The work of CHERTL involves the development of academic staff as professional educators, the promotion and assurance of quality in teaching and learning, and the development of student learning in conjunction with academic departments, the latter more directly through the work of the Extended Studies Unit (ESU). In addition CHERTL also functions as an academic department of Rhodes University focused on Higher Education as a field of study and the development of teaching and learning in higher education.

The Centre conducts research on teaching and learning in higher education and offers formal programmes in Higher Education Studies contributing to the development of quality teaching and learning. The Centre is also responsible for promoting service-learning within the institution, for the administration and development of the Next Generation of Academics (nGAP), for enhancing the quality of short courses and supporting tutor coordinators.

The scope of CHERTL’s work moves beyond the institution, playing an active role at national and international levels. CHERTL contributes significantly to the national higher education landscape, both through the offering of formal qualifications at other institutions as well as through representation on national bodies such as the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA) and the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC).

CHERTL Associates

  • Prof Karl Maton
  • Dr Carol Thomson
  • Prof Arthur Webb
  • Prof Jenny Clarence


Contact Us

Telephone: 046 603 8171

Fax: 046 603 7352


For RUconnected related queries, please send an email to:

Postal Address:

Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning (CHERTL)
Rhodes University

P. O. Box 94 Grahamstown 6140  South Africa

Physical Address:

Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning (CHERTL)
Room 502

GLT Building

Artillery Road Grahamstown 6139  South Africa

Engage course 2021 tutors invitation

2021 Engage Information

CHERTL's Engage tutor development short course and related workbook offer a space for the intersection of thought and action. They aim to serve as a nexus for authentic reflection, constructive dialogue, as well as informed practice towards the development of dynamic student learning in tutorial spaces. Whether beginning tutors wish to engage with ‘first principles’ or more established tutors seek to extend and consolidate their learnings, the workbook attempts to introduce tutors to the philosophy and practice of tutoring. While the Engage text was conceptualised with face-to-face small group contexts in mind, many of its tenets are applicable and/or may be adapted to online learning and teaching.

What does Engage consider? Getting Started with Tutoring; Facilitating Groups for Engaged Learning; Integrating Assessment for Learning and Teaching; Engaging with Diversity in Tutorial Spaces; and Contemplating Feedback and Evaluation Processes. The book is designed to work as a companion text for groups of tutors participating in CHERTL's accredited Engage short course in small group facilitation. It may also be used as a self-study text for individual tutors, although collaboration with peers is likely to strengthen engagement. At departmental level, Engage also aims to offer a touchpoint for tutor co-ordinators and lecturers who are keen to interact with their tutors around notions of small group teaching and learning philosophy and practice.


While the 2021 deadline for applications for the accredited Engage short course in small group facilitation has passed, this document offers information about the course offerings overall. This course is offered by a CHERTL on an annual basis and works with tutors from all faculties. 


Listen to CHERTL's Engage graduates Phumi,  Kundai, Jason, Tyler, and Anesu sharing their reflections on the Engage short course experience.
Click on the link to hear what they have to say:
Note - Scroll down to the 2nd heading: "Access VIDEO & AUDIOS below..."

RU tutoring online

This page introduces tutors, and colleagues working with tutors, to what they can expect to find on CHERTL's RUTutoringOnline? RUconnected page. This was designed for tutors at Rhodes University in 2020, in response to COVID-19 and the resultant emergency remote teaching and learning context. Several resources may be found on the RUconnected site, from communicating online with respect, criticality and kindness; mental health during COVID-19; useful RU contacts for supporting online learning; and educational technologies to support online teaching and learning.

2021 First Year Booklet - Ncedana mentoring programme

2021 First year information - Mentoring programme

2021 Mentor information Ncedana

2021 Mentor further information Ncedana

CHERTL has initiated the Ncedana student peer mentoring programme at Rhodes University in 2021 under the auspices of the Deputy Vice Chancellor: Academic and Student Affairs. The project seeks to offer a combination of academic, social and emotional support to first year students across all faculties.

Underpinning this mentoring programme is the premise that a focus on encouraging the whole student enables first years to navigate the new tertiary education experience constructively. Through the individualised mentoring process first years are supported as they encounter the University’s institutional culture and practices for the first time and guided as they adjust to student life. In the light of this, students are more likely to achieve their academic potential. 


In practical terms, experienced senior students partner with first year mentees in the same faculty. Mentoring groups meet online on a weekly basis throughout the first semester and into the second. Mentors endeavour to develop respectful yet relaxed peer spaces for discussion of whatever issues may be arising for first years, for example becoming certain of academic choices; developing a sense of belonging; general academic guidance; referral to professionals within the University as needed; and the like.  In turn mentors are guided by faculty facilitators, Rhodes members of staff, as well as their mentor peers with whom they meet  weekly in a confidential online setting.

The Trojan Academic Initiative (TAI) student peer mentoring programme seeks to offer socio-emotional support to first-year students from disadvantaged backgrounds as they adjust to the multiple demands of a new and challenging tertiary education environment. The TAI forms an integral part of the Extended curriculum and offers an opportunity for successful senior student mentors, former Extended students, to draw on their previous experience. In doing so, mentors offer guidance to their younger, less-established peers as they enter the academy for the first time. In partnering each Extended Studies student with a former Extended Studies student mentor, Rhodes University aligns itself closely with the core purposes of the Extended Studies Unit (ESU). The Unit forms part of the university’s strategic transformation plan. It provides a framework for addressing community and economic upliftment issues by ensuring 'access and success' for disadvantaged students. The TAI mentoring programme works across the faculties of Science, Commerce, Humanities and a non-ES faculty, Pharmacy. The programme is now in its 17th year.

 At the annual TAI mentor development workshop we invite former TAI mentors to join a panel discussion and Q & A session with incoming mentors. Given the present online context, in 2021 former mentors were asked to share their experiences of mentoring in writing. Questions which students were asked to consider include: “What do you wish you knew when you started mentoring?”, “What are the best things about mentoring?” and “How did you cope with balancing mentoring with academic life?”  Here Athabile, Annelisa, Busiswa, Olwethu and Siphosethu share their responses.

First year students sometimes ask: What’s it like being a student at Rhodes? How is it different from school? How will I find my place in the community?

What is a faculty and how does it work? How do I balance my academics with my social life? How will I cope with the volume of work?
What if there are problems at home? How do I manage my time?
Each first year mentee receives a copy of this mentoring orientation booklet which discusses mentoring and the offerings of the Extended Studies TAI student peer mentoring programme, and how these may help in finding solutions to the above and other questions. The booklet aims to assist first year students to understand the various roles and responsibilities of mentors, faculty facilitators and mentees as well as how the TAI programme may contribute to their development. The booklet provides quizzes and shares the experiences of previous mentees with newly arrived first year students. Mentors also familiarise themselves with the booklet so that they are well-placed to engage with their mentees in this regard.

"If Extended Studies did not exist I would not be here at Rhodes today" and "...It means that I will be prepared for next year." These are two comments from former first year ES-TAI  students reflecting on their experience of Extended Studies. See further feedback from first year mentees, a variety of photographs, graduation statistics relating to Extended Studies TAI students, feature stories on Judy Orpen Memorial Award recipients, as well as an overview of TAI members of staff.

2021 Learning from past mentors TAI

From a chartered accountant to a singer-songwriter-actress to a master of Science, TAI graduates continue to make varied and valued contributions to their communities. Here you will read the stories of Avela, Nkosozana, Nokuthula, Sikelelwa, Surprise and Ziyanda. These six inspiring individuals made Rhodes University their home and graduated successfully through the partnerships which they developed with the Extended Studies and TAI mentoring programme.

Graduate Stories TAI - 2020