Teachers praise learning course

02 June 2003
Dissatisfied with teaching and the quality of learning on his courses, Eric Wood, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Graduate School of Business (GSB), embarked on a new learning experience of his own. He decided to enrol for the Learning and Teaching in Higher Education course run by the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED).

Now, almost ready to complete the semester-long course, Wood, who has been teaching for ten years, is more enthusiastic about teaching.

Wood explained: "I never had any training in education, how students learn or how to enable it, and I knew there was huge scope for improving things. The course helped me to see the learning process from the students' point of view.

"It has given me a solid theoretical base for understanding the learning process and practical ideas on how to encourage effective learning," he said.

Wood is not the only UCT staff member singing the praises of the course, now in its third year.

Yvonne Banning from UCT's Drama Department was hungry for systematic and theorised learning regarding one of the major activities of her work - teaching. She completed the course in 2002.

Banning said: "The course attracted a diverse range of people from different faculties, each of whom brought fascinating and diverse insights from their respective disciplines to bear on the rigorous theoretical demands of the course.

"The emphasis on critical reflection of one's own teaching practice, together with tasks that required practical application in teaching situations, was stimulating, scary (at times) and deeply enriching," she added.

Banning also believes the course has contributed to her role as a teaching resource in her department.

"My involvement with mentoring new staff has grown and staff regularly refer senior and postgraduate students to me for assistance with academic, teaching and research problems. Colleagues also seem to value my input into the curriculum design of our department's courses," she explained.

For Dr Susan Jessop, Senior Consultant at the Department of Medicine's Dermatology Division, the course was a catalyst for deeper reflection regarding her teaching methods.

"I've been teaching for 22 years and the course certainly made me attempt to be more interactive and encourage more active learning. I'm also involved in the new curriculum development in the Health Sciences Faculty and I believe the course has helped me tremendously with this," Jessop said.

Learning and Teaching in Higher Education course convenor, Jeff Jawitz, believes this is a course that can change what people do as academics. If the comments of Wood, Banning and Jessop are anything to go by, that is exactly what the programme has achieved.

For more information about the course see the Higher Education Studies webpage (www.ched.uct.ac.za/hes) or contact Suellen Shay (ext. 4073) or Jeff Jawitz (ext. 3351).

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