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You don’t know what you don’t know

- Wits University

It is life-changing, say discipline experts, about a programme for lecturers.

“You don’t know what you don’t know as a teacher until you start this programme. We all pride ourselves on being experts in our disciplines and assume that being an expert is sufficient to be able to teach,” says Althea Moodley, a lecturer in the School of Economic and Business Sciences.

Globally, the practice is to employ lecturers based on their knowledge of a specific subject. Little emphasis is placed on their teaching competency. Consequently, more and more universities are professionalising teaching in order to improve teaching outcomes and student experience.

Dr Laura Dison, Danie De Klerk, Althea Moodley and Prof Moyra Keane

Moodley, a young academic, is part of the second cohort of Wits academics and professional staff who have completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education, designed to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in the University. The group graduated on 3 July 2018, adding to the week-long excitement of academic excellence, which culminated in capping 136 PhD graduates – the highest number for the University under one roof.

Danie De Klerk, a Student Success and Support and Academic Advisor in the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, believes that every academic should enrol for the Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education.

“It is unrealistic to expect people who are not qualified educators to educate other people. In the same way that a doctor or a lawyer has to be a certified or qualified person, I feel that there is an expectation for academic staff in the University to also be qualified educators in addition to being experts in their discipline,” he says.

After completing the diploma, De Klerk feels empowered to speak with authority about curriculum design, assessment practices and implementation. He is further able to come up with realistic and responsive solutions which fit the ever changing student population and dynamics.

The enduring education bug has bitten. De Klerk has registered for a PhD in Higher Education Studies with a focus on Academic Advisory. Moodley’s PhD focuses on developing a competency framework for principals using management and human resource management theories and practices.

You can teach an old dog new tricks

Dr Samuel Khoza, who already holds a PhD and has teaching experience from FETs and traditional universities, did not imagine that he would gain so much from the diploma course and rethink his teaching practice.

“I thought I knew how teaching and learning happens. As soon as I engaged with the programme, I realised that there are so many things that I didn’t know. The current generation and society is different. We won’t have them in the class if we don’t change how we teach,” says Khoza.

Like his colleagues, Khoza feels strongly that all academics, irrespective of their level, should enrol for the programme, as it will open new ways of teaching, full immersion in the curriculum, and ultimately contribute to student throughput.  

Congratulations to these Witises who have completed the PGDip (HE):

  • Alan Cornell, School of Physics
  • Danie De Klerk, Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management
  • Cherae Halley, Drama for Life, Faculty of Humanities
  • Samuel Khoza, Educational Information and Engineering Technology, Faculty of Humanities
  • Nomasonto Mahlangu, Wartenweiler Library Circulation Desk
  • Elias Matinde, School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering
  • Rajohane Matshedisho, School of Social Sciences (Sociology)
  • Althea Moodley, School of Economic and Business Sciences
  • Margaret Olateju, School of Anatomical Sciences