College of Humanities

Humanities Academics lauded for Excellence in Teaching

Academics from the College of Humanities were recently recognised by UKZN for their excellence in teaching.

Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan (School of Education) and Dr Mvuselelo Ngcoya (School of Built Environment & Development Studies) received the Distinguished Teachers’ Award, while Professor Ruth Hoskins (School of Social Sciences) and Dr Miranda Young-Jahangeer (School of Arts) were honoured with Certificates of Excellence in Teaching.

Most of Pithouse-Morgan’s students are practising teachers with diverse educational backgrounds that teach a variety of subjects in schools and Higher Education Institutions. Her educational approach has developed through continuous dialogue between her professional learning research and her practice as a teacher educator.

‘I facilitate inquiry-oriented learning through using arts-based and participatory modes, such as drawing, letter writing, mind mapping, poetry, smart phone text messaging, and performances of scripts for television commercials. Course readings include an array of resources such as online talks, blog posts, and online magazine and newspaper articles. Using diverse methods and resources heightens engagement and deep thinking, dialogue and sharing, enjoyment, taking action, and emotional growth,’ she explained.

For Ngcoya, the most difficult thing is to be courageous and release the handbrake from students. ‘The nature of the world, and the problems students and teachers are supposed to solve require careful thought and experimentation that contravenes the parameters of conventional systems of assessment. Therefore, I encourage students to use all kinds of tools: videos, reports, essays, photo-essays, oral presentations, and poetry, whatever they feel comfortable with. In the classroom, I try to draw from their experiences as well, have them present, teach, etc. I think they feel empowered when that happens. This is not easy work but I’m privileged that I teach post-grad students and my classes are of a good size that allows me to experiment,’ he said.

Acting Dean of Teaching and Learning at the College, Hoskins believes that it is crucial to adopt transformative leadership practices to facilitate teaching and learning at UKZN and one must therefore lead by example.

‘Being a reflective practitioner means that one has to constantly keep abreast of new developments in one’s area of specialisation and also in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Adopting innovative methods of delivery and assessment have always been an approach I have pursued together with an experiential learning approach which ensures that students are ready to make a contribution to our society and the workplace once they have graduated,’ she said.

Young-Jahangeer who is the current Academic Leader for Teaching and Learning in the School of Arts prioritises a student-led approach to learning that draws on innate creativity. She believes that performance and story-telling methodologies that connect real life knowledge and ideas to higher learning, can inspire and empower students to realise their own power and potential to become the change makers that society needs.

The academics noted that awards such as these are vital in that they recognise the contributions individual academics make in overcoming challenges and improving the teaching and learning endeavour at the Institution while encouraging innovative, responsive teaching, and drawing attention to how teaching and research can complement each other.

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