution and escalation of problems are informative. Either way, I believe that we can learn effectively and efficiently from sharing our lived experiences to inform the development of a new generation of academic teachers, assessors, researchers and curriculum designers.

The aim of this three-hour interactive workshop is for a maximum of 20 participants to reflect critically on how evidence of their lived experience as educators and students can be used to access success in their practice as educators and as post-graduate students (Nosich, 2005; Schon, 1983). I hope that using the action research framework (McNiff, 2010; McNiff & Whitehead, 2006) by the end of the workshop, participants will have learned, first, how to recognise (a lack of) evidence of access to success within their own lived experiences, and those of the people with whom they interact; second how to address a lack of evidence of access to success, and third, how to use the evidence that they identify to access success as academic learners, teachers, assessors, curriculum developers, and post-graduate researchers.

I believe that this workshop will benefit a new generation of academic practitioners in Higher Education and Further Education and Training Institutions.

Afonso, E. Z. F. (2007). Developing a Culturally Inclusive Philosophy of SCience Teacher Education in Mozambique. PhD doctoral, Curtin University of Technology, Perth.
Ellis, C., & Bochner, A. P. (2000). Autoethnography, Personal, Narrative, Reflexivity. In N. K. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications. Harrison, L., Pithouse- Morgan, K., Conolly, J., & Meyiwa, T. (2012). Learning from First Year of the Transformative Education/al Studies Project. Alternation, 19(2), 12-37.
McNiff, J. (2010). Action Research for Professional Development - Concise advice for new and experienced action researchers. Dorset: September Books. McNiff, J., & Whitehead, J. (2006). All You Need To Know about Action Research. London: Sage. Nosich, G. M. (2005). Learning to Think Things Through- A Guide to Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. Pinnegar, S., Hamilton, M. L., & Fitzgerald, L. (2010). Guidance in Being and becoming Self-Study of Practice Researchers. . Paper presented at the Proceedings of 8th International Conference on S-STEP, Herstmonceux, UK. Pithouse, K., Mitchell, C., & Weber, S. (2009). Self-study in teaching and teacher development: a call to action. . Educational Action Research, 43 - 62. Schon, D. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner. . New York: Basic Books. Taylor, P. C., & Afonso, E. (2009). Critical autoethnographic inquiry for culture-sensitive professional development. Reflective Practice, 10(2). Timm, D. (2002). "Chemistry is a Gas" Board Game. ELC News. Timm, D. (2004). Use of Games as Learning Material. Paper presented at the South African Academic Development Association (SAADA) Conference, Cape Town. Timm, D. (2013). Towards an understanding of learning as a biochemical process. Durban: Unpublished D Tech Thesis. Timm, D., & Conolly, J. (2006). Holistic Learning and Integrated Teaching Workshops Durban: Durban University of Technology. *To reserve your space for this workshop, RSVP via the Doodle link.

Workshop 8: Power of Analysis: Using assessment data to inform learning and teaching
Facilitator: Ms Shoba Rathilal, Dr Rosaline Govender, Ms Nalini Chitanand & Ms Shubnam Rambharos (Durban University of Technology)

Tuesday, 18 November 2014, 14:00

Researchers over the years have discussed the crucial role that assessment plays in learning and teaching but this hasn’t made much impact on the assessment practices in South African universities. Assessment is an integral component of the curriculum as Ramsden asserts that “from our students’ point of view, the assessment always defines the actual curriculum” (Ramsden, 1992: 187). Although Biggs (1999) also emphasises the importance of constructive alignment between the outcomes, learning and teaching activities and assessment tasks for ensuring student success, in practice, lecturers experience difficulty in designing assessment tasks which are designed to accomplish the intended outcomes of the module. Assessment, especially summative assessment is generally considered the “last activity” in the learning and teaching process. “Assessment is the most powerful lever teachers have to influence the way students respond to courses and behave as learners” (Gibbs, 1999:41). However, the way lecturers design assessment tasks and analyses students’ performance is largely influenced by external factors such as time constraints, class sizes, bureaucracy around reporting of results, lecturers beliefs about what students should know and do and so on. Sometimes students pass the assessment tasks by obtaining only “part marks” without mastering the necessary knowledge and competencies required in the module.

A common practice in higher education is that assessment tasks are often not considered at the point of module design when decisions are being made about the selection of appropriate learning outcomes and assessment criteria. The assessment tasks are usually developed later in the module and most often are not aligned to the learning outcomes, assessment criteria and learning activities. Once the assessment has been marked and moderated the analysis is often relatively superficial and is usually limited to the recording of information like the number of students who wrote the test; the number of students that passed or failed and so on. What is seriously lacking is a deeper analysis of the assessment data which can be utilised to inform further teaching and learning activities. The purpose of this workshop is to provide a strategy for detailed analysis of results of assessment tasks to inform learning, teaching and curriculum design. This is based on the model used in the analysis of the Standardised Assessment Tests for Access and Placement (SATAPs) over the last 7 years. The presenters of this workshop have established that the information acquired through the detailed analysis of student performance is of greater benefit to staff than a raw score or average performance of a group. This strategy involves identifying the knowledge and competencies expected and students’ performances against selected criteria. Such analysis in the context of modules may firstly provide greater clarity which will help in ensuring alignment between outcomes, assessment criteria, assessment methods and tasks, and secondly may assist lecturers to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses against the outcomes of the module so that learning and teaching can be planned accordingly.

Biggs, J. (1999). Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Buckingham:Open University Press.
Gibbs, G. (1999). Using assessment strategically to change the way students learn. In S. Brown & A. Glasner (Eds.), Assessment matters in higher education: Choosing and using diverse approaches (pp.41–53). London: SRHE and Open University Press.
Ramsden, P. (1992). Learning to teach in Higher Education. London: Routledge.

*To reserve your space for this workshop, RSVP via the Doodle link.

Workshop 9: Portfolios as integral part of a curriculum: a framework for implementation
Facilitator: Dr Susan van Schalkwyk & Ms Nicolene Herman (Stellenbosch University)
Target group: Academic staff involved in curriculum planning; university teachers, faculty development practitioners
Maximum number of attendees: 30
Tuesday, 18 November 2014, 10:00

Although not a new concept, the use of portfolios in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes continues to grow with a plethora of publications documenting this usage. A review of this work highlights a diversity of application and purpose, including aspects relating to the type of portfolio used, the duration within the study programme, the nature of the content and its assessment, and so forth (Trevitt, Macduff, & Steed, 2014; Buckley, Coleman, Davison, Khan, Zamora, Malick, et al., 2009). As a result definitional clarity is elusive (Colbert, Ownby, & Butler, 2009). Aspects that enjoy a fair amount of consensus in the literature, and which underpin our approach, include that it is an artefact (either hard copy or electronic) comprising a compilation of a student’s work to provide evidence of their progress (assessment for learning) and achievements (assessment of learning) (Klenowski, Askew & Carnell 2006; Trevitt et al., 2014). Reflection on one’s learning and practice typically forms an integral component.

Numerous studies have sought to investigate the value of the portfolio in enhancing student learning, describing many positive and few negative outcomes (Driessen, Van Tartwijk, Van Der Vleuten, & Wass, 2007). Others, while acknowledging the value of the portfolio to foster reflective practice and enhance learning that is self-directed and developed over time, argue that implementation does not always meet with success (Van Tartwijk, & Driessen, 2009). A systematic review of portfolios in a medical education context identified a number of key criteria for ensuring positive outcomes including the need for careful integration of the portfolio in the curriculum specifically as a component of the overall assessment plan. The literature is, however, less vocal on how such integration might be achieved. In addition, communicating a clear purpose for the portfolio to students presupposes clarity of purpose among those tutors requiring its submission – a presupposition that in our experience is often flawed.

In this workshop we hope to address these apparent omissions by taking participants through an interactive process of curriculum design that leads to an integrated framework for implementation. The framework has been developed through an iterative process of validation during a number of workshops on portfolios in a faculty of health sciences, drawing on previous research and the careful ‘professional reflection’ on our work in faculty development (Leshem, & Trafford, 2007).

Content and structure of the workshop:
The workshop uses our implementation framework to guide the organisation of the workshop. After definitional clarity has been achieved by eliciting participant inputs (consultation phase), aligning these with the prevailing literature on portfolios in support of assessment both for and of learning will be explored in groups (alignment phase). From there the need for portfolios to be integrated into curricula will be discussed as participants engage with a process of curriculum design to identify the creation of suitable ‘spaces’ where student learning or assessment activities may be modified so that portfolios might make a meaningful contribution to their learning (development phase). Finally the implementation framework will be introduced (implementation phase) and participants will have the opportunity to evaluate the framework’s usefulness and relevance in their context (evaluation phase). The workshop will end with a synthesis of the key concepts that have emerged during the session.

By the end of this workshop participants will be able to:

• Offer a clear definition of what a portfolio is, relative to their context
• Describe the potential role and function of these portfolios in student learning and assessment
• Map out how space can be made for portfolios to be included in students’ current curricula – effectively and seamlessly
• Apply a framework to guide the implementation of portfolios in their context.


Buckley, S., Coleman, J., Davison, I., Khan, KS., Zamora, J., Malick, S., et al. (2009). The educational effects of portfolios on undergraduate student learning: A Best Evidence Medical Education (BEME) systematic review. BEME Guide No. 11. Medical Teacher, 31 (4), 340-55.
Colbert, CY., Ownby, AR., & Butler, PM. (2008). A review of portfolio use in residency programs and considerations before implementation. Teaching and learning in medicine, 20 (4), 340-5.
Driessen, E., Van Tartwijk, J., Van Der Vleuten, C., & Wass, V. (2007). Portfolios in medical education: why do they meet with mixed success? A systematic review. Medical Education, 41 (12), 1224-33.
Klenowski, V., Askew, S., & Carnell, E. (2006). Portfolios for learning, assessment and profesional development in higher education. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 31 (3), 267-286.
Leshem, S., & Trafford, V. (2007). Overlooking the conceptual framework. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 44 (1), 93-105.
Trevitt, C., Macduff, A., & Steed, A. (2014). [e]portfolios for learning and as evidence of achievement: Scopint the academic practice development agenda ahead. Internet and Higher Education, 20, 69-78.
Van Tartwijk, J., & Driessen, EW. (2009). Portfolios for assessment and learning: AMEE Guide no. 45. Medical Teacher, 31 (9), 790-801.

*To reserve your space for this workshop, RSVP via the Doodle link.

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