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#6 – A humanistic pedagogy for student support

In this episode, I talk to Dr Mpho Jama about how a humanistic pedagogy could be key to facilitating student success through enhanced support. She suggests that it is in the human relationships between teachers and students that we must look to provide higher, more subtle levels of support for students.

Dr Jama is the head of the Division of Student Learning and Development in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Free State. Mpho does research on student retention, Humanistic pedagogy and Qualitative Social Research. Her PhD thesis is entitled: Designing an academic support and development programme to combat attrition among non-traditional medical undergraduates.

Resources for this conversation

Jama, M. (2016). Academic Guidance for Undergraduate Students in a South African Medical School: Can we guide them all? Journal of Student Affairs in Africa, 4(2):13-24.

Jama, M. (2010). Designing an academic support and development programme to combat attrition. PhD thesis. 10.13140/RG.2.1.1882.5120.

Jama, M., Monnapula-Mapesela, M & Beylefeld, A.A. (2008). Theoretical perspectives on factors affecting the academic performance of students. South African Journal of Higher Education, 22(5).

Jama, M. & Beylefeld, A.A. (2007). “Thou shallt know thy student”. What pre-university attributes characterised the first-year medical students that were denied examination access in 2007, and what competencies did they lack? Poster presentation.

More of Dr Jama’s work can be found on her ResearchGate profile.


Note: In order to listen to this podcast you will need to install a podcast app on your phone or tablet. iPhones come with one pre-installed and you can choose from a variety of options on Android devices. Open the podcast app, search for “SAAHE” and then subscribe to the podcast. You will now be able to download any of the episodes for offline listening when you’re out and about.

#5 – A critical pedagogy for online learning, with Michael Rowe

Earlier this year the Critical Physiotherapy Network published Manipulating practices: A critical physiotherapy reader. The book is a collection of critical writing from a variety of authors dealing with a range of topics related to physiotherapy practice and education.  One of the interesting features of this collection is that it is completely open access, which means that the authors, and not the publishers, have the intellectual property rights to make choices about what is permissable to do with the content of the book. While the entire book is available in different formats, including PDF, HTML, EPUB and XML, there is no audio version.

This SAAHE podcast is a recording of one chapter in the collection, entitled “A critical pedagogy for online learning in physiotherapy education“. We are using the SAAHE blog to experiment with sharing content in different formats, and would love to hear your feedback on whether or not this is something you would like to see more of.


In order to graduate physiotherapy students who are able to thrive in increasingly complex health systems, professional educators must move away from instrumental, positivist ideologies that disempower both students and lecturers. Certain forms of knowledge are presented as objective, value-free, and legitimate, while others – including the personal lives and experiences of students – are moved to the periphery and regarded as irrelevant for professional education. This has the effect of silencing students’ voices and sending the message that they are not in control of their own learning. While the integration of digital technology has been suggested as a means for developing transformative teaching and learning practices, it is more commonly used to control students through surveillance and measurement. This dominant use of technology does little more than increase the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of information delivery, while also reinforcing the rigid structures of the classroom. Physiotherapy educators who adopt a critical pedagogy may use it to create personal learning environments (PLEs) that enable students to inform their own learning based on meaningful clinical experiences, democratic approaches to learning, and interaction with others beyond the professional programme. These PLEs enable exploration, inquiry and creation as part of the curriculum, and play a role in preparing students to engage with the complex and networked systems of the early 21st century. While the potential for pedagogical transformation via the integration of digital technology is significant, we must be critical of the idea that technology is neutral and be aware that our choices concerning tools and platforms have important implications for practice.

#4 – Case based learning, with Corne Postma

In this episode I speak to Corné Postma from the University of Pretoria. We discuss his PhD research where he looked at the use of case-based learning to develop clinical reasoning in undergraduate Dentistry students. Corné used both quantitative and qualitative data to determine that students’ clinical reasoning ability improved after using a case-based approach to learning.

Corné is an Associate Professor in the Department of Dental Management Sciences, School of Dentistry, at the University of Pretoria. He is a specialist in Community Dentistry by training and his primary teaching responsibility lies in the domain of Comprehensive Patient Care, which includes patient communication, patient administration, clinical reasoning and patient management. He is also involved in developing other non-clinical skills such as self-awareness, ethics, professionalism, leadership, team work and health advocacy skills in dental students.

Corné has a very broad clinical research interest, which correlates with the generalist requirement of Comprehensive Patient Care. He has a particular affinity for health professions education research, which is closely linked to the development of different kinds of soft skills in students. His research outputs can be viewed on Google Scholar. Corné is a SAFRI (Sub-Saharan African Foundation for the Advancement of International Medical Education and Research Regional Institute) as well as a TAU (Teaching Advancement at University) fellow.

Resources for this conversation


Note: In order to listen to this podcast you will need to install a podcast app on your phone or tablet. iPhones come with one pre-installed and you can choose from a variety of options on Android devices. Open the podcast app, search for “SAAHE” and then subscribe to the podcast. You will now be able to download any of the episodes for offline listening when you’re out and about.

#3 – Standard setting, with Scarpa Schoeman

In this episode of the SAAHE podcast I speak to Prof. Scarpa Schoeman, Director of Undergraduate Medical Education at the Wits Medical School, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, where he leads and directs the Graduate Entry Medical Programme. Scarpa and I talk about the (almost) universal pass mark (cut score) of 50% and the problems with this as a standard. We also discuss possible alternatives to standard setting that take into account the validity and reliability of the assessment scores, as well the difficulty of the test.

Scarpa has published a variety of peer reviewed articles and presented at international conferences on the topic of medical education and assessment. His research interests include assessment and standard setting (the Cohen method in particular), as well as the educational environment for medical students. His clinical interests and practice focuses on Emergency Medicine. He also acts as Assessment consultant to the Colleges of Physicians, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatricians and Anaesthetists of South Africa. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the United Kingdom and is a part time tutor in Assessment and Standard setting for the CME at Dundee University.

Resources for this conversation


Note: In order to listen to this podcast you will need to install a podcast app on your phone or tablet. iPhones come with one pre-installed and you can choose from a variety of options on Android devices. Once the podcast app is up and running, search for “SAAHE” and subscribe to the podcast. You will now be able to download any of the episodes for offline listening when you’re out and about.

#2: Mapping exit-level assessment, with Christina Tan

I recently spoke with Christina Tan, a PhD graduate from the University of Stellenbosch, who conducted research into the validity of assessing exit-level outcomes in an undergraduate medical programme at three medical schools.

This is the second in our podcast series on research in health professions education. If you have any suggestions for future conversations, please let us know in the comments.

If you’d like to read more about Christina’s work, here is one of her recent papers: Tan, C., van Schalkwyk, S., Bezuidenhout, J. & Cilliers, F. (2016). Mapping undergraduate exit-level assessment in a medical programme: A blueprint for clinical competence? African Journal of Health Professions Education 8(1):45-49. DOI:10.7196/AJHPE.2016.v8i1.546


Note: In order to listen to this podcast you will need to install a podcast app on your phone or tablet. iPhones come with one pre-installed and you can choose from a variety of options on Android devices. Once the podcast app is up and running, search for “SAAHE” and subscribe to the podcast. You will now be able to download any of the episodes for offline listening when you’re out and about.

#1: Patient-centredness, with Elize Archer

Welcome to a new SAAHE initiative where we have conversations with people doing interesting work in health professions education. In this conversation I talk to Elize Archer, a recent PhD graduate from the University of Stellenbosch. Elize conducted her research on patient-centred approaches to clinical practice among medical students. In our conversation we discuss different aspects of patient-centred practice, how to think about developing this mindset in students, and some of the challenges to its implementation.

You can read more about Elize’s work here: Archer, E. & van Heerden, B. (2016). Undergraduate medical students’ attitudes towards patient-centredness: a longitudinal study. DOI: https://doi.org/10.15694/mep.2017.000161.

We hope that this is the first of many such conversations and your comments and feedback are welcome. In particular, we’d love to hear your suggestions about PhD and group research projects that have the potential to change practice. If you know of anyone doing work that you think would be valuable to be shared more widely, please do let us know. I apologise for the audio quality at times during the recording. This is something that we’ll work on improving in the future. The conversation is just short of 50 minutes. I hope that you enjoy it.


Note: In order to listen to this podcast you will need to install a podcast app on your phone or tablet. iPhones come with one pre-installed and you can choose from a variety of options on Android devices. Once the podcast app is up and running, search for “SAAHE” and subscribe to the podcast. You will now be able to download any of the episodes for offline listening when you’re out and about.

Two presentations on health professions education, by Paul Worley

Last week Prof. Paul Worley, the previous Dean of Flinders University School of Medicine in Adelaide, hosted two seminars during his visit to Cape town. He very kindly agreed to let us record both sessions and share them here. You can also visit the SAAHE Western Cape Facebook page for more opportunities to engage with the videos.

The future of health professions education

The video is about one and half hours but it is well worth the time invested. Please note that the audio recording for this session is not great.


Decentralised clinical training for the health professions


Thank you to colleagues at Stellenbosch University for hosting the sessions and for their efforts in making the recordings available.

New SAAHE President: Prof. Francois Cilliers

We would like to congratulate Prof. Francois Cilliers on his new position as the incoming President of SAAHE and Chair of the National Executive and Council. Francois has been a member of SAAHE from the very earliest days of the organisation, when it was little more than an informal group of like-minded colleagues in the Western Cape, and has always been an active member at the regional and national levels. We have no doubt that SAAHE will continue to grow and develop under his leadership, as a positive force for health professions education in the country.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Prof. Gert van Zyl for his enormous contribution to SAAHE as President over the past few years. His commitment and dedication to the organisation have set a high standard indeed, and we wish him all the best for the future.

Consensus Statement on Decentralised Training in the Health Professions

At the closing ceremony of the 2017 SAAHE national conference in Potchefstroom, delegates adopted a conference declaration in the form of the Consensus Statement on Decentralised Training in the Health Professions, which was endorsed by the SAAHE national council.

This statement was the culmination of discussions over the last two years at SAAHE conferences and national workshops, driven by the Stellenbosch University Collaborative Capacity Enhancement with Districts (SUCCEED) project and the Forum for Rural Clinical Education (FORCE), a SAAHE special interest group which is being re-constituted as a special interest group for decentralised education, amongst others. The focus of these discussions has been on the importance and value of decentralised training in terms of transforming teaching and learning and in addressing the human resources for health needs of our country.

The consensus statement positions decentralised training as being part of the solution to the challenges we face in health care, and calls on all those involved – particularly education and service partners – to work together towards developing a shared vision for such training. It is part of a process that includes the development of a framework that will provide practical guidance for implementing decentralised training.

We invite SAAHE members to support the statement, to use it in advocating for decentralised training and to request organisations that you are part of to consider adding their formal endorsement of it. Please let us know about any such endorsements or formal institutional support via the comments field below.

Download the statement.

Winner 2017 Distinguished Educator award – Prof. Jose Frantz

SAAHE is proud to announce that Professor Jose Frantz is the 2017 winner of the SAAHE Distinguished Educator award.

Professor Frantz has an outstanding track record as a researcher in her disciplinary field and HPE. With more than 80 peer reviewed publications, 2 book chapters and 43 conference presentations she plays a key role in promoting dialogue, exchanging ideas and disseminating research findings about the education of healthcare professionals. The footprint of dissemination is large; SA universities (UWC, UCT, Fort Hare, UL, UKZN), African universities in Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda and Zimbabwe, and international universities in Norway and USA.

Professor Frantz has hosted international, national and regional workshops that span more than a decade. She has specialised in faculty development workshops that focus on promoting research in both physiotherapy as well as HSE. She is widely recognised as an excellent mentor and supervisor of postgraduate research. Her track record of student supervision, 81 higher degree candidates in 15 years – a remarkable achievement, and the highly prestigious National Research Foundation award for capacity development (see below) speak of her major contribution to developing other HSE practitioners and researchers. Many of her students, under her ongoing mentorship, have achieved great success, including professorial status, head of department appointments and deanship.

Her role as a mentor of African HSE practitioners in the sub-Sahara Africa FAIMER Institute (SAFRI) since its inception in 2008 has been, and continues to be, invaluable. She has worked closely with many fellows in this programme, promoting their own professional development as well as the development of their institutions. Over the past 10 years Professor Frantz has presented her work at six of the annual SAAHE conferences. Professor Frantz’s CV shows ample evidence of national and international collaboration – both disciplinary and HSE, over the past decade. To date she has received more than R 3 million in the form of grants to support all her collaborative research work with SA universities and work in Sudan, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. She is currently involved in six collaborative projects focusing on building education and research capacity in Africa. She has also hosted numerous workshops in African countries, and further abroad, which have fostered and developed scholarship in higher education.

Professor Frantz holds national and international leadership positions in which she has made, and continues to make, a significant contribution to the discourse about the adequate preparation of health care professionals in physiotherapy. She was Dean of the Faculty of Community Health Sciences at UWC, is currently the DVC for Research and Innovation at UWC, and is a member of key structures in the national Department of Health, including the Health Deans Forum, Health Platform Committee, Joint Standing Advisory Committee, National Physiotherapy forum and a representative on the Physiotherapy Clinical Committee for the clinical placement of physiotherapists. She is also a member of the South African Society of Physiotherapists, the World Confederation of Physiotherapists and the sub-Sahara African FAIMER Regional Institute which focuses specifically on developing HPE who are equipped to provide appropriate training for HPE in Africa. In these roles she has contributed to the development of policy documents regarding physiotherapy education in South Africa and elsewhere is Africa, including Sudan and Zimbabwe. As editor of the South African Journal of Physiotherapy and Deputy Editor of the African Journal of Health Professions Education she plays a pivotal role in advancing the dialogue about the delivery of adequately prepared health care professionals and HPE.

Over the past 15 years Professor Frantz has made, and continues to make, a major contribution to the development of the scholarly career paths of HSE in sub-Saharan Africa. To date she has graduated 47 higher degrees (39 Masters degrees and 8 PhDs) in the training and/or clinical practice of physiotherapy, and she is currently supervising another 8 Masters students and 11 PhD candidates. Her postgraduate students include practitioners from South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Sudan. Her unique skills in higher education capacity development were recently recognised in 2016, when she was awarded the National Research Foundation award for Champion of Research Capacity Development and Transformation at South African Higher Education Institutions.

Professor Frantz is also a reviewer for the three largest national research organizations in South Africa (National Research Foundation, Medical Research Council, and SANPAD) which provide the vast majority of funding for health professions research in South Africa. In this role she makes a strategic contribution to the national process of acknowledging and rewarding excellence in HSE and promoting the scholarly career paths of HPE in SA.