An enquiry into pedagogy and syllabus implementation in the Department of English at the University of Durban-Westville.
Balfour, Robert John.
MetadataShow full item record
This investigation was originally conceived of as being part of a larger study which would have been devoted to the investigation of teaching in English departments at tertiary institutions in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The research endeavour was to be based at the University of Natal, Durban, where a three-year longitudinal enquiry into the development of students' writing abilities within undergraduate courses in the Department of English was to have occurred between 1996-1998. This endeavour was conceptualised in light of the findings which arose from a study I conducted in 1995 entitled an "Enquiry into Classroom Dynamic and Teaching Methods in the Department of English at the University of Natal, Durban" (Balfour, R: M.A. thesis: 1995). I have decided, in consultation with the Department of English at UDW, to disassociate the external research investigation from the collation of research material generated at the University of Natal, Durban, during 1996. My reasons for doing this are two-fold. First, I do not believe it possible to establish a sense of the regional context of tertiary education in any manner which would be accurate or relevant to the work done at UND. This is because I have not, in the time left to me, been able to complete the other two external research phases at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg and the University of Zululand. Second, I believe that the work that has been conducted at UDW with the contributions made by many of the teachers in the Department of English is of such a nature that it merits being published as a document in its own right, and not as an appendage to either the projects initiated by me in the Department of English in 1995 at UND, or the one initiated in 1996 at the same university. It follows that the scope and nature of this work undertaken there will differ considerably from the work conducted in the Department of English at the University of Natal (Durban). This investigation is not meant to form the basis of a comparative analysis between the teaching and implementation of the Discourse Analysis Syllabus at the Department of English (UND) and the teaching conditions and implementation of the syllabus at the Department of English at UDW. The work undertaken at UND is primarily concerned with an analysis of students' writing development over a period of time I hope that this document will stand as a testimony to the dedication and concern of the teachers in the Department of English at UDW. It will also bear witness to the concern academics within the discipline have with the learners who are drawn increasingly - and for a variety of reasons - to the discipline as a means of equipping them with some of the essential skills necessary in the modern world. Teachers are not unaware of the needs of their students and this document, its findings, and most importantly its processes of critical self-reflection, provide the opportunity for staff to assess with greater clarity the challenges that they need to address in order to meet the needs of their students. The material presented here is divided into several sections. The first section is concerned with a brief introduction to the context, aims and assumptions which inform the methodology used for the collation and gathering of research material. The second section is concerned with the actual methodology, detailing the theoretical approach and how the work at UDW is situated within that approach. The third section sketches in more detail the historical context which informs pedagogy and syllabus implementation at the University of Durban-Westville. The fourth section is concerned with the implementation and development of the syllabus in the Department of English at UDW. Section five details the structural features of the curriculum. The meaning of the word 'curriculum' should not be conflated with the meaning of the term 'syllabus'. 'Curriculum' is understood, in this context, to mean all aspects of the process of syllabus implementation and teaching experience. This may include features such as timetables, classroom activities and the syllabus document itself; it may also include reference to the theoretical approaches advocated for the teaching of texts. 'Syllabus' is understood to be concerned with the (literary) theoretical approach advocated for the selection of texts and their organisation in the course itself 'Syllabus' includes the prescribed booklists, but does not include the processes by which the theoretical conceptual aims and emphases are transmitted from the syllabus document into the learning situation. Section six is concerned with the development of writing and language competencies in the English Department and details how these needs are accommodated and addressed by the staff Section seven details information concerned with modes of assessment by teachers of their students' abilities in the form of tests and essays. The last section provides a general commentary for the reader and points to various areas which need to be considered by teachers as well as the university administration and community as a whole. There are, finally, four appendices, the first of which contains the timetable of observed lessons, the second contains transcripts of interviews, the third contains lesson observations, and the fourth contains extracts from University of Durban-Westville calendars over the last decade, and the prescribed lists of books for undergraduate and postgraduate courses of English at the University.