The vision of the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED) is to be a cross-faculty unit that contributes to continual improvement in the quality of higher education through widening access, promoting excellence through equity, developing the curriculum in partnership with faculties, and enhancing the competence of graduates by ensuring the provision of key skills.

CHED’s research mission is to ensure that its educational deve-lopment work is based on rigorous and ethical research that will serve the objectives of providing equitable access to higher education, enabling social redress through higher education, and generally strengthening the quality of teaching and learning in higher education at UCT, in South Africa, and in countries with similar needs. CHED’s research arises from both institutional need and individual interest, comprising all areas connected to teaching and learning, including the basic disciplines in which some of us are based.

A further objective is to enable systemic improvement through the research-led development of policy options at national and institutional level. For this reason, a considerable proportion of the research efforts of CHED staff goes into institutional research (for example, into the impact of the introduction of anonymous marking on student performance, or the reasons why some students in good academic standing drop out of the system), and national research (for example, in response to requests from such agencies as the Department of Higher Education and Training or the Higher Education Quality Committee).

An overview of CHED’s research output points to a body of scholarship which is responsive to pressing national and institutional needs in higher education. Examples include research into the interface between schooling and higher education and issues of access, selection and placement; improving the quality of teaching and learning in discipline-specific contexts such as Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Information Systems; the role of tertiary educators in a changing higher education landscape; and the challenges and possibilities of Information and Communication Technology for teaching and learning. CHED contributes to national debate on these issues, among many, through a strong presence in South African journals (e.g. South African Journal of Higher Education, Southern Africa Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, South African Computer Journal, South African Journal of Libraries and Information Science). CHED’s contribution extends internationally as CHED staff are now consistently publishing in the leading journals in higher education (e.g. Teaching in Higher Education, Higher Education, British Education Research Journal) as well as leading journals in specialist areas (e.g. Journal of Applied Linguistics, American Journal of Physics, British Journal of Educational Technology). This illustrative sample of journals in which CHED staff publish also points to the multidisciplinary nature of CHED’s collective research output.

With respect to the achievements of 2009, consistent with UCT’s overall pattern, CHED’s level of research output has continued to increase. Highlights for the year include the publication of two special editions in leading international journals which were co-edited by CHED staff and include several papers by UCT authors. In addition to its existing five NRF-rated researchers, 2009 saw the addition of three new NRF-rated researchers. As CHED’s level of research activity and output continues to increase, we are confident that our contributions to ‘research-led’ teaching and learning processes at the University will grow apace, as well as our contributions to the growing international field of higher education studies in its broadest sense.

Associate Professor Nan Yeld
Dean of Higher Education Development


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