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Law and Management Studies Academics Rewarded for their Contribution to Teaching and Learning

October 14, 2016

Dr Aradhna Arbee with College of Law and Management Studies Dean of Teaching and Learning Professor Kriben Pillay.

For their contribution to excellence in Teaching and Learning, College of Law and Management academics Dr Aradhna Arbee, Dr Karen Bargate and Dr Josue Mbonigaba were received top honours for their research articles.

The prizes which include R10 000 for first place, R5 000 for second place and R3 000 for third place were awarded by the College Teaching and Learning Office in recognition of academics who are publishing or have published outstanding articles which will be featured in a Teaching and Learning compilation due to be published later this year.

“The Writing Centre: A site for discursive dialogue in management studies” was the title of Arbee’s article co-authoured with Mr Michael Samuel which won first place. The article was published in the South African Journal of Higher Education explores aspects of academic literacy development in Higher Education, in the disciplinary context of management studies. Specifically, it examines the effect of Writing Place support on Marketing students’ academic performance, focusing on a specific assessment task over a six-year period.

‘Over the period of the study, Writing Place users were found to perform significantly and consistently better than non-users. Implications of the findings, including issues around the role of collaboration between disciplinary and Writing Centre staff in developing graduates with the requisite disciplinary discursive practices, are considered,’ explained Arbee.

Arbee plans to use the prize money for a follow up study to this article that she is currently working on.

‘The study aims to explore factors underpinning students’ usage and non-usage of the Writing Place. Another project that I am currently busy with, also in the broad area of academic literacy development, looks at the use of infographics in Marketing education,’ she said.

Second place winner, Bargate’s article is titled: “Towards a model of teaching and learning in a Managerial Accounting and Financial Management writing-intensive tutorial programme”.

Third place went to Mbonigaba for his article titled: “Exploring the Reliability of Self-assessment and Peer-assessment in Oral Presentations in Economics: A sample of Postgraduate Students at a South African University”. The article explores whether asking students to assess their peers’ work would improve their work effort and their own understanding of what is required.

‘The research article related to my classroom practice in the course: Economics of Health Care, in which I always strive to change teaching methods in a drive to provide the best possible services to students. Receiving this prize sent a message that my continuous efforts in searching for the best ways of teaching, in line with one of UKZN’s vision, are not in vain,’ he said.

Continuing on his contribution to teaching and learning, Mbonigaba’s article titled: “Multiple-choice questions and written questions matched according to levels of cognitive ability in an applied course: Evidence and practical implications”, is forthcoming in Africa Education Review. Mbonigaba is currently working on another article titled: “Problem-based Learning among Postgraduate Students in Economics” for future publication.

I felt happy when I learnt that my research article “Exploring the Reliability of Self-assessment and Peer-assessment in Oral Presentations in Economics: A sample of Postgraduate Students at a South African University” was recognised and awarded as a third best article at the College Research Day. The research article related to my classroom practice in the course: Economics of Health Care, in which I always strive to change teaching methods in a drive to provide the best possible services to students.

The literature has pointed out self-assessment and peer-assessment as good methods of teaching and assessment in Higher Education. In this article, I was exploring whether asking students to assess their peers’ work would improve their work effort and their own understanding of what is required. I was also motivated by the need to see whether the practice can be recommended to colleagues as one of the teaching tools.

The past race relations in South Africa, which might imply perceived negative connections among different race groups in the class, made this class experiment to be different from other experiments in the past, where non-race based connections among students have been reported to influence the peer-assessment outcomes elsewhere. The exercise sought therefore to explore the extent to which students would be fair if they were to allocate marks to fellow students and the extent to which they would be honest in their own self-assessment.

This teaching practice covered a small component of the course, the oral presentation, to avoid basing an experimental method on a significant component of the course. While peer-assessment marks agreed in ranking pattern with the lecturer’s marks overall, self-and peer-assessment marks were biased in an undiscernible pattern in each of the racial groups making up the sample. These results implied that caution should be exercised in using these assessments for marks especially in contexts where there are perceived intra-class negative connections.

Receiving this prize sent a message that my continuous efforts in searching for the best ways of teaching, in line with one of UKZN vision, are not in vain. Another piece of work that reflects my continuous effort in teaching improvement, “Multiple-choice questions and written questions matched according to levels of cognitive ability in an applied course: Evidence and practical implications”, is forthcoming in Africa Education Review. I am currently working on “Problem-based Learning among Postgraduate Students in Economics”, another research effort into teaching and learning to improve my practice. I am confident that these research efforts will be also rewarding in the future.

Thandiwe Jumo

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