CAT COLLEGE Learning and Teaching

1. Background

AT COLLEGE was founded in 2008 as a technical institute dedicated to providing professional and vocational education to the local community. From these modest beginnings we have grown to be the largest dual-sector (higher education and vocational educational and training) provider in South Africa, Throughout our 3-year history, our aims have remained essentially the same: to ‘create and disseminate knowledge to meet the needs of industry and the community and foster in students the skills and passion to contribute to and engage with the world’1 CAT’s Learning and Teaching Policy celebrates this heritage and re-affirms the College’s commitment to its fundamental mission.

2. Scope

CAT’s Learning and Teaching policy is a companion paper to the Academic that was passed by Council in December, 2009. The Academic Plan contains action plans in relation to:

Research and Learning and Teaching
Professional Learning and development
The ‘Dual Sector Advantage’
Learning and Teaching

For its part, the Learning and Teaching policy excerpts from this list of initiatives those that relate specifically to learning and teaching activities. The Learning and Teaching policy also provides some of the philosophical and pedagogical underpinnings of learning and teaching at CAT that were not contained within the Academic Plan. At the core of the Academic Plan and the Learning and Teaching policy are four defining objectives: to produce work-ready graduates with a hunger for life-long learning, to ensure student satisfaction, to provide a ‘international standards’ for graduates, and to maximise the College’s existing dual-sector advantage. In explicating this set of objectives, and how we can best achieve them, the Learning and Teaching policy acts as both a reference for our students and an operational blueprint for the College. It aims to provide a framework for building on our existing strengths while remaining highly responsive to the requirements of our students, the economy and the world of work into which our students will graduate.

2. Our Approach to Learning and Teaching

CAT’s vision for learning and teaching is built on an understanding that learning is an active, participatory process. Our approach to education is also characterised by a commitment to flexible study pathways which maximise choice across and within the Higher Education (HE) and Further education (FE) sectors and between study and work, the provision of work-integrated and work-relevant education that produces graduates who are capable of working and contributing to communities internationally. Curricula at CAT are designed to enable graduates to develop the ability to deal effectively with novel situations in a changing work and social world. Programs at CAT include:

An explicit capability (HE) or competency (FE) approach where learning of discipline-, profession- or industry-specific knowledge, abilities and skills is structured throughout the whole program and opportunities to integrate this learning in work- or community-relevant learning activities is provided; and,

The alignment of learning outcomes with supportive learning activities, formative and summative assessment that is criterion referenced and valid (i.e. genuinely measures what it purports to measure).

Pedagogy at CAT is characterised by a learning centred approach which recognises that the ultimate test of the effectiveness of learning and teaching is whether it has helped students to learn. Pedagogy at CAT is also founded upon recognition and respect for student diversity so that learning opportunities cater for all, including those who may be disadvantaged. More specifically, we recognise that:

Students enter CAT with a wealth of experience and understanding and that our learning and teaching builds upon this.

Learning and teaching is always a multilayered experience between teacher and students, students and students, students and teacher where all parties learn.

Difference, whether cultural, social, in age or gender is a positive attribute of our learning environments and a resource that supports cultural and social awareness.

Intellectual freedom is nurtured when multiple perspectives are engaged and debate is encouraged

CAT expects teaching staff at all levels to:

• have a commitment to share their field of expertise and its relevance to professional practice or industry roles.
• improve practice as a teacher through continuing professional learning and development and critical self reflection.
• use a variety of teaching and assessment strategies, carefully chosen to facilitate intended learning outcomes including
appropriate educational technologies. • actively involve students in learning through methods such as problem- or project-based learning, case studies, role-play,
discussion and debate. Provide formative feedback to students on their learning during each course.
• Listen to students, learn from them and use their feedback to make learning more effective.
• Engage in the scholarship of learning and teaching.

CAT expects students at all levels to:

• contribute to their own learning through academic engagement in all learning activities including reading and reflection
• engage in individual and group assessment tasks
• conform to academic policies governing learning and teaching


In summary, CAT graduates will be:
• work-ready
• active learners
• life-long learners
• global in outlook and competence
• culturally and socially aware
• innovative

• environmentally aware and responsible

Moving forward.

Beginning in 2009 CAT will: • develop a mandatory teaching qualification for all new level A and B academic staff who do not have an equivalent teaching qualification. New staff at Level C and above, and existing staff, will be encouraged to participate in the current qualification offered.
• conduct a module of the mandatory teaching qualification at CAT Braamfontein campus to explore cross-cultural issues in learning and reinforce the global scope of the institution.
• develop an induction and professional learning and development program for all sessional teaching staff.
• coordinate a college-wide staff learning and development program.
• recognise and reward teaching excellence both individual and team).
• introduce a teaching sabbatical program.
• conduct a formal review of the learning and teaching services provided by the college to provide more effective support, and achieve greater efficiencies and co-ordination.
• within the context of this review, improve CAT’s capacity in curriculum development, particularly within Further education (FE), maintaining a strong focus on the development of graduate capabilities.
• review and enhance academic support to international onshore students, and achieve a closer alignment with the provision of relevant student services.
• establish an Indigenous Academic Partnership Committee chaired by the Deputy CEO (Academic) with the aim of improving Indigenous students’ participation and the indigenous student experience in FE and higher education (HE).
• improve e-learning and the use of information communication technology.
• ensure that excellence in e-Learning is recognised and rewarded in learning and teaching awards (both individual and collective) and staff promotions schemes .
• collaborate with Information Technology Services in the development of a student portal. The portal will create a single point of access to student support services, learning content, interactivity with peers and networks, course and program information, learning content and student administration.
•• The Learning and Teaching Investment Fund.
• CAT will establish a Learning and Teaching Investment Fund comprising two funding programs which are designed to support the learning and teaching initiatives as expressed in the strategy and to foster the scholarship of learning and teaching.

The Course and Program Initiatives Program

For the development of course and program initiatives aligned with CAT’s strategic priorities, including:

Dual sector qualifications – Initiatives that promote pathways between sectors, including dual sector qualifications (eg. Associate Degrees, industry-based pathways, cross-sector electives).
Indigenous programs - Programs to support the participation and learning outcomes of indigenous South Africa (eg. Co-operative Training Partnerships).
Industry relevance - New or renewed programs with significant industry input that support vocational and professional outcomes in priority and emerging areas.
Global expo- Curriculum development that promotes student mobility (virtual and campus-based) and the portability of qualifications.
Work-integrated learning – Development of new or existing programs for delivery in South Africa and off-shore.
E-learning - Initiatives that improve the online experience for students in South Africa and across borders.
The Professional Learning and development Program

For enhancing the quality of learning and teaching through:

• a mandatory qualification in tertiary teaching.

• a teaching sabbatical program offering opportunities to learn more about effective learning and teaching practice and to participate in international staff exchange and programs focused on learning and teaching.

• support for preparing competitive learning and teaching grants and for publications in the area of learning and teaching.

• ongoing development for learning and teaching

Research and learning and teaching

In addition to the emphasis placed on other areas of expertise, the learning and teaching plan also acknowledges the strength of CAT’s research activities and aims to build on opportunities to align learning and teaching with research. The learning and teaching strategy proposes to achieve this by:

• supporting the Higher education Student Experience and encouraging the development of a research student cohort.
• encouraging a Scholarship of Learning and teaching which is reflected in recognised research outcomes.
• utilising research in teaching – particularly in relation to CAT research Institutes and areas of strength

5. Targets for achievement in learning and teaching

There are a number of key indicators by which the College measures success. These include graduate employment levels, enterprise formation or self-employment and graduate satisfaction with the course and the relevancy of their qualification as well as staff satisfaction with the learning and teaching environment.

Targets for achievement to 2010 include:

• graduate employment 5% over national graduate average by 2011
• graduates involved in enterprise formation 5% over national graduate average by 2012
• student completion rates at 5% above the national average

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