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Friday, 26 August 2016

Extraordinary Women: Dr Agnes Chigona

Dr Agnes Chigona is changing the world, one research paper at a time.

A research fellow based in the Faculty of Education, Chigona’s research is providing the world with insight into the 21st century classroom and also guiding those involved in the education sector, how to achieve success through the implementation of new technologies.

And when not researching, Chigona supports and assist fellow colleagues to write and publish research papers in academic journals and conference proceedings. She also plays an important role in assisting postgraduate students in the faculty to develop good scholarship.

She shared her take on research with CPUT news:

What is your area of research?

My research focuses on education in the digital age i.e. teaching and learning in the 21st Century where integration of the Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) into curriculum delivery is expected. Such integration is important because classrooms are mostly occupied by learners who have exposure to new technologies such that they spend most of their time on the internet on smartphones.

Educators are required to leverage the ICTs for teaching and learning to ensure effective communication and curriculum delivery to the 21st Century learners. I therefore, seek to understand the adoption and integration of the ICTs into curriculum delivery in schools.

Why or how did you become interested in this specific area of research?

From the project I was involved in during my postdoctoral at UCT in 2009 and 2010, it became clear to me that teachers need to be trained and modelled to teach with and through ICTs. I therefore, turned to look at what higher education institutions are doing to ensure new teachers joining the teaching professional are well modelled and equipped to integrate the ICTs into their pedagogies.

I have conducted a lot of studies on how teacher education is preparing new teachers to teach with new technologies. There is a need for teacher education programs to be redesigned towards technological pedagogical and content knowledge (TPACK) to enable the teachers to teach with and through ICTs effectively.

You have published extensively. What motivates you to keep on researching and writing papers?

My research subjects, teachers in particular, motivate me to keep on researching and writing papers. The teachers as foot soldiers of the education system have so many challenging stories to tell. Through my publications I contribute towards the sharing of their stories to the world. I find such assistance to the teachers satisfying.

The thrill of receiving an acceptance of a manuscript for publication in an academic journal surpasses the pain I go through producing each article.

Also, observing academics locally and internationally citing my research publications and having the ‘H’ index growing fast is one of the big motivating factors.

What do you attribute your success to?

The passion I have for my research focus coupled with drive and determination has led to my success in academic research. My family who cares much about my wellbeing has been the x-factor to my successful research career. They help me to live a balanced life. They also afford me a relaxing environment where I could be ‘me’ after a stressful working day.

Do you have any words of advice for the generation of women researchers behind you?

Never take peer-reviews on your research projects and manuscripts personal; rather look at them as a learning process.

Have a drive, determination and passion in research. Surround yourself with people who have interest in your success. But most of all, live a balanced life career wise, spiritually and socially to be able to achieve more and enjoy life.

Written by Candes Keating

Tel: +27 21 959 6311
Email: keatingc@cput.ac.za

Provides coverage for the Engineering and Applied Sciences Faculties; the Bellville and Wellington Campuses, and research and innovation news.