Transformation in Higher Education is an international, transdisciplinary journal that seeks original contributions that reflect upon and theorise transformation in higher education in all its different nuances. It aims to disseminate high impact, evidence based research across disciplines in higher education that could ultimately support high level learning, teaching and research. Therefore, transdisciplinary engagements that address contemporary issues in higher education contexts will receive preference. Conceptual-philosophical and empirical works addressing matters that could lead to the intellectual advancement in higher education as discipline and context are welcomed. This journal and its publications are of interest to academics and a wide range of professionals associated with Higher Education institutions, both nationally and internationally.


The Library contains vol. 1(2016) to current

Recent Submissions

  • Colour-blind attitudes of students at the North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus

    Jaime-Lee Ayford; Johan Zaaiman (AOSIS, 2021-04-01)
    Background:Colour-blind attitudes deny racial dynamics and can lead to resistance to transformation because there seems to be no need for it. This study investigated these attitudes amongst students at a university campus engaged with implementing its transformation agenda. Aim: Using a survey, the research determined the prevalence of colour-blind attitudes amongst students and evaluated the social factors that may have contributed to these attitudes. Setting: The research was conducted amongst undergraduates at the North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa, in 2017. Methods: A literature review was conducted around the occurrence of colour-blind attitudes amongst students and the associated social factors. Race, gender, racial prejudice, just-world beliefs and social dominance orientation in particular were found to contribute to colour-blind attitudes. A quantitative survey was then conducted amongst a quota sample of 300 students. The data collected on the social factors and colour-blind attitudes were statistically analysed. Results: The students’ colour-blind attitudes were found to be moderate. The social factor of race correlated significantly with colour-blind attitudes, but gender did not. Racial prejudice presented a medium correlation with colour-blind attitudes but just-world beliefs and social dominance orientation only a small correlation. Conclusion: Colour-blind attitudes at the campus were related to race and racial prejudice. This demonstrates the need for students to be offered room to openly discuss and engage with race and issues concerning race. The difference between the findings in this study and extant literature indicates a necessity for further qualitative research to gain a more comprehensive understanding about racial issues amongst students at the North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus.
  • Table of Contents Vol 5 (2020)

    Editorial Office (AOSIS, 2020-12-01)
    No abstract available.
  • Acknowledgement to reviewers

    Editorial Office (AOSIS, 2020-12-01)
    No abstract available.
  • Table of Contents Vol 4 (2019)

    Editorial Office (AOSIS, 2019-12-01)
    No abstract available.
  • Acknowledgement to reviewers

    Editorial Office (AOSIS, 2018-11-01)
    No abstract available.
  • Blackhood as a category in contemporary discourses on Black Studies: An existentialist philosophical defence

    M. John Lamola (AOSIS, 2018-12-01)
    Background: An era and academic milieu that clamour at post-racialist and globalist theoretical frameworks juxtaposed with evidence of growing anti-black dehumanizing racism, and the persistence of psycho-social alienation of black learners in multi-racial educational institutions. Aim: To engage in a critical philosophical–phenomenological and political review of the experience of being-black-in-the-world as a factor that justifies the establishment and maintenance of Black Studies programmes. The article seeks to contribute to the debate on the vagaries accompanying the institutionalisation of culturo-epistemic exclusive spaces for socially suppressed selfhoods in a postmodern academy. Setting: Racialised social environments as affecting Higher Education, with post-apartheid South Africa as a case. Methods: Existential Philosophy, Black Consciousness and Paulo Freire’s philosophy of education. Results: The category of blackness as derived from a Fanonian existential phenomenology and Steve Biko’s perspective, contrasted against Achille Mbembe’s semiological–hermeneutic and cosmopolitan treatment of blackness, is an existential–ontological reality that should function as a cardinal category in educational planning, justifying specialised learning and knowledge-exchange spaces for the re-humanisation of black existence. Conclusion: The experience of black existential reality, conceived from blackhood as an external recognition and an internally self-negotiated consciousness within the social immanence of whiteness, justifies the institutionalisation of learning spaces and programmes that are aimed at nurturing antiracist black self-realisation, namely Black Studies.
  • Embodied digital technology and transformation in higher education

    Jean du Toit; Anné H. Verhoef (AOSIS, 2018-10-01)
    Background: The use of digital technology in higher education is overwhelmingly positively assessed in most recent research literature. While some literature indicates certain challenges in this regard, in general, the emphasis is on an encouragement and promotion of digital technology in higher education. While we recognised the positive potential of the use of digital technology in higher education, we were cautious of an instrumentalist and disembodied understanding of (digital) technology and its potential impact on higher education – as a sector of education and as a body of students. Aim: To re-conceptualise the way in which technology is understood for its use in the higher education sector, as is argued, would be of benefit for transformation in higher education. Setting: South African Higher Education sector. Methods: Phenomenology of embodiment. Results: An embodied understanding of technology through the embodied phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty and an explication of its potential for transformation in higher education via the working concept of the Embodied Screen leads to a full understanding of the student as embodied and socially-embedded individual. Conclusion: A more holistic and embodied understanding of digital technology serves to supplement transformation in higher education, especially if transformation is itself understood in concrete social and bodily terms as is the case in the South African context.
  • Examining factors that shape Technical Vocational Education and Training engineering students’ understanding of their career choices

    Anthony T. Sibiya; Nceba Nyembezi (AOSIS, 2018-08-01)
    Background: This article seeks to examine factors that shape Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) engineering students’ understanding of their future career choices. Moreover, given the promising and ambitious vision for growth in both TVET and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), as envisaged by the policy framework, White Paper on Post School Education and Training (PSET) aimed at addressing the challenges, amongst others, of youth unemployment.   Objectives: The objective of this article is to ascertain factors that inform students’ understanding of their future career prospects.   Methods: In this research, qualitative self-administered, open-ended questionnaires were employed as a data collection tool to gather facts about students’ beliefs, feelings and experiences regarding certain engineering programmes and services offered at TVET colleges. Consequently, purposive sampling was utilised to sample 113 engineering participants who voluntarily completed the questionnaires, which were organised to gather the required data.   Results: The findings of the study point to divergent views, where some students felt very strongly that TVET engineering qualification leads to full employment because of the demand for this skill, while other students argued that the high rate of unemployment in South Africa is so deep such that even graduates irrespective of qualification are not guaranteed employment in South Africa.   Conclusion: Consequently, the researchers believe that the TVET’s learning programmes should be repositioned to articulate as a poor response to poor schooling in relation to labour market, amongst others, to ease school leavers into jobs or self-employment under conditions of widespread youth unemployment.
  • The construction of a post-academic university: Opportunity or status quo?

    Ida H.J. Sabelis (AOSIS, 2020-11-01)
    Background: Over the last two decades it has become increasingly urgent to rethink current hurdles and opportunities for higher education, not just in the Global North, but in the effects of Northern policies globally. Aim: For the last 6 years a team of European scholars worked on a book entitled, Academia in Crisis (Donskis et al. 2019), AiC as it will be referred to in the article, inspired by the works of our late colleagues Zygmunt Bauman and Leonidas Donskis. Setting: Tamara Shefer from the University of the West Cape (UWC) was invited to provide a foreword to AiC, providing a perspective from the Global South. Method: This served to question underlying dimensions of mutual influence: neo-coloniality in times where the demand for decolonization from South African colleagues is strong and justified. Results: It seems urgent, in the light of recent cooperation and mutual support between these two parts of the world, to reflect on recent developments in and around higher education. What currently ‘neo-colonises’ higher education? More or less parallel to AiC, Rob Pattman and Ronelle Carolissen produced Transforming Transformation in 2018 with the promising subtitle ‘South African offerings’. Conclusion: Combining insights from those two works leads to renewed inspiration, at least in terms of new debates and questions about the present and future of higher education, especially following the current pandemic with all the effects it has had on collegial cooperation, locking down of universities, and perhaps some thinking time over managerialisms and other power processes in academic work.
  • A reflective analysis of articles published in the journal of Transformation in Higher Education (2016–2020): Beyond transformation?

    Anne Becker (AOSIS, 2020-12-01)
    Background: The fault lines exposed by the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and global economic recession unfolding during 2020 in societies around the world, reiterated the need for transforming higher education globally. In South Africa, transformation in higher education has been a priority since 1994. The first article in this journal was published in 2016 during the 2015-2016 #mustfall protests. During the protests, decolonisation and decolonising of higher education were central. Aim: A reflective analysis of articles published in the journal of Transformation in Higher Education 2016-2020. Setting: Transformation and decolonising in global and South African higher education. Method: A reflective analysis is done through a decolonial lens. The contributions of authors are reflected upon through three themes: place (local and global), epistemology and alienation. Results: Although I find the engagement with decolonising substantive, I argue that there is still a lack of publications on specifically decoloniality and decolonial analysis. Conclusion: I argue that the journal of Transformation in Higher Education provides a platform for difficult and robust discussions on decoloniality, transformation, epistemology, issues of sexuality, gender and race, internationalisation and possible pluriversalisation in higher education for South African and international scholars.
  • Philosophers’ debt to their students: The South African case

    Bernard Matolino (AOSIS, 2020-08-01)
    Philosophy teachers owe their students a little more than mere formal instruction of topics popular in philosophy. What they owe their students is largely influenced by philosophy’s claims to be a discipline that is principally dedicated to the study and fostering of wisdom. Therefore, there is an obligation to be wise on the part of philosophy teachers so that they can deliver that wisdom. A big part of this would involve a sort of transformation in knowledge and character that the teachers themselves must go through as a result of engaging in philosophy. Such transformation will not only show in ways that philosophers live their private lives, as wise people, but will certainly show in the topics they teach their students and how they help their students to wisely respond to their environment through an enlightened, relevant and empowering curriculum. If philosophers fail at this task, they will only dispatch fragmented pieces of information about philosophical topics and method that are of no use to their students. If philosophers are unable to see the shortcomings of this approach, then they can just as well count themselves unfit to be called (wise) teachers but technical philosophers. The fees must fall and Rhodes must fall movement coupled with demands for decolonisation, caught philosophers underprepared for such demands from students. Hence, in this article, I seek to examine the legitimate demands for transformation of the curriculum and how philosophical instruction in the country contributed to this protest, which eventually was caricatured in some sections as unreasonable. I argue that beyond what appears as unreasonable demands by students, there is an obligation by philosophy teachers to be responsible and responsive to the students’ context in what they teach.
  • Acquisition of pedagogical knowledge by instructors of veterinary medicine

    Jacob M. Shivley (AOSIS, 2019-02-01)
    Background: When practitioners of veterinary medicine enter academia as faculty or clinical instructors, they are asked to perform research, provide service and outreach, and educate students, yet the teaching component is a struggle for many. It has been posited that academic clinicians develop a teaching style similar to those they observed while in school but this has not been confirmed with empirical evidence. Aim: The aim of this research was to determine how veterinary instructors obtained pedagogical knowledge prior to their faculty appointment. Setting: The sample consisted of veterinary faculty at a college of veterinary medicine from the southeastern United States. The land-grant university that the veterinary school is associated with is one of only a few schools to earn both research and community engagement rankings from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Methods: Online surveys were administered to a stratified sample of veterinary faculty and instructors. A mixed-methods approach was utilised to collect and analyse both close-ended and open-ended data. A coding process provided labels for emerging themes, concepts and examples and each research question was answered with descriptive detail. Results: Descriptive results showed that most instructors (93%) did not receive formal teacher training but derived their pedagogical knowledge from role models prior to teaching. Many faculty members (70%) attended university-sponsored workshops offered by their institutions to build upon and improve their teaching skills. Conclusion: Overarching themes reflected observational learning in situ and a general emphasis on non-cognitive skill development, particularly regarding interpersonal skills.
  • Bruno Latour and the myth of autonomous academic discipline: Rethinking education in the light of various modes of existence

    Colby Dickinson (AOSIS, 2019-12-01)
    Background: Issues of identity, interdependence, relationality and violence are far larger than the human species alone, although humanity has often pretended as if it alone were the beneficiaries of studying such ideas. Aim: Pedagogically, the complexity of existence beyond human being must influence the traditional humanities curriculum or risk further isolation and alienation within humanity-dominant narratives. Setting: As climate change continues to alter our comprehension of what is truly at stake in the survival of life on this planet, however, humankind needs a complete rethinking of its relationship with the multiple forms of life that dwell alongside it, as well as the traditional division between the humanities and the sciences within academic settings. Methods: It is with this scenario before us that I turn to the work of Bruno Latour who re-conceives of humanity’s relationship with nature as an interdisciplinary and boundary-crossing project, one that has deep pedagogical implications. Results: I demonstrate how Latour’s collaborative and highly original work ranges across disciplines and provides new ways to contemplate research in academia. Conclusion: Latour’s thought moves beyond polarising anti-humanist language and towards a way to limit the sovereign claims of humanity, opening discourse towards other non-human participants.
  • Foucault and the origins of the disciplined subject: Post-subjectivity as a condition for transformation in education

    Martina L. Mabille (AOSIS, 2019-11-01)
    Background: The need for transforming South African education can ultimately be traced to a form of Western subjectivity which dominated Europe since the classical age (1600–1750). The notions of ‘discipline’ and ‘subjectivity’ suggest distinct associations with repressive regimes like apartheid, and the present article will argue that the assumptions behind apartheid education cannot be understood without understanding the still more foundational assumptions – taken as axiom – underlying Western subjectivity. This conception of subjectivity underlies the ‘disciplined society’ and its concomitant ethos of expansion, ranging from its colonial projects to the rise of the human sciences. As a result, it is of considerable value for the South African educational environment to consider Michel Foucault’s unmasking of the interplay between subjectivity, truth and power, and to explore the possibilities offered by Foucault’s own ethic of transgression. Aim: Drawing on Michel Foucault’s genealogy of the modern subject and archaeologies of modern knowledge, it will be demonstrated that the process of transformation of higher education in South Africa not only provides the opportunity to tend to a grave historical injustice, but also to develop a critique of modernist educational practices of the West and thus to cultivate its own educational ethos as a more just and authentic South African alternative. Setting: South African Higher Education in the 21st century. Methods: Foucauldian–Nietzschean genealogy, in the spirit of Foucault’s own use of Nietzsche: ‘The only valid tribute to thought such as Nietzsche’s is precisely to use it, to deform it, to make it groan and protest’. Result: A re-considered and reconfigured notion of educational identity beyond the confines of modernist Western subjectivity. Conclusion: While full justice can never be done to the full horrors of the past, the process of transformation in education may provide an opportunity to not only address injustices in the past, but also to create a new African educational ethic which may contribute something truly new to the world’s educational heritage.
  • A sociological exploration of the need for safe spaces for lesbian and gay students on a South African university campus

    Tshanduko Tshilongo; Jacques Rothmann (AOSIS, 2019-11-01)
    Background: The role of safe spaces on university campuses for gay and lesbian students remains a contested issue. This is attributed to the fact that the visibility of these students on university campuses presents a duality: On the one hand, the creation of such spaces provides a sense of communal belonging, safety and visibility for these students which could contribute to de-mystifying stereotypes. On the other hand, such increased visibility may further exacerbate a backlash to those who disclose their sexual identity, which manifests in verbal and/or physical homophobia. Aim: The article reports on an explorative sociological study on the need for such safe spaces for lesbian and gay students on North-West University’s Potchefstroom campus. Setting: The focus of the research was to explore the need for safe spaces on the North-West University’s Potchefstroom campus. The aim was to investigate the perceptions of self-identified gay and lesbian students on the importance of providing such spaces. Methods: A qualitative research design, informed by the meta-theoretical principles of social constructionism, interpretivism and queer theory, was applied. Probability and snowball sampling methods were used along with 20 semi-structured interviews with 10 self-identified gay and 10 self-identified lesbian students. Thematic analysis was used to code the data. Results: Participants expressed dualistic narratives regarding their experiences on campus. Some indicated that they did not experience any discrimination whereas others recalled particular incidences of homophobia. These differences notwithstanding, participants provided particular definitions of such spaces, identified its preferred formations and reasons for being in favour of and against its implementation. Conclusion: Findings suggest that the introduction of formal policies is essential in deciding on whether safe spaces are necessary and to inform the decisions of students require this to disclose their identities.
  • Research in curriculum studies: Reflections on nomadic thought for advancing the field

    Shan Simmonds; Lesley Le Grange (AOSIS, 2019-11-01)
    Background: Key to sustainability and expansion of any field is the intellectual works of its scholars who engage in their field as in-becoming and who continually strive towards its advancement. For researchers of curriculum studies this involves being knowledgeable and conversant of the underlying discourses framing and challenging the field. Aim: In South Africa, field of curriculum studies has been critiqued for being a quick-fix solution to social problems by merely approaching the curriculum as a ‘dumping ground’ and for its over-emphasis on curriculum as a schooling matter. The intent of this article was to exemplify other, more current, challenges and accomplishments of the research constituting the field. Setting: The publications of South African National Research Foundation-rated researchers specialising in curriculum, because their scholarship is deemed central to building societal knowledge through quality and high-impact research. Methods: A meta-study was conducted to determine trends in a particular cluster of publications to identify the ways that researchers are advancing in the field of curriculum studies in South Africa. Results: Four pertinent findings were evidenced. Firstly, strong localism/nationalism of the field. Secondly, the higher education context as highly researched. Thirdly, the multidisciplinary nature of South African curriculum studies research. Fourthly, strong impetus from sociological work in the field. Conclusion: We reflect on nomadic thought as a starting point central to the pursuits of researchers in advancing the field of curriculum studies as an intellectual activity and practice of complicated conversation.
  • Exploring shame and pedagogies of discomfort in critical citizenship education

    Elmarie Costandius; Neeske Alexander (AOSIS, 2019-09-01)
    Background: Social transformation in South Africa is a sensitive issue because of the historical realities of segregation and past injustices. Aim: To address transformation, Visual Communication Design students were asked to design an exhibition, event, sculpture or garden to memorialise the forced removals that took place on the site of the current Arts and Social Sciences Building of Stellenbosch University and to thereby contribute with their own ‘voices’ to an event or exhibition. Setting: The focus of the project was to memorialise the forced removals that occurred on the place known then as Die Vlakte. The aim was to investigate the reactions of students and community members to explore how a visual communication project prepared them or failed to prepare them for dealing with social injustice. Methods: A case study research design was applied, and inductive qualitative content analysis was used in processing and organising data. The theoretical framework included critical citizenship education, social justice, pedagogy of discomfort, shame and white shame. Results: Critical citizenship education may form part of pedagogies of discomfort, and shame may be used positively as we ask students to negotiate emotionally charged subjects through visual communication. Conclusion: As the case studies have shown, students are capable of identifying sources of discomfort and growing from them to perceive a local historic event in a more sensitive and inclusive way.
  • Acknowledgement to reviewers

    Editorial Office (AOSIS, 2019-12-01)
  • Gender pronoun use in the university classroom: A post-humanist perspective

    Marcos A. Norris; Andrew Welch (AOSIS, 2020-05-01)
    Background: This article explores the political impact of using gender neutral pronouns in the university classroom. Aim: We explore how the gender neutral pronoun ‘they’ denaturalises essentialist models of gender identity. We follow ‘they’ toward a consideration of the gender neutral pronoun ‘it.’ ‘It’ advances – at the same time that it problematises – the political project of non-binary communities to denaturalise gender by challenging an anthropocentric model of equal rights. Setting: We examine the latent humanism of pronoun use through our contrasting approaches to gender pronoun use in our writing courses. Methods: First we discuss the role of genderneutral pronouns in building a more inclusive classroom environment for gender non-conforming students. We then consider our respective pedagogical approaches to pronoun use. Andrew avoids pronoun use in the classroom, addressing his students by their first names instead, while Marcos makes pronoun use and gender identity a central part of his course curriculum. We then consider the pronoun ‘it’ from a posthumanist perspective, arguing that ‘it’ might help to overcome the violent legacy of humanism by building a more inclusive classroom environment for gender-nonconforming students. Results: The analysis of ‘it’ as a gender neutral pronoun has revolutionary potential. Deconstructing our conceptions of equal rights from a posthumanist perspective can transform higher education for the better. Conclusion: The article concludes that college educators should consider discussing the significance of the pronoun ‘it.’ Given its dehumanising potential, this discussion should be presented in light of the posthumanist critique of anthropocentrism, and must affirm students’ existing identifications.

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