SPMA academics present at EduLearn Conference in Spain
13 September 2017
Ms Brenda Vivian and Prof Lianne Malan from the School of Public Management and Administration
delivered a paper at the EduLearn Conference in Barcelona, Spain, during July 2017, entitled ‘Discipline embedded academic literacy interventions: evaluating an instructional scaffolding and technology enhanced approach’.
In a rapidly evolving and expanding tertiary landscape, and given the history of unequal systems of education internationally, the paper explained that students registering for first-year programmes have varying levels of academic literacy. Thus, ensuring throughput by developing academic support for first-year students is a global issue for tertiary institutions. Similarly, it was seen as imperative to provide academic literacy support for students registering for the BAdmin (Public Administration) degree programme at a South African residential university.
This unique degree caters for the working individual who is committed towards achieving excellence in the public sector and is offered on a block release basis, which allows professionals to study towards their degree while pursuing their careers. Apart from the university endorsement admission requirement for the degree, individuals may also be allowed into the programme through the submission of an age exemption certificate issued by Universities South Africa. As a result, students registering for the programme have varied levels of academic literacy. The paper provided the theoretical rationale for embedding academic literacy interventions in a subject-specific discipline and the researchers analysed whether a standardised academic literacy assessment was an accurate predictor of student success/failure for a group of mature first-year Public Administration students within the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.
This paper further elaborated on the relationship between discipline-specific lecturers and the academic writing specialist and evaluates the success of embedded academic literacy interventions, paying particular attention to how instructional scaffolding and technology-enhanced strategies were applied in order to address the identified academic literacy needs of these students. This paper concluded with practical suggestions on implementing discipline-embedded academic literacy interventions for working students studying toward a degree.
Prof Malan delivered another paper at the same conference, together with Prof Gerda van Dijk of North West University and Helena Fourie from the South African National Road Agency Limited. The paper was entitled ‘Vulnerable road users in South Africa: Using the Theory of Planned Behaviour to influence the road safety education curriculum’.
This paper reflected the findings from a longitudinal research study (over a three-year period) that focussed on determining the road safety behaviour of learners in the five selected sites situated throughout South Africa. The objective was to determine a baseline and specific indicators for road safety behaviour with the aim of influencing theCurriculum and Assessment Policy Statements used to determine the content for educating learners at school level.
For all three years, a mixed method approach combining qualitative and quantitative methods was used. Diverse research teams played a computer-based simulation game with 2 453 learners from 30 schools. The simulation game included activities related to passenger and pedestrian behaviour.
Specific recommendations that emanated from the research pertaining to learner behaviour include that road safety education should be contextually specific with emphasis placed on the lived lives of learners. What they are able to associate with, they will be able to understand and internalise. A second recommendation was that road safety material should be authentic and engage the attention of learners. It remains very difficult for learners to translate their knowledge into behaviour if their real-life situations are not part of the exercise. Lastly, since academic literacy and language proficiency levels are relatively low in rural schools, learners should be provided with books and even games which they can take home and play there – learning should not be restricted to the classroom alone.
The findings confirm that in road safety education, attention should be paid not only the role played by educators and learners, but also the influence of the community in determining what learners finds socially acceptable behaviour. In general, great consideration should be given to the specific context within which learners live their lives. Apart from the methodology used, the paper described the manner in which the research has influenced the curriculation of road safety education for primary school learners in South Africa.
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EDULEARN17, the 9th annual International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies