KEYNOTE TITLE: Reframing the Curriculum: A transformative reform strategy for South African Higher Education
Although there has been rapid expansion of higher education around the globe it has not resulted in a more equitable higher education. Drawing on Fraser’s definition of justice as ‘parity of participation’, equity in higher education is conceptualized as both equity of access and outcomes. The tensions between expansion and equity are illustrated by comparing South Africa’s equity challenges with those of Brazil and the United States. Focusing on South Africa’s critical choices, the paper then offers four scenarios or possible futures to illustrate some of the trade-offs and strategic choices. The main argument is that if South Africa’s higher education system continues to expand without a concomitant investment in the effectiveness of teaching and learning, it will not achieve the policy goals of equity of access and outcomes. Furthermore the investment needs to be strategically targeted to interventions that have a catalytic effect, serving as systemic levers of change that lead to reduced drop-out rates and improved graduation rates. To this end the paper argues that the state needs to prioritize over the next decade an investment in an undergraduate curriculum more ‘fit for purpose’. In the final section, a proposal is made for what this educational investment would look like at the institutional level. Fraser’s concept of ‘reframing’ is drawn on to conceptualize a transformative curriculum reform strategy.
Suellen Shay is Associate Professor and Dean in the Centre for Higher Education Development at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Her career has spanned a range of types of higher education development work, including language development, curriculum development, and staff and institutional development.
Her research brings the theoretical frameworks of sociology of education to an understanding of higher education, specifically focusing on assessment and more recently knowledge and curriculum. Her recent research and development on curriculum has included developing conceptual frameworks for curriculum differentiation from a knowledge point of view.
This interest emerged in 2010 when she served as a consultant to a SANTED-funded Comprehensive University research and development project. In 2014 she was awarded DHET Teaching Development Grant funds for a national research and development project on the Flexible curriculum. She was editor of a special issue in Teaching in Higher Education coming out in May 2016 on Curriculum as Contestation. Her current research project is understanding the range of ‘drivers’ on curriculum reform policy in the global higher education landscape.
Her most recent publications include:
Shay, S. (2016) Curriculum at the Boundaries. Higher Education, 71(3), x-y.
Shay, S., Peseta, T. (2016). Editorial: A Socially Just Curriculum Reform Agenda. Teaching in Higher Education, 21(4), 361-366.
Shay, S. (2015) Curriculum reform in higher education: a contested space. Teaching in Higher Education, 20(4), 431–441.
Maton, K., Hood, S., Shay, S. (2015) (editors) Knowledge-building: Educational Studies in Legitimation Code Theory. Routledge.
Shay, S. & Steyn (2015) Enabling knowledge progression in vocational curricula: Design as a case study. In Maton, K., Hood, S., Shay, S. (editors) Knowledge-building: Educational Studies in Legitimation Code Theory. Routledge.
Shay, S. 2014 Curriculum in Higher Education: Beyond False Choices. In Thinking about Higher Education, eds. Gibbs, P & Barnett, R. Chapter 10, p. 141-157. Springer.
Shay, S. (2013) Conceptualizing curriculum differentiation in higher education: a sociology of knowledge point of view. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 34,4, p. 563-582.
KEYNOTE TITLE: Rethinking the Curriculum (again): are we missing something?
The keynote address looks at the concern with curriculum in HE raised by the #must fall movements in historical perspective. It engages critically with the attempts at reviewing curriculum that are currently taking place and proposes some possible approaches to review higher education curriculum in a radical way.
Dr Lis Lange is Vice-Rector: Academic at the University of the Free State, where she previously held a substantive position as Senior Director heading the Directorate for Institutional Research and Academic Planning.
Before this, she was the Executive Director (2006-2010) of the Higher Education Quality Committee of the Council of Higher Education (CHE), and Acting CEO of the same organisation between August 2007 and April 2008. She has been involved in the development and implementation of science and technology and higher education policy in South Africa for a decade and a half, working in different capacities in the Human Sciences Research Council, the National Research Foundation and the Council on Higher Education.
Dr Lange has served as a member of the board of the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) and has participated in several international initiatives on quality assurance. She is the editor of an academic journal focused on the humanities, Acta Academica. She has undertaken research and published in the fields of history, higher education and quality assurance. Her major concern in both research and practice is the role of higher education in the development of democratic societies based on social justice.
Dr Lange studied in Argentina, Mexico and South Africa, where she obtained a PhD in South African history from the University of the Witwatersrand.
As academic professionals, we value participation in scholarship, not because it is required or expected of us, but because it is a vital part of how we come to understand our world.
Jeffrey L. Buller, 2015. Change Leadership in Higher Education: A Practical Guide to Academic Transformation.