Megan Alexander: extra(ordinary) academic in ECP who is ‘supporting students as they transition into and through the university’

In our final segment of the (extra)ordinary academics in ECP series for 2018, we shine the spotlight on Megan Alexander. Megan is a Communications lecturer in the PAG Foundation and Tourism and Entrepreneurship extended programmes in the Business Faculty. We sat down with Megan to find out more about her interests in education more generally, and current role within the ECP domain.

At her core, Megan is a teacher. She started her career as a primary school teacher before moving into the TVET sector and then finally joining CPUT, in the Education Faculty as a Teaching Practice Coordinator. In 2015 she joined the ECP community when she moved to the Business Faculty as a Communications lecturer. Megan is also responsible for the PAG Foundation coordination and deals with all the RPL applications in the PAG department.

Megan feels her grounding in both the primary and secondary schooling sector has prepared her well for understanding, especially, students’ university transitions and language and communication needs. She has been able to marry her dual interests and passion for education and language in her own educational journey which started at UWC. She completed an English and Psychology degree before pursuing a post-graduate diploma in education. She then completed a BEd in Educational Psychology. However, her experiences of working in multilingual educational contexts and her interesting to appropriately support students in predominantly English medium learning environments, led her to pursue a Masters’ degree in Second Language Acquisition at Stellenbosch University.

Megan particularly enjoys and is drawn to supporting first-year students in the ECP pathway. She feels it is the differentiating characteristics of this cohort that makes the teaching space she occupies a particularly productive one. Some of the main challenges she has encountered, appears to reside outside her immediate ECP classroom. These include, the uneven faculty and institutional support and understanding of ECP and certain structural barriers within the faculty that prevent lecturers from exploring the full curricular potential of the ECP teaching and learning space. Megan believes firmly that ECP academics need more control over the selection and placement of students in their classrooms.

As a passionate advocate for the ECP project she feels that it acts as a vital mechanism of providing entry routes for students into their chosen fields of study. In key ways ECP does address the educational needs of its students. Therefore, it is an important social justice driver in the university sector. Megan emphatically states that ECP is not fulfilling a ‘bridging’ function, rather it is a legitimate pathway to successfully completing a diploma qualification. She also believes that ECP holds tangible benefits for both students and academics. But more could be done to support ECP academics. Especially to forge a closer, more productive community of practice, and to assist with their development as not only teachers, but also researchers.

Megan, along with her PAG Foundation colleagues, recently participated in a few practice-sharing dissemination and networking opportunities at conferences. In 2019 she will embark on a collaborative research project with colleagues at UCT and two universities in Australia. Their research topic: students’ academic reading as they transition through the university.

In her spare-time Megan is an avid play-station ‘gamer’ and she enjoys gardening, keeping fit and walking her dog.