From fixing to possibility: changing a learning model for undergraduate students

Journal Article


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title

South African Journal of Higher Education

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

Unisa Press


University of Cape Town

This article engages with the work of an equity initiative, the Academic Development (AD) programme in the Education Development Unit (Commerce) at the University of Cape Town. The programme focuses on providing access, improving graduation rates and creating a 'value-added' experience, rather than a deficit model approach. The article concentrates on understanding how and why the model has evolved over time with an increasing awareness that the notion of 'disadvantage' needs a more critical engagement and stereotype threat is real issue in any separate programme. The challenge is to draw on students as a resource in the teaching and learning process and develop a way of working collectively and reflectively to help shift both teaching practices and students' level of engagement and reflection. This necessitates shifting away from the notion of a 'one size fits all' approach and moving away from 'preparing' the students to a joint undertaking of transforming both the teaching and learning environment, addressing the great diversity of strengths and challenges that the students bring to higher education. The article is a qualitative exploration of the key issues that guide this work, as well as outlining what this focus means in practice.