From left to right: Professor Brian McArthur, Ms
Vanessa Tang and Professor Kriben Pillay.

Responding to the College of Law and Management’s strategic goal to increase the number of PhDs among staff and promote excellence in teaching and learning, the office of the Dean of Teaching and Learning recently arranged for staff who had recently graduated with their PhDs to share their experiences at the Westville campus. As well as an insightful talk by Ms Vanessa Tang of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance at the Pietermaritzburg campus. Both events were streamed live on the web.

The Westville event saw Dr Vannie Naidoo from the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance, Dr Sandra Hildbrand from the Graduate School of Business and Leadership, and Dr Karen Bargate from the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance – all of whom graduated with their doctoral degrees earlier this year – share the personal and professional challenges and benefits of studying for a PhD.

The academics highlighted the importance of having support from family, getting a good balance between their studies and work and the need to be passionate about their research. The challenges they faced included dealing with a personal loss while studying, consulting with supervisors who might retire before they have completed their studies and transcribing data from their interviews.

Commenting on the purpose of the forum, College Dean of Teaching and Learning, Professor Kriben Pillay, said: ‘The aim of sharing the academics’ journey with other staff is for those currently doing their PhDs to know that they are not alone, that their research is beneficial to teaching and learning and for them to receive advice on how to cope with the challenges they are facing.’

The Pietermaritzburg campus event saw Tang deliver a talk titled, ‘A Piagetian-Bloomsian approach to teaching and learning economic concepts’. Tang’s talk forms part of an extended research initiative in which she has been involved for a number of years.

Tang said that by addressing queries about her teaching approach, she found the inspiration to begin the research presented in her Talk. She also used classroom evaluations and observations as cornerstones for developing the insights presented in her paper.

Professor Brian McArthur of the Discipline of Information Systems and Technology noted the passion in Tang’s teaching approach. ‘Your enthusiasm for teaching definitely came through in your presentation and for this reason I would imagine that you are able to achieve success in whatever teaching approach you utilise. The perspectives presented in your talk were especially interesting,’ he said.

Tang said she hoped her views on teaching and learning in economics would inspire colleagues to find unique approaches to teaching and learning which they could share.   

The streamed forums attracted the attention of people in Malaysia, London, England and Germany. 

*A book titled Comparative Regionalisms for Development in the 21st Century: Insights from the Global South, co-edited by Tang was released earlier this year by Ashgate Publishers.