Above from left: Professor Shenuka Singh, Dr Msizi Mkhize, Professor Ruth Hoskins, Professor Fayth Ruffin, Dr Miranda Young-Jahangeer, Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan.

Teaching Excellence Awards 2018

In recognition of teaching excellence, the Teaching & Learning Office rewards academics that demonstrate exceptionality in their disciplinary fields and produce educational impact beyond the classroom.

In 2018, for the first time in the recent history of the award, seven academics were recognised. Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, Professor Fayth Ruffin, Dr Msizi Mkhize and Dr Mvuselelo Ngcoya received the coveted Distinguished Teachers’ Award (DTA) at the annual University of KwaZulu-Natal Graduation ceremonies. Professor Ruth Hoskins, Professor Shenuka Singh and Dr Miranda Young-Jahangeer received Certificates of Excellence. The awardees were then celebrated at the 2019 DTA award dinner.

Distinguished Teachers’ Awards (DTA)

Professor Pithouse-Morgan is an associate professor in the School of Education in the College of Humanities. The committee was happy with her strong rationale informed by the challenging context of her student teachers. According to the committee, what stood out for Pithouse-Morgan is her ability to use a variety of student-centred teaching & learning methods that helped students construct their own knowledge. She also had a good supervision record, using the cohort model of supervision. She mentors novice supervisors and co-supervises and co-authors with them. She also encourages students to present their work at conferences.

Dr Msizi Mkhize is a lecturer in the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance in the College of Law and Management Studies. The committee unanimously agreed to bestow the award on Mkhize, based on his outstanding portfolio. This provides a compelling rationale informed by his knowledge of students’ contexts supported by his deep knowledge of the mathematics discipline. He also displays excellent community engagement and creative teaching methods in presenting Mathematics as an interesting subject to students. He has developed multiple learning resources and engages with communities about teaching high school learners Mathematics. He also engages in peer mentoring, has a good supervision record and is readily available to students being supervised, using research coaching to help students in their research journey. He uses creative formative and summative methods such as crossword puzzles, tests and essays. He is a reflective practitioner who has made changes in both teaching and assessment based on students’ assessment outcomes. The committee found the use of mathematical concepts to teach Accounting to be the most novel aspect of his submission.

Dr Mvuselelo Ngcoya is a senior lecturer in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies in the College of Humanities. The committee found him worthy of the award because of his excellent teaching and its impact on students. Ngcoya presents a great case for a decolonised curriculum, using non-traditional methods but clearly explaining the need for assessing in the traditional sense. He is aware of his shortcomings and his student evaluations show him to be reflective, and accommodating of critique. Both formal and informal peer evaluations affirm the value of his engagement with students and peers. He developed a new module in Participatory Video, which merges theory with practice and actively involves students with the community.

Professor Fayth Ruffin is a professor in the School of Management, IT and Governance in the College of Law and Management Studies. According to the committee, Ruffin’s teaching portfolio presented an excellent approach that was contextualised with reference to different, alternative epistemologies that went beyond the traditional Eurocentric pedagogies. She is passionate about her work, committed to a liberating andragogy and empowers student to think independently and pursue excellence. She was found worthy of a DTA award for exceptional teaching philosophy, new innovative ways of teaching and assessment approaches, and work on the development of IKS in the area in decolonisation.

Certificates of Excellence in Teaching (CET)

For the first time at UKZN, Certificates of Excellence in Teaching were awarded to Professor Ruth Hoskins, Professor Shenuka Singh and Dr Miranda Young-Jahangeer. The certificate award is similar to the HELTSA commendation awards given at the national level.

Professor Ruth Hoskins is a professor in the School of Social Sciences in the College of Humanities. She was found worthy of the award for various reasons, such as the application of educational philosophy in her teaching practice. Her teaching is contextualised to the South Africa education system and linked within the UKZN Language Policy. She uses social constructivism, which acknowledges each learner as unique. Her teaching methods offered a number of instructional activities, appropriate to students’ needs, such as video conferencing and a block system for rural students, seminars, case studies and group discussions. Her teaching methods are coherent in the modules and have clear learning outcomes. The use of different assessment methods (both formative and summative) is aligned to learning outcomes promoting student engagement. Hoskins is a successful supervisor who has graduated 16 PhDs and one master’s student since her previous promotion. She provides leadership for academic monitoring and support programme and is extensively involved in curriculum design, reviews and development.

Professor Shenuka Singh is an associate professor in the School of Health Sciences in the College of Health Sciences. The DTA committee were convinced by her excellent self-critique and reflection on her teaching & learning practice. Singh’s teaching rationale and approach are clearly underpinned by the theory of constructivism, which talks to the realities of the South African context. She uses various innovative methods of teaching & learning, adopting interactive approaches, student-centeredness and case-based, group and problem-based learning. She also uses online discussions via Moodle and visual learning / Zoom Technology. There is evidence of bilingual instruction in her work and she is committed to the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SOTL).

Dr Miranda Young-Jahangeer is a lecturer in the School of Arts in the College of Humanities. She submitted a strong rationale and convincing justification with relevant literature for teaching and supervision practice. The impact of her innovative teaching and assessment methods for both undergraduate and postgraduate levels are evident in her student and peer evaluations. She provides multiple ways in which her teaching strategies are beneficial to the students. Her teaching practice is clearly informed by research, changes, and debates in the discipline, taking into account the South African higher education context. She provides extensive examples of work across disciplines and within the community, mentoring community initiatives and community theatre projects.

Distinguished Students’ Award 2018

The University of KwaZulu-Natal Distinguished Students’ Award recognises and rewards academic excellence and outstanding community engagement or University service. The award covers postgraduate students and their community engagement or University projects. Students are nominated by the University’s staff and students.

The award gives concrete expression to the values implicit in African scholarship that underpin our University. Two awards are made to the most talented, caring and exceptional graduates and young leaders from final year undergraduate or honours level, who have been judged as being most exemplary in embodying the ideals and attributes that the University seeks to create in every graduate.

The two recipients of the Distinguished Students’ Award for 2017 were Dr Lisha Jeena and Ms Zanemvula Duma. The distinguished students were recognised for their achievements at the 2018 Annual Scholarship Awards Ceremony.

Dr Lisha Jeena

Dr Lisha Jeena is an alumnus in the School of Clinical Medicine in the College of Health Sciences. Having completed her MBChB (class of 2017), Dr Jeena maintained academic excellence throughout her six years of study, achieving a Dean’s Commendation in every semester. Additionally, she achieved Certificates of Merit in five of six final-year subjects. She graduated cum laude and was awarded several subject prizes.

As a Research Placement at CAPRISA, Jeena published two papers during her studies. She is first author of a paper entitled “Tuberculosis treatment outcomes among peri-urban children receiving doorstep tuberculosis care”, published in the International Journal of TB and Lung Disease. She also co-authored a paper entitled “Cytomegalovirus retinitis and HIV: case reviews from KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa”, which was published in the South African Medical Journal.

While it may be easy to become disheartened in a world filled with gross inequality and poverty, Jeena replaced her frustration with action, founding the UKZN branch of Friends of Médecins Sans Frontières (FoMSF or Doctors Without Borders). Through this, she pioneered various awareness campaigns, fundraising events and community-conscious projects. Of note are the health day events at which community members are screened for hypertension, diabetes, tuberculosis, HIV and general hygiene. It all started with the simple idea of using the skills being obtained in medical school to help people. This has now grown into a series of health screening events throughout the year at which hundreds of people across KwaZulu-Natal are assisted.

The 24-year-old doctor has excelled in numerous leadership positions. She was Chairperson of the UKZN FoMSF and subsequently elected onto the National FoMSF Executive Committee. She was President of the UKZN debating union and led the largest delegation of debaters to the national debating tournament that year. Furthermore, she was on the Sixth-Year Class Events Committee, a Peer Wellness Mentor, and Vice-Chairperson of the Hindu Students Association on campus.

Ms Zanemvula Duma

Ms Zanemvula Duma is an honours graduate from the School of Education in the College of Humanities and the first student from the School to receive the award. Duma attended Umzinto Secondary School where she excelled in both academic and leadership roles. She also sang gospel music, competing at provincial competitions. During this time her social anxieties were at their peak and were overcome through engagement in community and university services.

The scholarship will give Duma financial freedom and enable her to give back to her community and the University by donating part of the award to the organisation of her choice.

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