Are you really aware of the messages your course communicates to students?


Are you really aware of the messages your course communicates to students?

This is a key question our next Teaching and Learning in ECP seminar will tackle. Colleagues from the Science Faulty at UCT will share their reflective process that sought to help lecturers become more aware of the metacurriculum, i.e. sum of the messages which influence students’ attitudes, approaches and success in a course.

The seminar will take place on Thursday 6 October 2016 at 12:45 in Room 4.28, Engineering Building Cape Town Campus.

What is the metacurriculum of your course?

Dale Taylor, Roisin Kelly-Laubscher, Bette Davidowitz, Bob Osano (UCT Science Faulty)

The metacurriculum of a course is the sum of the messages which influence students’ attitudes, approaches and success in the course. Some messages the lecturer may be unaware of while others may be conveyed intentionally. The intended metacurriculum can be conveyed in a study skills module or by integrating it into course content. In this workshop, we will first present the results of two studies which investigated the intended metacurricula of different courses at UCT, and then facilitate the mapping of the metacurricula of participants’ own courses.

Both studies asked the question: what is the intended metacurriculum and how is it communicated? The first study focused on physics service courses and the second looked at science ECP courses. In the first study, the discipline was the same but the students differed (medical, engineering and science), whereas in the second study, the students overlapped but the disciplines were different (biology, chemistry, earth science, mathematics and physics). Each lecturer mapped their intended metacurriculum, indicating both the content and the way in which they communicate it. The lecturers then met to workshop and refine their representations. A grounded analysis showed that the metacurricula include constructivist views of learning, self-image and identity in the disciplines, overall student well-being, and study strategies. The means of communicating the metacurricula vary according to lecturers’ individual teaching styles, and include stories, current issues, quotes, metaphors, and ‘mantras’. The lecturers found value in sharing and analysing their ad-hoc additions to their courses in this way. Further studies could investigate student take-up of the metacurriculum.


Sharing Circles encourage authentic dialogue amongst ECP practitioners

At the recent Inter-institutional ECP Symposium, hosted at CPUT, the HELTASA, Foundation SIG, launched an innovative space within the conference/symposium environment that encouraged and facilitated more direct and authentic sharing of practices associated with ECP. In this short piece, Dylan Cromhout, SIG convenor at CPUT shares his reflections on how the event unfolded and some of the clear benefits to participants.

The sharing-circles at the ECP Symposium

The sharing-circles at the ECP Symposium

I really enjoyed the practice sharing circles. I was charged with trying to manage one of them. This proved to be quite difficult because once the academics started talking about their practice, it was almost impossible to stop them at the end of the session. Thankfully we had a sergeant major who whipped us into shape so that we could move around and attend more than one sharing circle. J

I saw how academics came to life as they were given an opportunity to engage in topics and share about their experiences and contexts. You could see that teaching and learning really means a lot to them, and that they take it seriously. They asked real enquiring questions and thought deeply about what was being shared by the presenters. They also added thoughtful and practical insights to the conversation.

I also saw a wonderful collegial atmosphere where people gave one another space to share their views, interact and engage. It was a wonderful professional expression of everything that I love about teaching and learning: Academics coming together to apply their hearts and their minds in order to solve problems, grow professionally, and serve the needs of students.

The Foundation SIG aims to take the sharing circle concept to the annual HELTASA conference in November this year. The year the conference will be jointly hosted with ICED (The International Consortium for Educational Development).

ECP Symposium Success

On the 25 August 2016, the ECP Unit at Fundani, hosted the Regional Inter-institutional ECP Symposium. The symposium was attended by 80 ECP lecturers, academics and researchers from across the region.

Keynote presentations

Keynote presentations

In addition to the keynote address, delivered by AssProf Andre van Zyl, from the University of Johannesburg, 22 parallel presentations and three practice-sharing circles took place over the course of the day. The day itself offered colleagues from the key institutions in Cape Town with many opportunities to engage in vibrant discussions and networking hubs, with many participants commenting on the positive energy generated by the activities of the day.


Some of the presenters in action

Some of the presenters in action

Short interviews with participants (click on the highlighted link)

Andre van Zyl – sharing his insights into highlights of the Symposium and participants’ reaction to his keynote address

CPUT, Graphic Design staff sharing their impression and experiences of the symposium