CGHE Seminar 67

The potential of disciplinary (curriculum) knowledge for identity formation

  • Reneé Smit, University of Cape Town

There is an oft-repeated conviction that higher education has the potential to act as engine for social mobility, opening up opportunities for a diverse student body for valuable, meaningful employment and thereby addressing societal inequalities.

Educating for the professions is an important aspect of this broader task of higher education. However, there is much we do not yet understand about the process of developing students from school-leavers to fledgling professionals.

The paper gives insight into a longitudinal study (in part funded by CGHE) that attempts to gain an understanding of the way students develop identities as neophyte discipline specialists.

Dr Smit’s particular interest is an argument that this shaping of identity is, at least in part, the result of students’ interaction with discipline-specific knowledge as they negotiate their way through the curriculum.

The study is at an early stage, and the paper will report on some preliminary findings, and provide a conceptual framework for thinking about the nature of professional knowledge, and its potential influence on identity-formation.

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Reneé Smit

Reneé Smit

Reneé Smit is a senior lecturer in the department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Cape Town (UCT), where she works as academic development lecturer. Her day-to-day work focuses on improving throughput of engineering students, which involves an emphasis on the engineering curriculum, attention to teaching and learning, and the student experience. She holds a PhD in engineering education from UCT, where she is an active contributor to the Centre of Research in Engineering Education (CREE). Her current research interests centre on the intersection between the philosophy of engineering and technology, professional knowledge and education for the professions.

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