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15 October 2020 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Jolandi Griesel
Dr Michael von Maltitz embraces the possibilities that the internet provides for education. He wants his students to be comfortable evaluating and using information from the internet to solve their problems.

“My research in teaching and learning is driven mostly by curiosity – when I feel something is not working in a class, I look for alternatives and I am quick to adopt something new.”

This is how Dr Michael von Maltitz approaches his research. This perspective on things is also what brought him an award from the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) during the Annual UFS Excellence in Learning and Teaching Conference 2020 that was held on 21 and 22 September 2020. 

Dr Von Maltitz, who is Programme Director and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematical Statistics and Actuarial Science, received an Excellence in Learning and Teaching award in the category Technology Enhanced Learning. 

He teaches Causal Inference and Generalised Linear Models for third-year Mathematical Statistics students, and Sampling Distribution Theory for second-year Mathematical Statistics students. 

Follow the lead of practice

Grabbing the attention of the judges, he believes, was his passion for new teaching and learning methods. He is also of the opinion that it is important to embrace the information – the incredible amount of free, valuable content online – that is freely available to staff and students all the time.

“I am passionate about the fact that we need to stop asking our students to write tests when this is not done in that student’s industry. At university, we need to assess knowledge in the same way it is assessed in practice. This ultimately means that information capturing (which is what we expect from students in a textbook-to-test format) should be left to machines and the internet. Critical thinking, knowledge valuation, and self-assessment (i.e. facets of learning how to learn) should be developed while at university.”

“The internet is everywhere now, and we’re fooling ourselves if we think we can teach our students how to navigate their futures without incorporating the internet into our teachings,” he adds.

Dr Von Maltitz embraces the possibilities that the internet provides. “Hopefully, when my students are finished with my modules, they will be more comfortable evaluating and using information from the internet to solve their problems, like I do on a day-to-day basis,” he says. 

Seeking new methods

On receiving this award, Dr Von Maltitz voiced his gratitude for the opportunity to present his ideas and practices; “it suggests that others might find my work useful”.

He says that it helps him feel justified in trying new methods in teaching and learning every year.

Dr Von Maltitz has big plans for the next five years. He wants to make it to Associate Professor, partially on the strength of his teaching and learning portfolio.

“My goal is to ensure that my gradual exploration of my research field in Mathematical Statistics always raises the impact of my modules for my students and improves the quality and quantity of my postgraduate supervision. I also hope that my teaching and learning research will continue to improve my ability to transform my students into life-long learners.”


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