Concise Teaching Portfolio
Philip Uys, PhD, 2006
wish to acknowledge with gratitude the positive impact of colleagues on my
teaching and personal growth through rich interactions during collaborative
I wish to expound on the model above that illustrates my educational philosophy and goals. The life-changing potential of the combination of teacher, learner and problem (Vygotsky, 1962) for growth is still as valid in modern higher learning as it has been before. My aim in teaching is to ensure that effective learning, based on transparent values, occurs that leads to holistic growth of the learner. Values form the ultimate basis for both teaching and learning.
“You teach what you know, but you impart who you are” - Larry Tomczac
Effective learning might be continually redefined, but at present it means to me, learning-centred and flexible engagement based upon transparent values. Conveying information was my aim when starting my academic career in 1993, but a post-graduate diploma in higher learning and teaching, which I completed in 1997, impressed upon me the enormous potential of good teaching to contribute to knowledge creation and support multi-dimensional growth in the learner.
In the model above, the sides of the inner triangle signify the determinants of learning while the sides of the outer triangle represent the imperatives for teaching to create these determinants. The determinants of learning include learners’ awareness of their own values and those of others, when they engage in and take ownership for their own learning, develop multi-literacy (also called multiple literacies) and grow in confidence and competence. Multi-literacy (Brown, Lockyer & Norman, 2004) includes critical, academic, information, language, media, technological and network literacy as well as numeracy. Multi-literacy is necessary for learners to be effective in creating academic meaning in the world we now live in. Learning will blossom and competence will be fully expressed when learners exhibit high levels of confidence. I see engagement as the central determinant of learning (Simonson, Samldino, Albright& Zvacek, 2003) and therefore a key focus of teaching, leading to ownership within the right environment.
The imperatives for teaching have been derived from the determinants of effective values-based learning. These imperatives describe my teaching objectives.
my teaching, I have attempted to ensure engagement by being enthusiastic,
posing problems for the learners and employing innovative approaches through
reflective practices to address the multiple and complex needs of learners,
thereby supporting ownership of learning. Engagement leads to ownership only
when constructivist approaches (Duffy,
Lowyck & Jonassen, 1993; Piaget, 1977) empower the learners to take responsibility for, and
define areas of their own learning. In my early teaching I was in control and
determined what, when and how the teaching would occur. My approach
dramatically changed when teaching as Senior Lecturer in the Adult Education
Group of the Department of Social and Policy Studies in Education at
The significance of both learning and assessment engenders engagement by the learners. Action research (Lewin, 1946; Carr and Kemmis, 1986; Elliot, 1991; Zuber- Skerrit, 1992) is therefore a favoured research approach of mine and I used it in my doctoral work to investigate the management of both the implementation and operation of e-learning in tertiary institutions (Uys, 2000).
Multi-literacy development requires teaching based on quality instructional design which provides direction and challenges to the learner (Dick & Carey, 1996). I have always been open to feedback to guide me towards adapting my teaching to stimulate and support multi-literacy, which includes life-long learning processes. Learning needs to be managed towards shared outcomes that include higher multi-literacy levels. My experience at every institution of higher learning, both in developed and developing environments, has taught me the necessity for the teacher to recognise and manage the requirements and wider systemic influences of the institution. Growth in multi-literacy also requires a quality environment. This includes a range of educational technologies which are blended to mediate instruction consistent with good andragogy (Knowles, 1980). Educational technology is subservient to pedagogy and andragogy and its appropriate use is necessary to provide good learning.
I have discovered that competence and confidence are inseparable characteristics of effective learning across the range of learners I taught. Teachers with integrity engender trust. Creating confidence in learners requires support which includes being approachable and sensitive to their different needs, learning styles and goals. Collegiality in teaching, which is particularly possible with adult learners and fellow academic staff members, leads to confidence, acceptance and a sense of worth that assist such learners to explore and experiment. These are necessary conditions for growth and development. Scholarship (Boyer, 1990), including the scholarship of teaching, is necessary when competence in the learner is to be achieved through research-led teaching. Expertise in the particular discipline and in teaching is necessary for quality learning. Competence is also developed by means of well thought-through feedback from the teacher on assessment work, which my learners always appreciated. I hold a systemic approach to teaching. It views learning as occurring within the axis of a variety of systems such as personality traits, motivation, life goals, family, friends, colleagues, institutional and sectoral policies and global developments – life and learning cannot be separated. Competence seldom happens without the presence of challenges provided by an astute teacher who is committed to take learners beyond their current levels of learning. This can occur through a process of 'scaffolding' (Vygotsky, 1978).
Teaching is becoming increasingly collaborative as the learners contribute with the teacher to knowledge creation, and as modern instructional design and development calls for the kind of multi-disciplinary team approaches (DEC working party, 1991:34; Holmberg, 1995) that I have been fortunate to be part of for more than a decade.
My teaching career thus far has seen many opportunities for adjustment that I have been able to seize and develop. I see myself as a learner in becoming an increasingly competent teacher in interesting times of global and local interaction, technological and human interplay, the convergence of distance and on-campus learning into flexible education and the challenge between academic collegiality and managerialism (Middlehurst, 1993:189) in higher learning. A favourite quote that I try to adhere to as learner is
“In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who survive, the learned find themselves fully equipped to live in a world that no longer exists” - Peter Hoffer
I have worked mostly with academic staff and other adult learners in the areas of change management, educational technology, ICT-enabledflexible learning and educational governance. Educational governance includes leadership and management, particularly management of educational innovation and change. I have taught courses in these areas at a range of levels and in different settings internationally. I find these areas exciting as they address major international issues in both developed and developing environments namely, good and effective governance of higher education, the dynamics of educational innovation and institutional change, as well as ensuring the wide-spread and appropriate use of educational technologies for flexible learning. I have been fortunate to both teach regarding, and since 2000 implement and manage, university-wide educational technology programmes and change programmes.
If the present dynamics in higher education is a sign of times to come, learning and teaching will be playing an increasingly pivotal role in higher education and will be in constant need of re-invention (Marquard, 1996; Senge, 1990).
“When the drumbeat changes, the dance changes” - Hausa People
I have 12 years of teaching experience at tertiary education level, with nine years as senior lecturer. A full list of courses I have taught is available in my curriculum vitae. I taught as Senior Lecturer at Wellington Polytechnic, New Zealand (which became Massey University at Wellington during my tenure) for just less than seven years from April 1994 to January 2001. Initially, for two years, I taught courses within the Department of Computer Studies on the Bachelor of Business Information and the Diploma of Business Computing. Fortunately, Wellington Polytechnic had a one year induction programme for new teachers. This stimulated my thinking and met my desire to develop my own scholarship of teaching that I also signed up for the second year part-time course and thus completed the Advanced Diploma in Tertiary Teaching in December 1997.
When I discovered the potential of Web-based learning and also desired more practical application of my teaching, I started the Hypermedia in Distance Education Project (hydi) in late 1995. Fortunately this project and I, until I left Massey in December 2000, found a home and solid andragogical base in the Adult Education Group of the Department of Social and Policy Studies in Education.
I have found the innovation diffusion theory (Rogers, 1983), in providing a general explanation for the manner in which innovations disseminate through social systems, and Fullan’s views (1991) helpful in educational change and leadership. I still managed, during my four years at the University of Botswana (UB), to co-taught in courses offered by the Department of Educational Technology in the Faculty of Education. My teaching since 2000 has mainly been in change management, educational technology, academic and curriculum development. At Charles Sturt University I have taught the distance education cohort for ESC512, Information Technology and the Curriculum students of the Master of Education in the School of Teacher Education, as well as the distance education cohort for MGT572, Managing Organisational Change students of the Master of Management and the Graduate Certificate of Management in the School of Marketing and Management. My learners and peers have consistently commented on the engaging manner, positive interpersonal skills, approachability, support, pre-planning, patience, clarity and commitment by which I conduct my work.
I founded the hydi Educational New Media Centre which started in September 1995 as the Hypermedia in Distance Education (hydi) project to establish flexible and e-learning at the Wellington campus of Massey University. I explored group work in computer studies to prepare learners for a career in information technology where team work is critical. I soon discovered in my teaching that agreeing on ground rules at the start of every new semester with every group was critical to have an agreed basis for operation and accountability. The ground rules emanated from two questions we discussed, “What do you expect of me?” and, “What do you expect of each other?”
I also started using skeleton handouts for first-year learners to assist them in structuring their note-making. I have used independent learning projects in first year adult learner courses and higher levels more frequently used at. I used role-plays in the Computer Ethics course for deeper, experiential learning. In a number of courses demonstrations were required as part of the assessment regime. For this I employed peer-review to enhance the reliability of the assessment. In 1999 I started exploring blended learning using both correspondence and face-to-face teaching with online communications. In some of the Adult Education courses in 1999, I explored more constructivist and student-centred approaches in which the learners added learning outcomes to the courses and also advised on more ideal times and duration of classes.
I ran the first WebCT course at UB in 2002 with a group of local second year learners who, within 45 minutes, created a homepage and were posting messages and replies on the online discussion board. Peer teaching at UB has been satisfying for its capacity building effects and in providing intimate and direct feedback. I find using Mimio-boards, with Ms-Netmeeting to distribute the instructor’s screen to all the learners, helpful in the collaborative learning spaces we have created at UB. I used online forums. CHAT sessions and flexible online publishing approaches to support deeper engagement through interactive approaches.
I try to provide learners with authentic tasks which are grounded in their life and work environment, for which problem-based learning has been most effective. My teaching now is based on constructivist approaches, collegiality, facilitation, transformation (Apps, 1994; Henderson & Hawthorne, 1995), learning-centred instruction and with maximum flexibility for the learner, while I am always on the look-out for innovative approaches to increase the effectiveness of deep, values-based learning.
I have taught diverse groups of learners and found them different in many ways. Mediated individualised instruction (Romiszowski, 1984), however, needs to be balanced by collaborative, team work to facilitate authentic, pragmatic and life-long learning within a social framework (Jonassen (1994); Vygotsky, 1962). I respect and value diversity and draw on and manage diversity to enrich and stimulate learning experiences. Constructivism addresses individual differences well and links to the situational leadership approaches that I use in educational management, as outlined by Hersey and Blanchard (Bartol, Martin, Tein & Matthews, 1998).
“Every door has its own key” - Swahili People
Values-based learning, which combines well with value-based leadership (Smith Kuczmarski & Kuczmarski, 1995), plays a vital role in appreciating differences among learners and teachers in a learning community of practice.
I link assessment closely to learning outcomes and strive for alignment, but find it challenging to make provision for incidental and emergent learning in assessment. I use assessment not only as a verification mechanism but also to provide feedback to learners to motivate and stimulate further learning. I also use peer assessment for both formative and summative assessment, and have often required self-assessment in formative situations.
I use a range of assessment instruments including standard examinations and tests, open book assessments, assignments, project work, media product development, group assignments, practical demonstration and presentations. I have also used assessable online forum work to support collaborative assessment practices. I am concerned about the over-confidence of teachers in their ability to set perfectly valid and reliable assessments and thus using it indiscriminately as absolute measurements of learner performance instead of using it as opportunities for feedback, encouragement and challenge in a supportive way.
“If you ask the wrong question, you are going the get the wrong answer” –Gaines S. Dobbins
I prefer achievement-based assessment with grade related criteria which in conjunction with moderation, assists in supporting the validity and reliability of assessment instruments. Most of the learners have over the years commented on the clarity of expectation and the respectful, motivational, constructive, prompt, additional, enduring, challenging and quality of feedback provided both in formative and summative assessment.
The Johari window (Luft, 1969) emphasise the importance of getting external feedback. I obtain such feedback from learners and peers through formal evaluation, reflection on end of course reports, noting interesting aspects in my diary, reading about learning and teaching and interacting widely with colleagues. Information received confirms, enlightens, challenges and directs my thinking and practices to new explorations within ethical frameworks which, I believe, always open up pathways for deeper learning and experience. Peers and post-graduate learners in particular have commented on my approachability, openness to receive critique and commitment to ever further and deeper growth personally and collaboratively.
“The important thing is to not stop questioning" - Albert Einstein
My commitment to teaching is based on the conviction that effective learning brings deeper growth to both learner and teacher and therefore has meaning beyond institutional frameworks.
“Education is not filling a pail, but lighting a fire” – Yeats
I have assisted prospective PhD researchers in exploring additional options and possibilities; master’s students in improving their theses; colleagues on upgrading papers for publication and presentation; and learners in matters beyond formal teaching that impact on their learning. I have been invited to conduct workshops, deliver key note addresses and make presentations internationally on ICT-enabledflexible learning and educational innovation. Over the past four years I have been involved as curriculum development leader in three projects in e-learning, educational governance, during which I used Print’s cyclical model (1993), and research practice and before that, have been part of curriculum development and evaluation teams on certificate, diploma and degree level programmes. Both personal and institutional significance determines to a large extent my own contribution and commitment to team-work.
I have done my post-graduate studies part-time. I have participated in many international conferences and workshops on higher education, have been a member of various professional associations; have served on international programme committees and editorial boards; is the founding chair of the Society and Network for Technology in Education through Collaboration (SANTEC); and led a small research team in e-learning for development at UB. Peers have commented on my enthusiasm, energy and dedication to my work.
Striving for achieving balance among many models and possibilities is a key concern for me as I respect not only the explorer but also the body of knowledge on learning and teaching that have accumulated over centuries, much of which have been tried and tested.
“The fool would say: ‘This world is a virgin girl.’ The wise man knows the world is old” - Hausa People
Over the past decade growth has often come to me through both challenges and opportunities, not least in the areas of teaching and learning in higher education. Peers and learners would often comment on the positives and be silent on one’s areas of growth. I would like to learn more about bringing all the determinants of effective values-based learning to bear for the holistic growth of academic staff, and for the continual reform of higher learning towards higher levels of scholarship in teaching and learning.
“He who dares to teach must never cease to learn” -John Dana (1856-1929)
Full details of my teaching are available in my curriculum vitae.
“All is never said” - Ibo People
Apps, J.W. (1994). Leadership for the emerging age - Transforming practice in adult and continuing education. San Francisco: Josey-Bass.
Bartol, K., Martin, D., Tein, M. & Matthews, G. (1998). Management – A Pacific Rim Focus. 2nd edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Boyer, E.L. (1990). Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. Princeton, N.J.: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Brown, I., Lockyer, L. & Norman, A. (2004). Position vacant: new learner skills required – multi-literate. Paper presented at the ED-MEDIA 2004 Conference, Lugano, Switzerland, 21-26 June 2004, 3530 – 3534.
Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-41.
Carr, W. & Kemmis, S. (1986). Becoming critical: education, knowledge and action research. Falmer: Lewes.
DEC Working Party (1991). Distance education discussion and direction papers. Monash University College Gippsland: Churchill. In Evans, T. & Nation, D. (1993). Reforming open and distance education. Critical reflections. London: Kogan Page.
Dick, W, & Carey, L. (1996). The systematic design of instruction. New York: Harper Collins.
Duffy,T., Lowyck, J. & Jonassen, D. (Eds.) (1993). Designing environments for constructive learning. New York: Springer-Verlag
Elliot, J. (1991). Action research for educational change. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
Fullan, M.G. (1991). The new meaning of educational change. 2nd edition. London: Cassel Education Ltd.
Henderson, J. G. & Hawthorne, R.D (1995). Transformative curriculum leadership. New Jersey: Henderson.
Holmberg, B. (1995). Theory and practice of distance education. 2nd edition. London &, New York: Routledge.
Jonassen, D. (1994). Thinking Technology: Towards a Constructivist Design Model. Educational Technology, (April, 1994), 34-37.
Knowles, M. (1980). The modern Practice of Adult education: From Pedagogy to Andragogy. US: Cambridge.
Laurillard, D. (1993). Balancing the Media. Journal of Educational Television, 19(2), 81-93.
K. (1946). Action research and minority problems. Journal of Social Issues
24:34-46. Reprinted in
(1969). Of Human Interaction.
(1997). Social Constructivism and the World
Wide Web - A Paradigm for Learning. Paper presented at the Ascilite ’97
(1996). Building the learning organization – a systems approach to quantum
improvement and global success.
Michael R. (1992). Old Wine in New Bottles: A Problem with Constructivist
Middlehurst, R. (1993). Leading academics. Buckingham: Open University Press.
(1977). The Development of Thought: Equilibration of Cognitive Structures.
Rogers, E. (1983). Diffusion of Innovations. 3rd edition.
A.J. (1984). Producing Instructional Systems.
P.M. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning
M., Samldino, S., Albright, M. & Zvacek, S. (2003). Teaching and Learning at a distance. Foundations of
distance education. 2nd edition.
Kuczmarski , S. & Kuczmarski, T.D. (1995). Value-Based Leadership.
Uys, P.M. (2000, December). Towards the Virtual Class: Key Management Issues in Tertiary Education. Unpublished PhD thesis, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
L.S (1962). Thought and language.
Vygotsky, L. S.
(1978). In M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, &
O. (1992). Action research in higher education.