An evaluation of a centre for teaching and learning (CTL) as an intervention in higher education : a University of Durban Westville experience.
The purpose of my research was to develop an understanding of the roles of a Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) within higher education institutions, nationally and internationally. Also of significant interest was the role that the CTL played within the University of Durban Westville, particularly in its transformation from Resource Centre to a Centre for Teaching and Learning and how it was perceived by academic staff. I reviewed national and international literature on CTLs, how they were established, its structure, staffing, what it offered and how it functioned as a body within the institute. Most recent literature focused on international universities. It was clearly evident that CTLs in first world countries like the United States and the United Kingdom were well established. These CTLs are fully engaged within their institutions. This however was not the case in many of the South African institutions. CTLs are a fairly new concept nationally and in most cases, like that of the University of Durban Westville, the centres are not wholly integrated into the structure of the institute. In the case of the University of Durban Westville, the Faculty of Education attempted to transform its long existing Resource Centre into a CTL, somewhat unsuccessfully compared to the standards set abroad. The data for my study was gathered mainly from questionnaires that were sent to 300 academic staff at the University of Durban Westville. Additional data was collected via interviews with staff at the existing CTL and correspondence with other national institutes that housed a CTL. Analysis of the data revealed that the CTL was not properly launched and marketed within the university. Staff that worked at the CTL felt that the introduction of the CTL demanded new roles they were not equipped to handle. The staff felt that they needed training to fulfill the necessary duties demanded by a centre of that nature. Academics within the university, in most cases were unaware of its existence, what it offered or how it could be beneficial to their teaching. Data received from the questionnaires highlights the needs of a CTL but also highlights the weaknesses of the CTL within UDW. The overall study demonstrated the pivotal roles that a CTL plays in enhancing academic excellence at higher education institutions. The study made clear that in order for a centre to be successful in its outcomes, its governance, structure and funding should be an integral part of the institution.