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06 August 2018 Photo Sonia Small
Karen Lazenby WomenofKovsies
Dr Karen Lazenby strives for a stronger, rule-based, and consistent governance structure.

A transformed University of the Free State (UFS) will be one that promotes social justice in everything it does, a university where its diverse people feel a sense of common purpose and engagement. The UFS is developing this through its Integrated Transformation Plan (ITP) introduced in January 2017. 

“The majority of the current systems and processes in student administration at the university are still manual. This lack of automation leads to inconsistencies and service failures,” says Dr Karen Lazenby. As Registrar for Systems and Administration, Dr Lazenby is responsible for ensuring a smooth and efficient student lifecycle across all three campuses. 

With the ITP, the Governance: Systems and Administration work stream strives to have a stronger, rule-based, and consistent governance structure with a single line of accountability in student administration across all faculties and relevant support departments on the three campuses. By ensuring this ease of use and access there will be an integrated student experience and greater empowerment of students.

“Our focus is on automation and self-services for students (such as the time-table, requests for additional and ad hoc exams and appeals), to ensure transparency and accessibility of rules and policies, decisions relating to admission, progression rules, awarding of qualifications and graduation and faculty and general rules,” Dr Lazenby said.  It will also entail the optimisation of PeopleSoftCampus (the Enterprise Resource Planning system).

“Through this automation, I would also like to get the university’s student administration to such a level that academic staff can focus their energy on teaching and research and student administration staff can focus more on quality assurance,” said Dr Lazenby.

News Archive

Qwaqwa Campus’s Teaching and Learning Champs scoop up award
2014-10-24



Dr Elize Smuts (right) proudly displaying the UFS Vice-Chancellor’s Team Award. Equally ecstatic, is Qwaqwa Campus’s CTL Manager, Fred Mudavanhu.
Photo: Thabo Kessah
Action research to improve classroom practice and student success rates, recently received a boost when the Qwaqwa Campus’s Teaching and Learning (TL) Champions were honoured with the prestigious UFS Vice-Chancellor’s Team Award. The award was in recognition of the team’s efforts to enhance professional development and was accompanied by a R50 000 prize that will be utilised to further encourage and develop a scholarly culture on the Qwaqwa Campus.

“An active learning community has developed over the past four years, which led to the creation of a scholarly forum for sharing problems, experiences and new knowledge”, revealed Dr Elize Smuts, who has been the pillar of strength in the development of TL Champs.

“This”, Dr Smuts said, “has continuously motivated the group to persevere in challenging and often under-resourced circumstances.”

 “Over a four-year period, 44 projects were undertaken, many with great success. Thirteen scholars participated in a pilot of CLASSE (Classroom Assessment of Student Engagement) in 2013. This survey, contextualised by staff from the Centre for Teaching and Learning, was a first in South Africa,” said Dr Smuts.

“The team undertook extensive literature reviews and attended numerous workshops on principles and practices of good teaching, research and writing. The two summarising booklets they prepared from two publications (How Learning Works: 7 Research-based Principles for Smart Teaching and Student Engagement Techniques) in 2013, will serve as guides and inspiration for the larger academic community of the UFS for many years.”

Since the formation of this team, TL scholars have presented 25 papers at 12 national and two international conferences.

“Taking into consideration that it is not easy to get an abstract accepted for presentation, these are impressive achievements,” Dr Smuts said.

“Some of the immediate results of scholars engaged in this project, include improved student success rates averaging 20% compared to only 8% improvement by academics who are not part of the project.”
 
“In 2013, one TL scholar reported student success rates that increased by 29%; another reported 80% on average; and another reported an increase from 65% to 95% in a class bigger than previous years.”

In congratulating the team, Centre for Teaching and Learning’s (CTL) Prof Annette Wilkinson said that she was very proud of the team.
 
“The team’s dedication and growth in scholarly practice – amidst challenging circumstances – are in my mind, the outstanding features of the project. I am very proud of the entire team”, said Prof Wilkinson.

The two presentations at international conferences were delivered by Ms Lea Koenig at the 32nd Annual Conference on the First-Year-Experience in Orlando, Florida and by Dr Elize Smuts in North Carolina. Both of these were presented in 2013.


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