25 April 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin | Photo Jolandi Griesel
Dr Whitty Green, Dr Engela van Staden and Prof Francois Strydom
Dr Whitty Green, Dr Engela van Staden and Prof Francois Strydom, Senior Director of CTL.

Data, quality, and capacity building were among the main topics of discussion at the third annual Teaching and Learning Conference hosted by the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Dr Engela van Staden, Vice-Rector: Academic, welcomed delegates on the first day of the conference. The three themes of the conference were quality, capacity and excellence. “These three constructs have never been more relevant in South African higher education than now,’ said Dr Van Staden. “The quality of education, globally, and specifically in SA, is being questioned. Both public and private sectors are demanding graduates that need to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.” 

The aim of the teaching and learning conference is to foster more collaboration between academics at the UFS. A total of 14 academics from across all seven faculties presented during the two-day conference. Dr Whitty Green from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) delivered the keynote on the first day and Prof Corlia Janse van Vuuren delivered the second day keynote.

The inclusion of technology in the world of work and the use of data analytics are fundamentally confronting our learning and teaching place. “And I hope some of the issues will be addressed in the presentations,” Dr Van Staden said. 

Bringing down silos of research and teaching

Dr Green spoke about the Enacting the National Framework for Enhancing Academics as University Teachers. “Academics are teachers and researchers and they have to engage with the community. There are multiple roles and these roles intersect,” Dr Green said. In order to build capacity in the system it is important to understand the multiple natures of the roles and try to work with them. This is the reason why the teaching development grant and teaching grant have been pulled together to form the University Capacity Grant. “We are trying to break down the silos of research development and teaching development at universities,” he said.

Prof Janse van Vuuren, Head of the UFS School of Allied Health Professionals, delivered her keynote address on Quality, Capacity and Excellence: Dotting the Is and crossing the Ts in a changing, data-driven Higher Education Environment. She shared her story to establish a faculty-based operational framework for teaching and learning.

“I did not know how to bring all of the issues ranging from research, teaching and learning and student success into one framework,” said Prof Janse van Vuuren. She developed a faculty-based operational framework for teaching and learning for the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.

The third annual UFS Teaching and Learning Conference took place from 26 to 27 March 2019.

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