Research projects on my teaching

Exploring university students’ use of and understanding of AI powered technologies


The recent release of ChatGPT (GPT4) has resulted in many conversations and moral panics about the use of artificial intelligence-powered tools in teaching and learning. In particular, there is a concern that academics will need to change assessment tools, as students can easily use ChatGpt to write their assignments. The results of the proposed study will provide insights into the extent to which students currently use AI tools for their academic assignments, as well as their perceptions of the effectiveness of these tools. The study will also identify the factors that influence the use of AI tools and the strengths and limitations of these tools. However, these tools are not simply instrumental, but can also become deeply meaningful; indeed we as human beings tend to anthropomorphize such language tools. This project will therefore also provide some insights into how students might relate to these tools and how this could shift their understanding of how they conceptualise learning and teaching. We also intend to explore inequalities of data literacy and technology access. This project will be useful to potentially shape policy at South African universities. The results could shape the ways in which academics engage with teaching and assessment moving forward.

This is a 6-university project and this application is requesting ethical clearance for the Cape Peninsula University of Technology segment of the research. Each co-investigator will apply for ethical clearance at their respective universities, to access students on their campuses. The participating institutions are UCT Rhodes, Stellenbosch University, CPUT, University of Johannesburg, and Wits. The aim is to be able to make comparisons across the universities  

Digital tools for social engagement (2021 - 2023)

Project leader

Digital tools have become a way of life, and as such, have become a growing topic of study for researchers in a range of disciplines. The dominant outlook of these tools appears to be understanding them as disruptors of particular fields or an enabler in certain contexts. There does not appear to have been much research on how these tools are used to facilitate social engagement. The purpose of this transdisciplinary project is to examine ways that different fields employ digital tools for social engagement. A secondary purpose is to develop new tools or build on existing ones. Specifically, this study aims to explore how digital tools are being employed for social engagement within the higher education teaching and learning environment. The study is exploratory in nature and will employ qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis.

FuturAbilty - Digital and Transversal Skills for online Teachers (2021 -2023)

Project Administrator

FuturAbilty - Digital and Transversal Skills for online Teachers” gathers a Strategic Partnership of organisations - Universities, Research Centres and Cultural Enterprises - working with Visual Methods and Digital Learning tools willing to investigate, produce and share Open Educational Resources(OER) to make online teaching more attractive and accessible, in reference to the European Frameworks DigCompEdu and LifeComp. The main challenge is the development of pedagogies and digital tools that could enable teachers and trainers to transport the content of their lessons in participatory and engaging online forms.

The broad scope of these materials is to provide university lecturers with key digital and transversal competencies and to improve online teaching methods and tools through the effective use of innovative solutions with special attention to visual methods.

The project focuses on the development of digital and transferable competencies so that lecturers and educators become more resilient, increase their creativity and efficiency and acquire career adaptive competencies. It will enable Higher Education Institutions to offer enhanced experiences, by up-skilling and re-skilling their lecturers/educators, thus raising the quality of life of the general public. The OERs will be piloted in six Countries, Particular attention will be given to the promotion of gender equality.

The project will consolidate the results through the establishment of a Community of Practice.

COVID19 and learner-centred teaching: How the adoption of emergency blended learning pedagogies accelerated a change in teaching practice in higher education (Completed)

This is a study I am doing with a colleague from my department. I am the corresponding author

This study takes a reflexive and narrative approach, employing auto-ethnographic methods, to exploring the perspectives of academics and students at a historically disadvantage university in South Africa. In the past universities in this context have been slow in adopting online pedagogies due to issues around access to the necessary technologies. However, with social distancing being enforced as a measure until a vaccine for the virus is available, these interventions have become mandatory if universities are to salvage the academic programme. Drawing on the thinking of Weimer, and a constructivism theoretical framework, this study explores the ways in which these emergency interventions have fostered learner-centred teaching as an exercise in changing teaching practice.

The influence of emergency remote teaching and learning on multilingual pedagogies in higher education: a comparative multi-case study on multilingualism and the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic (Completed)

This is a solo-project

This study aims to explore how the covid-19 pandemic influenced multilingual teaching and learning in selected courses in higher education. The study will employ purposive snowball sampling to consider data from courses across various disciplines and higher education institutions in South Africa, that were successfully employing multilingual pedagogies prior to the 2020 National Lockdown, to ascertain how the move to emergency remote learning, and other changes in teaching and learning as a result of the pandemic, influenced how multilingualism was used. The study will explore the perceptions of lecturers and students in this respect.