A life changing fieldtrip for the Graphic Design ECP students

Amanda Morris

Amanda Morris

Amanda Morris, ECP co-ordinator for Graphic Design in Bellville, shares her insights about a recent fieldtrip undertaken by their current ECP cohort.



On Thursday 28 May the Graphic Design ECP students visited Worcester Correctional Services to visit the Group of Hope. The Group of Hope is a certified rehabilitation and poverty alleviation project within the Department of Correctional Services (DCS).The projects primary objective is to ensure offender’s rehabilitation as well as in assisting the needy in their local community. The Group of Hope is founded on the commitment of the individual to positive personal change and self-empowerment through helping others. The Group of Hope are involved in the following projects:

  •  Information and Education Project
  • Gardening Project
  • Adoption Project
  • Needlework Project
  • Arts and Craft Project
  • Events Project
  • Finance Project

The Graphic Design students had an opportunity to learn more about the DCS rehabilitation philosophy, who the group of hope members are and what they do. The students were trained on how to make paper beads, which forms part of the arts and craft project that generates the funds the group need to fund all their other initiatives. As a Service Learning project the ECP Graphic Design students will be looking at how they can use graphic design to assist the Group of Hope in making a difference in the community.

The visit was a life changing experience for many of the students and challenged many of their perceptions.

Using the principles of the augmented model to guide curriculum and pedagogic approaches. The case of ASPECT at UCT.

Lynn Coleman, who has a support and academic staff function in the ECP Unit at Fundani, reflects on some salient points raised by Pierre Le Roux (Deputy Co-ordinator of ASPECT at UCT) during this keynote address at the recent ECP Engineering Colloquium held on 28 May 2015 at CPUT.

ASPECT (Academic Support Programme for Engineering in Cape Town) is a specialist support initiative aimed at students completing Engineering degrees at UCT. The programme has a long history at UCT, having started in the 1980s as part of other institution-wide academic student support initiatives. When considered within the context of these early academic support interventions, a key objective of ASPECT in those early years, was to improve the success of black African and coloured engineering students. In its current configuration, and cognisant of the changing discourse and policy landscape that has seen the shift from academic support or ‘bolt-on’ models to the extended curriculum and flexible curriculum models, the ASPECT course now supports an AUGMENTED model.

Pierre Le Rouw

Pierre Le Rouw

Pierre stressed that a key principle which guided the selection of the augmented model was the analysis of students’ capacity to deal with the normal Engineering workload. Workload and how the curriculum is structured to maximise an ideal workload for students is therefore regarding as the key driver to student success. However, a simplistic interpretation of these drivers is not adopted. Rather in ASPECT, influenced very firmly by the principles of the augmented model, the curriculum and pedagogic practices aim to

  • provide students with a reduced subject load;
  • maintain the same cognitive demand and pacing as mainstream;
  • but provide more contact time.

How this additional contact time is structure is perhaps what distinguishes the ASPECT offering and hints at how to best utilise the augmented model to promote student success.


The ASPECT offering is therefore characterised by the following features and underpinning principles that further guide its teaching and learning ethos

  • Teaching is prioritised. Lecturers who are selected to teach on the course have to show passion for teaching and be committed to student success. Time and effort are devoted to the continual renewal and improvement of pedagogic practice primarily through a deep and serious consideration of trends and developments identified in both local and international literature. Scholarly inquiry to guide pedagogy is therefore prioritised.
  • Maths, Physics and Communication is treated as specialist subjects deserving of expert teachers.
  • Groupwork and collaborative learning are seen as key to all pedagogic engagements. Classroom encounters encourage and stimulate interaction between students and between the lecturer and students.
  • Attention is placed on ensuring careful alignment between these interactive and engaging classroom practices and the assessment regime.
  • The psychological impact of learning failure is recognised and systems are carefully structured to minimise students’ risks while students are also offered psycho-social support.

Pierre also raised a number of situational and contextual realities present within the UCT institutional setting. These clearly bolster the overall enabling environment within in which the programme is able to achieve the kinds of positive results it has – like administrative support systems which are responsive to the needs of the programme, flexibility in selection and placement systems, and a strong and established student mentoring system.

participants_may2015While the teaching and learning realities experiences by students and lecturers alike within the ECP context at CPUT are very different from those at UCT, and simply trying to mimic or replicate what works at UCT might not be a suitable response to the kinds of concerns and challenges we encounter, Pierre’s presentation provided some food for thought. Particularly salient are the importance of understanding students’ educational, developmental and psycho-social needs and ensuring that positive and progressive philosophies and values about teaching and learning guide how the ECP provisions come together.

More insights from the First Year Experience Conference

Beatrice Opeolu

In this post, Applied Sciences ECP Co-ordinator, Beatrice Opeolu, adds her voice to the on-going conversation about the First Year Conference which took place in May. Beatrice also attended the pre-conference workshop on Student Success. In this post she raises some insightful observations about how her key learnings from the conference might be transposed to aspects of ECP provisions in Applied Sciences in particular, and CPUT more generally.

The conference held at the Indaba Hotel, Spa and Conference Centre between 19 and 21 May, 2015 in Johannesburg. The meeting focussed on first years and students in transition because students that succeed in the first year have greater potential to succeed. I was one of fourteen CPUT staff that attended the conference. There were pre-conference workshops (Research Incubators) that ran in parallel on the first day. I joined the group that focussed on student success which was facilitated by Ms Soraya Motsabi (UJ) and Dr Danny Fontaine (UCT). Different theories were used to support educational success. They include experience, functionalism, integration, attrition, involvement, comprehensive model of retention, among others.

Two main themes of the workshop were:

  • meaning of success
  • measurement of success

Two very simple questions with many answers! Success is more than the pass and other rates that we measure. It includes but not limited to marks used as measure of performance/achievement. Acquisition of relevant professional and soft skills, being prepared to be a global citizen and an ambassador of the university, family, nation and the society as a whole are equally important.

Success can be measured in terms of proper integration into the community, demonstration of proficiencies, pass rates, social responsibility/leadership qualities. Scholarship of practices using different research methodologies was encouraged in a follow-up afternoon session.

A follow-up session on educational research methodologies (Research Incubator Writing Session) that took place later in the afternoon was facilitated by our own Profs Chris Winberg and James Garraway in conjunction with Prof Brenda Leibowitz (UJ).

The two keynote speakers- Dr Jennifer Keup and Dr Dallin George Young both emphasized the need to support first year students. Types of interventions that they proposed and categorised as ‘high impact practices’ include peer-tutoring, motivation, wellness, co-curricular activities, filed trips, internships, etc. Some of these are already in place in the Faculty of Applied Sciences; we only need to encourage and strengthen those initiatives.

There were several parallel sessions on different aspects of first year teaching and learning. But the key points/comments that got stuck with me since the meeting are:

  • ‘ Make a student participate in two high impact practices- one in her/his first year and one later and s/he will be successful’-Kuh, 2008.
  • ‘We don’t jump for victory at the end of the first year; it is just a piece of the story’- Jennifer Keup.
  • An activity does not necessarily mean the best practice; emphasis on quality practice must be ensured.
  • Transition does not necessarily happen in the first year; it differs for students. Factors such as background, parental educational level, financial in/stability, etc. may influence year of transition and true success.
  • Decision-making processes (e.g. organisational tradition, gut feelings, higher education fashion, follow the leaders/ competitors) may impact of success.
  • ‘Good practices can be used for equity because average students benefit more from high impact practices’- Jennifer Keup.

The conference gave me deeper insights into conceptual meaning of success in contrast to familiar traditional measurements. I am also better prepared now to support and engage in educational research in the Faculty of Applied Sciences. I am optimistic that with continuous students and staff support, CPUT graduates will be highly sought for in the near future. Watch this space…..!