Thursday, May 23, 2019

Melanie Skead

Melanie Skead

Melanie Skead was recently appointed as Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Stellenbosch University. Previously, she was a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning (CHERTL) at Rhodes University.  

She has been working in Higher Education since 1988 and holds a PhD in English and two professional qualifications in education including a Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education (Academic Development) from Rhodes University. Melanie has been active in academic development since 2003. 

Her experience in the field spans across student, staff and curriculum development as well as academic leadership at various higher education institutions including Vista University, Fort Hare and Nelson Mandela University and Rhodes University, where she coordinated the National and Rhodes PGDip (HE) and supervised PhD students. 

Her research interests include educational pathways for academic developers, academic agency in curriculum transformation and problematizing notions of quality in higher education. She has published academic papers in the areas of Writing Centre development, student academic development and formal learning opportunities for academic developers. 

Scholarly writing as social justice

Academics in higher education are challenged to develop sophisticated scholarly writing competence in line with common perceptions of what it means to be an ‘’academic’’. Given the history of higher education (and formal education generally) in South Africa, scores of academics working across the sector have not enjoyed equitable opportunities to enhance their scholarly writing competence as required for the world of publication and further study. One might therefore argue that the provision of such learning opportunities and spaces is a question of social justice as much as scholarly competence. Formal reward and recognition structures privilege scholarly output and further study, therefore inadvertently placing a large section of South African academics at a disadvantage if they are not able to meet these expectations. The linguistic diversity within the academic community creates an added tension with the dominance of English as the ‘’accepted’’ norm for scholarly writing. Here, one might suggest that language itself works against the pursuit of social justice widely proclaimed across the higher education sector.

Within this context, this workshop will aim to provide an engaging and participative space for academics to

  • reflect on key aspects and conventions of scholarly writing in the higher education domain
  • enrich their understanding of the requirements of such writing
  • interrogate and share examples of their own writing in order to strengthen their scholarly writing and to
  • problematise understandings of plagiarism.

Participants will be asked to read a scholarly paper before the workshop (to be distributed ahead of time), to respond to guided, reflective questions, and to bring examples of writing they are currently working on for the practical part of the workshop.

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