Teaching & Learning

In this section, the term ‘curriculum’ is understood to encompass not only what is taught but also consideration of who is taught and learns, who teaches and how teaching and learning takes place. 

English speaking South African universities were founded on British models of higher education and many of the original professoriate had been educated in the United Kingdom, particularly at Oxbridge. This is the case for Rhodes University.  As a result, curricula were ‘imported’ from overseas and are arguably international in their nature.  Throughout the 108 years of its existence, Rhodes University has prized links with the United Kingdom and with other ‘Centre’ nations such as the United States and, more latterly, Australia.  As a result, curricula have continued to be informed by what has been happening overseas.

Academics have clearly internationalised the teaching and learning mission of the university in the sense that they draw on international topics, research and publications to inform their curriculum content.

Curriculum development at Rhodes University is guided by a policy on the Development and Review of Curricula which requires all curricula to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. (This policy itself is also up for review at the moment). Even without policy, academics and departments take pride in ensuring that curriculum revision takes place regularly.  The Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching & Learning (CHERTL) supports staff and departments in these processes.  The CHERTL is widely regarded in South Africa and beyond.

Internationalised teaching and learning is a priority for universities across the globe as diversified student bodies have brought the need for different understandings and approaches to academic teaching. Networking and sharing with colleagues in the UK and Australia is really important for us.

The CHERTL works extensively with academic staff to develop their capacities as professional educators in higher education.  The Centre runs a number of formal programmes in order to support this work including a specialized course on the Assessment of Student Learning and a Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education. Completion of formal qualifications in teaching in higher education is linked into procedures for tenure and personal promotion.  Staffs needs to complete a teaching portfolio to achieve tenure and to update this as they apply for personal promotion.  Curriculum development features in the criteria for assessing this portfolio.

From the CHERTL perspective, internationalisation is given attention, within the general attention given to curricula via policies and procedures. Several well established academics at Rhodes University have internationalised curricula and encourage student and faculty mobility programmes.

At the Senate-appointed Internationalisation Committee meetings, the internationalisation of the curriculum has been raised at the last two meetings. The Director has committed to preparing a document on this topic to stimulate discussions in different faculties about what an internationalisation curriculum would look like.

The Director has advertised to several academics that the IEASA conference will be launching a special interest group on this topic at the 2012 annual IEASA conference. The committee members recommended that the Director of the International Office and CHERTL dialogue on the internationalisation of the curriculum.

There are several examples of curriculum that is internationalised. For example, the Head of Geography is involved in the joint development of a future studies programme, with partner institutions in Sweden. He has also developed simulation games that are used both here and in the University of the West. The History curriculum covers history from many different parts of the world. Geology’s very internationalised staffing also brings a very internationalised approach to the curriculum. The School of Languages, Political and International Studies, to name a few, all have very internationalised curricula.  Many departments have faculty that travel and invite faculty from other places, as well as drawing on international examples in the content they teach.

Rhodes has a very detailed personal promotion framework for academic staff, which permits generalisation as a scholar-teacher, or specialisation in a particular aspect of university life.  It is evidence based, and internationalisation plays a role in the evidence needed for demonstrating excellence in both the specialist teaching and the specialist research options.

Last Modified: Mon, 11 Aug 2014 09:14:37 SAST