School of Education

Ronicka Mudaly

Ronicka Mudaly


Associate Professor


Science Education


Contact Number



Edgewood Campus

Office Address

Room CU119, Tutorial block

Degrees Held

  • B Paed (Science); B Ed (Hons); M Ed; D Ed, PhD


  • I served as a secondary school teacher In Life Sciences, and later was promoted to Senior Education Specialist in Science, Mathematics and Information Technology. I was appointed Biology Cluster Moderator for Phumelele district, national examiner for South African Natural Science Olympiad, Provincial Examiner for Biology/Life Sciences, and served as Member of Provincial Biology Committee. In 2008 I was appointed as a lecturer in Science Education at UKZN and was promoted to senior lecturer in 2015. I was selected as examiner for International Junior Science Olympiad competition and was appointed by National Department of Basic Education as a consultant to endorse selection of textbooks for the CAPS curriculum. The Department of Basic Education subsequently appointed me as advisor on curriculum policy document for Natural Sciences. I am a member of South African education Research Association (SAERA) and of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Technology and Science Educators (SAARMSTE). I serve as a member of the Human and Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee, in the College of Humanities, UKZN. I received several research grants and was awarded the LEAP scholarship. Several journal editors appoint me to review manuscripts and I serve on conference committees.

Research Interests

  • I view science as a human activity, which is embedded in social, cultural and political issues, and this influences my approach to science education in particular, and to education in general. I adopt humanistic approach to science education from a Freirean perspective as a way of enabling students to understand science in terms of its historical-social, cultural and political frameworks.
  • Sociocultural theories of learning, and feminist theories, influence my teaching especially at postgraduate level. I draw on theoretical resources from feminist scholars like Judith Butler, Patti Lather, Shauna Pomerantz and Elizabeth St Pierre, and this articulates with my publications. I move beyond the traditional research focus on North America, the United Kingdom and Australia, by engaging with the work of South African feminist writers like Relebohile Moletsane, Deevia Bhana and LeClerc-Madladla. This enables me to interrogate and understand thinking around issues of power, class and gender through a local, Africanized lens, and these issues are used as central constructs to design selected student activities.
  • I focus on socially just education which is emphasized by my publications and conference presentations, which explore issues of resilience, gender, HIV, environmental education and its connectedness with school science. The need to translate teaching and learning at a university into tangible, substantive action is evident in my research.

Teaching Interests

  • My awareness of the negative effects of the teaching of science as a monoculture which serves the interests of the privileged elite, informs the design of my modules. Multicultural science education, which was the focus of my Masters dissertation, is central to my teaching and assessment. I view teacher training modules as an avenue to seek resolutions to uplift the marginalized members of society. One way of accomplishing this is, for example, by designing my undergraduate modules to equip teacher trainees with skills to research and establish food gardens, based on the principles of permaculture, to address issues of nutrition and disease, especially among poor communities. Nancy Brickhouse (2000), Roth and Lee (2003), Holbrook and Rannikmae (2007), Campbell and Lubben (2000) and Aikenhead (2000) propose a socio-scientific approach to science teaching, and theoretically inform the design of my modules in science education. Students are encouraged, through module activities, to identify conditions of oppression, to engage in consciousness raising about issues of oppression, and to commit to a transformation of oppressive situations. Socio-scientific issues which can be central to the teaching of human nutrition, may include poverty and malnutrition, and ways to combat poverty and malnutrition; this humanistic approach is favoured when I design modules.
  • I focus on how teachers/lecturers can create spaces for young people/teacher trainees, to plan and conduct research activities, and to become empowered as researchers. Empowering education is essential in the South African context, where education is used as a means towards the goal of social transformation. The learning process is designed to reduce power differentials by   creating opportunities which display mutual lecturer/student authority. This facilitates the transformation from traditional to democratic approach to teaching and learning.


  • My research into socially just science education revealed that identity impacts knowledge production and consumption, and that who you are determines what knowledge you can produce. The devaluing of knowledge which belongs to particular groups of people,  and the stifling of many knowledge systems; the muting of critical thinking in order to eradicate identities of specific groups of people, and the use science education as a vehicle to accomplish this, became increasingly apparent to me. The intimate, inextricable relationship between what is considered worthwhile knowledge, and who is the legitimate producer of such knowledge, alludes to the interrelatedness between epistemology and ontology. I currently work towards a disruption of the notion that western science is the sole source of all “legitimate” knowledge, and that western scientists as the producers of such knowledge are deserving of a more fully human identity as compared to other knowledge producers. These tenets form the pillars of my supervision work, which is in the areas of resilience, gender, class, and environmental education, and its connectedness with science teacher education.
  • I have supervised several postgraduate students (M Ed and PhD) to completion. I have graduated the following M Ed students: Raeesa Ismail 205505755 (Thesis title: Preservice Teachers views about learning to teach culturally inclusive science); U Collings 9902977 (Thesis title: Exploring learners’ participation in school environmental clubs); N Xulu 200292295 (Thesis title: Exploring the use of a science resource centre by Physical Sciences teachers), A Adebayo 214581977 (Thesis title: Exploring the views of pre-service science teachers about how they learn to teach environmental education) and L Govender 205510259 (Thesis title: An exploration of Pre-service Science and Mathematics Teachers` use of Visualisation Techniques: A Case Study at a South African University).  One student (R Ismail) was awarded the M Ed degree summa cum laude. R Ismail has completed her PhD study titled Exploring how science teachers engage in curriculum innovating in environment and sustainability education.

Community Involvement/Outreach:

  • I served as a consultant for the establishment of a Centre for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Education: Allipore Primary in Merebank, Durban. I serve as an examiner of the Life Sciences National Olympiad. I serve the University Community in several ways. As a member of local organizing conference committees (eg. SAERA, Environmental and Sustainability Action Conference), I work with abstract and conference paper reviews, among other things. I review manuscripts for journals and serve as a member of the Human Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee. I review postgraduate proposal presentations, write co-ordinating reports for proposals and postgraduate examinations, and serve as a member on the Edgewood Environmental Forum.


Journal Articles:

  • Singh, S., Mabaso, B., Mudaly, R. and Singh-Pillay, A. (2016) “Policy for Prevention of Sexual Assault on Campus: Higher Education Students’ Perspectives” in Alternation, 23(1) : 113-134.
  • Govender, N., Mudaly, R. & James, A. (2016) “Engaging Indigenous Knowledge Holders in Teaching Pre-service Teachers in IKS Food Production and Practices: Implications for Higher Education” in Alternation 23(1): 180-207.
  • Mudaly, R. and Ismail, R. (2016) “Professional development in environment and sustainability education: Voices, practices and reflections of science teachers” in Southern African Journal of Environmental Education, 32., pp.66-86.
  • Ismail, R. and Mudaly, R. (2016) “Navigating beyond the boundaries of routine practice: Tracking science teachers’ movement into the Zone of Feasible Innovation through professional development” in PONTE International Scientific Researches Journal, 72 (8): 115-129.
  • Mudaly, R. (2016) “Doing youthful masculinities in an era of HIV/AIDS” in PONTE International Scientific Researches Journal, 72 (6): 228-256.
  • Mudaly, R. & Van Wyk, J. (2015) “Pink Collar Medicine”: Medical students navigating the gendered landscape of a South African medical school” in South African Journal of Higher Education, 29 (4): 229-243.
  • Mudaly, R. (2015). Creating my academic self and space: Autoethnographic reflections on transcending barriers in higher education in Journal of Education, 62: 35-57.
  • Singh, S., Mudaly, R. and Singh-Pillay, A. (2015). The what, who and where of female students’ fear of sexual assault on a South African University campus in Agenda, 29(3): 97-105.
  • Mudaly, R.; van Laren, L.; Mitchell, C.; Pithouse-Morgan, K. and Singh, S. (2015) Connecting with pre-service teachers’ perspectives on the use of digital technologies and social media to teach socially relevant science in Perspectives in Education, 33(4): 23-41.
  • Pithouse-Morgan, K., Van Laren, L., Mudaly, R., Mitchell, C. and Singh, S. (2015) Digital animation for ‘going public’ on curriculum integration of HIV & AIDS in higher education. South African Journal of Higher Education, 29(2): 237-259.

Chapters in Books:

  • Mudaly, R. (2013). ‘HIV/AIDS and sexuality education in the Life Sciences classroom: Life Sciences teachers as conscious practitioners’. In D. A. Francis (ed.): Sexuality, Society and Pedagogy. Bloemfontein, South Africa: SUN MeDIA.  ISBN: 978-1-920382-43-8, pp.87-96.
  • Alant, B., Brookes, D. W., Mudaly, R., Ndimande, S., Shongwa, N. and Ziervogerl, A. (2000). Science for our world: Grade 8 learners book. Cape Town: Nasou via Afrika.
  • Alant, B., Brookes, D. W., Mudaly, R. (2000). Science for our world: Grade 8 educators guide. Cape Town: Nasou via Afrika.
  • Brookes, D. W., Ziervogel, A., Mudaly, R., Ndimande, S. and Alant, B. (2001). Science for our world: Grade 9 learners book. Cape Town: Nasou via Afrika.
  • Brookes, D. W., Ziervogel, A., Mudaly, R., Ndimande, S. and Alant, B.  (2001). Science for our world: Grade 9 educators guide. Cape Town: Nasou via Afrika.

Complete Research Record:

  • Mudaly, R and Ismail, R. (2013) “Teacher learning through tapping into indigenous knowledge systems in the science classroom” in Alternation 20(1) 178-202.
  • Govender, N., Mudaly, R. and James, A. (2013) “Indigenous knowledge of custodians of Zulu Culture- Implications for Multilogical Dialogue in the Academy” in Alternation 20(1): 154-177.
  • Van Laren, L., Mudaly, R., Pithouse-Morgan, K., & Singh, S (2013) “Starting with ourselves in deepening our understanding of generativity in participatory educational research” in South African Journal of Education 33 (4), pp. 1-16.
  • Mudaly, R. (2013) “The power of love: Young South Africans re-conceptualizing love and sexual relationships” in Agenda 27 (2): 38-46.
  • Mudaly, R. (2012)  “Shattering and reassembling hypersexual moments: girls
  • indulging in the pursuit of pleasure” in Sexualities Vol. 15(2): 225-242.
  • Mudaly, R. (2012) “Gazing Inward: Teaching in the Postgraduate Milieu” in Alternation, 19(2): 38-56.
  • Van Laren, L., Mitchell, C., Mudaly, R., Pithouse-Morgan, K., and Singh, S. (2012)  “Exploring University Educators’ Lived Experiences of Curriculum Innovating through Integrating HIV & AIDS” in Alternation, 19(2): 138-161.
  • Van Laren, L. and Mudaly, R. (2012) “Navigating the postgraduate terrain through a community of practice: Reflections of novice academics” in South African Journal of Higher Education, 26(5): 1080-1094.
  • Mudaly, R.  (2011) “Risking It: Entering Uneven Socio-scientific Spaces in a Life Sciences Classroom” in African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (special issue), 15(3): 27-40
  • Mudaly, R. (2011) “Dangerous alliance: Constructing marriage on the fault line of gender” in Agenda 87/25.1: 81-89.
  • Mudaly, R. (2009) “Theorising researcher self-effacement and youth deep insiders in the context of HIV and AIDS” in Journal of Education, 46: 159-182
  • Mudaly, R. & Sookrajh, R. (2008) “Young HIV/AIDS researchers taking the gender shots: calling the shots through photovoice” in Agenda. 1.1 (75): 105-118.