Crossing Borders in Biotechnology Tertiary Education in Southern Africa

By Jean Mollett, Ann Cameron and Chrissie Rey.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The research problem identified through a participatory and collaborative process of biotechnology curriculum development in two SADC institutions was based on the understanding that science curricula need to take cognizance of ‘worldview’ and the impact this may have in the context of teaching and learning. Worldview refers to the understanding that each of us has presuppositions about what the world is like. In the context of southern Africa, the term “epistemological access” has been coined to describe the barriers to success that are linked to worldview. Studies conducted in South Africa and other parts of the world have identified that worldview differences can lead to barriers to learning in science, which itself presents a particular way of understanding the world. In the light of these studies the purpose of this research study is to investigate the potential barriers to learning in two southern African universities in the context of the biotechnology curriculum. The research study has focused on how African epistemologies should be taken into consideration to facilitate capacity development in biotechnology at the tertiary level. The research aim is to facilitate the development of a culturally sensitive, generic biotechnology curriculum which reaches across both literal and cultural borders and is relevant to these countries. The new curriculum would then represent an ‘African curriculum’, which recognizes the inherent cross-cultural experience between the learners’ life-world and biotechnology.

Keywords: Epistemological Access, Cross-border Teaching and Learning, Cultural Border Crossing, Biotechnology, Worldview, Multicultural Universities

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp.37-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 783.854KB).

Mrs. Jean Mollett

Principal Tutor, School of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

MSc Stellenbosch University (1989) in Genetics and Plant Breeding; Lecturer and Principal Tutor, Wits University (1995–present), teaching topics involving general genetics, cytogenetics, genetic engineering, breeding and biotechnology at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. Supervision of Higher degrees both Honours and Masters students, mostly involving plant genetics and plant tissue culture for genetic manipulation. Changed to qualitative research in Teaching and Learning for PhD study so as to provide insights and make contributions for improving teaching and learning practice at our institution.

Dr. Ann Cameron

Science Academic Advisor, Science Teaching and Learning Centre, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Prof. Chrissie Rey

Professor, School of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa


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