Depictions of diversity in the Curriculum Studies programme of the BEdHons degree within a higher education context
Blignaut, Jean Henry
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In this study I explored depictions of diversity in the Curriculum Studies programme of the BEd Hons degree course at North-West University in South Africa. South Africa was and is still is facing the challenge of inequalities such as getting access to higher education institutions that were previously dominated by a white Christian Afrikaans-speaking group. The first democratic election in South Africa in 1994 brought about structural changes in society. These structural changes included the merging of tertiary education institutions such as colleges of education, technikons and universities. In view of South Africa’s history of divisions and injustices such as patriarchy, mono-religiosity and mono-ethnicism, it therefore seemed valuable to explore how diversity is depicted in higher education institutions. In 2012 a task team was set up by the dean of the Faculty of Education Sciences at the Potchefstroom Campus of North-West University. This team investigated how diversity was expressed in selected study guides of the undergraduate BEd degree programme offered at the Potchefstroom Campus to contact mode students. This study identified the need to explore how diversity is depicted at a postgraduate degree level. The primary purpose of my research was to explore empirically the extent to which diversity nuances of gender, religion and ethnicity are depicted in the Curriculum Studies programme of the BEd Hons degree course. This involved exploring the depictions of diversity in study guides of the modules presented in the Curriculum Studies programme of the BEdHons degree course. In addition, I also looked into the depictions of diversity by lecturers presenting modules and students enrolled for the Curriculum Studies programme of the BEd Hons degree course. The study was situated in a critical theory paradigm and utilised a qualitative research design with a critical ethnographic methodology. Three sets of data generation methods were employed: document research, semi-structured one-on-one interviews and focus group interviews. The two campuses of North-West University offering this programme were purposefully selected as my research environments. I employed purposeful sampling, and study guides utilised by lecturers and students in the Curriculum Studies programme of the BEd Hons degree course formed the sample. Lecturers presenting modules and students enrolled for the Curriculum Studies programme of the BEd Hons degree course were participants. Critical discourse analysis, underpinned by Fairclough’s (1992) three-dimensional conception of discourse, was the method of analysis. The conclusions were derived predominantly from the diversity nuances acculturation and rationality. Some of the conclusions were also derived from diversity as a nuance but to a limited extent. The conclusions vary from depictions on the chosen discourse of diversity, depictions relating to curricula and the multifaceted aspect of diversity. With regard to the depictions on the chosen discourses of diversity, it was evident that some lecturer participants were only fostering the aspects gender, religion and ethnicity of certain cultural groups, which caused some groups to be invisible. Student participants’ depictions were ideologically embedded as they preferred not to engage with diversity to eliminate certain issues. Lecturer participants also tended to include disadvantaged minority/majority groups to such a limited extent that they were almost non-existent. Furthermore, it appeared that lecturer participants excluded diversity to foster inclusion. Separation was also emphasised by student participants in that they were being forced to engage with diversity rather than wanting to or having a choice to engage with diversity or not. Reflecting on the conclusions arising from my study, I put forward a theoretical stance focusing on curriculum-making for social justice.
- Education