This year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Awards in Teaching and Learning acknowledged lecturers who have achieved exceptional teaching standards at the University of Fort Hare.
With research traditionally elevated above teaching at tertiary institutions, Fort Hare, through these awards, recognises the outstanding contribution made by those in preparing students for life beyond the lecture hall.
The awards, in the categories of Developing Teacher, Experienced Teacher and e-Learning Excellence, were presented at the East London International Convention Centre on Thursday.
According to UFH Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC) director, professor Vuyisile Nkonki, nominees were required to meet certain criteria.
They were asked to articulate their teaching practices through a portfolio of evidence, demonstrate practices that are impactful and embrace methodologies that live up to international standards.
“They were also required to show innovativeness in their teaching, educate in a way that is informed by scholarship and provide evidence that research is an important part of their approach,” the TLC director explained.
Peer reviews in the form of observation reports and student evaluation, among other requirements, were other boxes nominees needed to tick.
The Developing Teacher category was won by Noluthando Mbangeleli, a lecturer in the business management department that resorts under the faculty of management and commerce.
She was recognised as an educator who stood out for her commitment to student development and employing an engaging teaching style that both challenged and inspired her students.
Mbangeleli, a student herself, is registered for a PhD in leadership at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
The Experienced Teacher award was shared by three people: Kim Schmidt, who has worked in the Department of Social Work and Social Development since 2011; Arthur van Coller, an associate professor in the faculty of law; and Gail Young, a lecturer of 10 years in the faculty of management and commerce.
Schmidt said while she was involved in many projects, teaching undergraduate social work students was closest to her heart.
“It is the area where I most enjoy striving to improve my teaching so that students are empowered to become the best social workers they can be.”
She was recently involved in the planning of an early childhood development seminar at Fort Hare in support of establishing community and research partnerships in this field.
Fellow recipient Van Coller also lectures for the Pretoria regional delegation of the international committee of the Red Cross and the Law Society of South Africa. His main research interests are international humanitarian law, children’s rights and tax law.
Young, meanwhile, is passionate about community engagement and has spearheaded numerous such activities. A recent endeavour was the provision of weekly support to accounting students living in a children’s home.
The e-Learning Excellence category also featured a trifecta of winners, with human movement science lecturer Xonné Muller, accounting lecturer Wendy Terblanche and business management senior lecturer Ellen Rungani sharing the spoils.
Rungani said her role was to educate, inspire and support students to use innovation and entrepreneurship in solving community challenges.