Two new colleagues joined CHERTL at the end of 2019

Roxana Chiappa & Neil Kramm
Roxana Chiappa & Neil Kramm

By Roxana Chiappa

Originally from Chile, Roxana Chiappa joined CHERTL last November 2019, after completing her doctoral degree in higher education at the University of Washington, Seattle (2019).

Roxana explains that CHERTL's work intersects with her research interest of exploring how the inequalities in societies affect and influence the careers and lives of academics.

Roxana's decision to move to South Africa started, without planning, in 2018, when she presented part of her dissertation work at the World Education Research Association Conference (WERA). Her dissertation focused on how social class of origin influences the careers of doctorate holders who pursue academic careers. "I was aware of the similarities in the strategies that the governments of Chile and South Africa have implemented to increase the numbers of doctoral graduates in the two countries. However, it was not until I talked to South African colleagues, that I noticed that Chile and South Africa had several historical and geopolitical conditions in common that would be worth exploring further”.

Roxana explains that at the end of her conference presentation, she teased the audience and said, “I would love to learn more about South Africa. Does anyone here need a research assistant?”.

Two weeks later, a person who was part of the audience during her presentation sent her the advertisement for a post at CHERTL. Roxana contributes to the Postgraduate diploma in higher education (PGDip HE) and the new doctoral project in Social Justice and Quality of Higher Education. In addition, Roxana is working on a research project that aims to examine the effects of gender, race and class in the process of formation and the career outcomes of academics in South Africa and Chile.

Neil joined CHERTL in December 2019. His was previously employed at Stellenbosch University, where he supported the implementation of blended learning and teaching in the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Engineering. “It is a field I fell into by accident as a tutor but immediately fell in love with the idea of blended learning as strategy to engage students and support their learning”.

He has worked with academic staff from disciplines and fields as diverse as liberal and performing arts to the abstract mathematical modules in the Faculty of Engineering. According to Neil, these experiences have exposed him to many different innovative and pedagogically sound approaches to using technology in teaching and learning.

Before venturing into the field of Educational Technologies in higher education, Neil taught social research methods at undergraduate and postgraduate levels where he used innovative blended learning approaches. Neil’s teaching ignited student passion for what is often experienced as a dull and dreary module in many disciplines.

Neil has a MA in Sociology and is interested in the mutual influence of technology and society. Currently, he is finalizing research projects on online exams and the use of video in the teaching of music and aural training.

Neil is currently working on a PhD on the possibilities of educational technology for augmenting learning in traditionally difficult courses.

About his first impressions of joining CHERTL, Neil comments: “I am really excited to be joining one of the most established teaching and learning centres in the country”. He is looking forward to engaging with different faculties and departments at Rhodes University.