Education Academic Wins National Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award
School of Education academic Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan is a winner of the prestigious Council on Higher Education (CHE) Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA) Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award.
Professor Fayth Ruffin of the School of Management, IT and Governance also received the CHE-HELTASA Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award while Dr Msizi Mkhize of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance received a commendation.
The award recognises excellence in teaching and learning in Higher Education at a national level. Higher Education Institutions across the county were invited to nominate candidates for consideration at the national level.
Recipients are recognised as serving as role models and providing leadership in advancing teaching excellence at their own institutions and more broadly in the Higher Education sector. A maximum of five awards are made annually.
Pithouse-Morgan’s scholarship is in the field of professional learning, with a specific focus on better understanding and supporting teachers as self-directed and self-developing learners. She believes it is essential for Higher Education teachers to strive to strengthen initiative shown by students and to set up an enduring sense of self-worth and a desire to learn and contribute that can propel students over future hurdles.
Pithouse-Morgan has been teaching for 25 years, first as a school teacher and now as a university-based teacher/educator. For the past two decades, she has been studying through self-study research. ‘One of the reasons why I am passionate about self-study research is that it is essentially optimistic,’ she said
One of the central requirements for quality in self-study research in education is to provide evidence of the value of the changes in the ways of being teachers. ‘This means that if you opt for self-study research you have to believe that your own professional learning and growth as a teacher are possible and necessary.’
For Pithouse-Morgan, one of the great gifts of self-study research is an optimistic commitment to moving somewhere new, with the intention of continually reimagining teaching and learning to make it relevant, interesting, and accessible to the students of today and tomorrow. ‘Optimism is hard to cultivate and sustain on your own. That is why I participate in and lead Higher Education teacher-learning communities at institutional, national, and international levels,’ she said.
Central to the work of these teacher-learning communities are academic mentoring of postgraduate students and early career academics, collaborative scholarship, and enhancing pedagogic innovation and impact. All of this work comes together to nourish optimism and creativity among Higher Education teachers.
‘I have been fortunate to receive mentoring from many exceptional Higher Education teachers in South Africa and internationally,’ said Pithouse-Morgan. ‘With this in mind, I am looking forward to walking in the footsteps of these remarkable teachers by working with colleagues as we continue to cultivate a Higher Education environment that is supportive of excellence in teaching and learning.’
Words: Melissa Mungroo