A Theoretical Framework for Professional Development in a South African University
The changing context of higher education both internationally and in South Africa has presented challenges to lecturers that have led in some institutions to the introduction of accredited professional development courses for academics. Such courses for university lecturers are relatively new in South Africa. This paper reports on research in progress on a Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education and Training course offered at Rhodes University in South Africa. It highlights some important questions that have arisen on the ways in which the theoretical framework of the course has or has not met the needs of diverse groups of lecturers within the specific South African context. A central theme of the course is that of the critically reflective practitioner. Lecturers are encouraged to explore the ontological and epistemological underpinnings of their disciplines and to examine the philosophical assumptions of their espoused theories about teaching and learning as well as their teaching practice. The theoretical framework has been found to be most successful for more experienced academics. However, the author raises some important questions regarding the suitability of this framework in relation to the specific post-apartheid context in which the course operates, specifically whether the course prepares lecturers to open up both "actual" and "epistemological" access to all the students at the university.
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