A subject advisor in the Foundation Phase (Grade R to Grade 3) in the Department of Education, Dr Hlengiwe Makhanya, who graduated with a PhD degree, presented her thesis in a creative arts-based mode using collage and drawing.
Makhanya’s research was a self-study project conducted to explore her practise and learning as a subject advisor in continuous professional teacher development (CPTD) as well as her understanding of how she could apply her new knowledge to better support teachers.
Submitted in a creative arts-based mode, the study offers an innovative approach and understanding of meaningful continuing professional development from a subject advisor’s perspective.
Her PhD in Education was supervised by Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan and Dr Lungile Masinga.
‘Throughout my self-study journey, I learned from a socio-cultural theoretical perspective and social constructivism,’ said Makhanya. ‘A socio-cultural perspective assisted me in understanding teachers’ and subject advisors’ learning backgrounds. In understanding social constructivism, I discovered that teachers and subject advisors learn better if they interact as they construct knowledge together.’
She said self-study required that she examine her own practise and reconstruct her thinking about how she conducted CPTD. She gained confidence and valuable insights into her practise as she came to understand more about teachers’ and subject advisors’ experiences of CPTD.
Makhanya says her research demonstrates the power of ‘self-study to facilitate a process of learning, whereby improvement in practise can be achieved as we discern context-appropriate ways of bringing about changes in offering CPTD in challenging circumstances. We can start to value teachers’ contributions in planning and facilitating CPTD programmes that are more inclusive and participatory, and that address teachers’ genuine concerns.’
Her advice to other researchers is: ‘Persevere, take one step at a time and be focused.’