Professor Charlene du Toit-Brits is shifting the paradigm

An inaugural lecture is regarded as a significant milestone in the life and career of an academic. It is a chance for new professorial colleagues to directly showcase their innovative research.

Professor Charlene du Toit-Brits delivered her inaugural lecture titled Are we there yet? A sense of ownership: Empowering Self-Directed Students in Higher Education.

The word of welcome was expressed by Professor Erika Serfontein, acting school director of the School of Professional Studies in Education (SPSE).

“It is an honour for us to host this ceremony to recognise Professor Charlene du Toit Brits's appointment to full professorship. Tonight is all about putting the icing on the cake,” she added.

In this lecture, Professor Du Toit-Brits argued that a significant paradigm shift is required from the traditional, teacher-centred instructional approach to a student-centred approach in higher education and in education in general. In a student-centred approach, teachers have to act as facilitators, assisting students in making decisions, setting goals and taking responsibility for and ownership of their learning process and outcomes.

She utilised the important points below to further clarify the discussion:

· Self-directed learning: Are we there yet? Unveiling the journey towards empowered education.

· Self-directed learning: Navigating the path to academic excellence.

· Navigating the challenges of self-directed learning.

· Exploring the significance of self-directed learning in higher education: have we arrived yet?

· Navigating the path of empowering self-directed students: exploring the fundamental role of a sense of ownership in higher education.

· Recommendations for empowering higher education: unleashing the power of self-directed learning through ownership.

In addition, Prof Du Toit-Brits emphasised that the implementation of self-directed learning (SDL) is pivotal, as SDL endeavours to cultivate intrinsic motivation among students, active engagement and personal investment in their learning process, and compels them to pursue educational endeavours aligned with their personal interests and goals.

Prof Du Toit-Brits continued to say that the cultivation of SDL is crucial in higher education, as it fosters the development of critical thinking, self-motivation, autonomy, self-direction, self-determination, self-regulation, introspection and adaptability. This equips students with the necessary skills to take on the complexities of contemporary society. She is further of the opinion that the capacity to participate in SDL – in other words, taking ownership of one's learning – is a valuable skill for students considering the changing landscape of higher education. She added that this skill enables students to achieve success and ownership not only in academic settings but also in their future professional pursuits.

“SDL offers insight into practical applications of educational methodologies and lecturers must establish a culture of collaboration where they play a supportive role and empower students by

involving them in decisions about curriculum, assessments and classroom activities. This will not only enable students to reflect on their learning processes, identify their strengths and weaknesses and adapt their learning styles accordingly, but it will also promote an inclusive learning environment,” added Prof Du Toit-Brits.

Professor Washington Dudu, deputy dean for Research and Innovation, had the honour of reading her biography and officially draping her in her academic regalia. He also highlighted that this is a once-in-a-lifetime moment and that she should live it to the fullest.

Dr Henry Blignaut, head of the BEdHons programme and lecturer, thanked Professor Du Toit-Brits for the opportunity to hear her presentation and for the opportunity to learn from her. He also reflected on the significance of the fundamental question raised in the inaugural address: "Are we truly fostering a culture where ownership of learning is fully embraced to empower students as self-directed learners?"

Professor Daryl Balia, deputy vice-chancellor for Assigned Functions and Campus Operations (PC), presented Prof Du Toit-Brits with a certificate and offered a word of congratulation.

“I congratulate you, Prof Charlene, for having arrived at this point in your academic journey. We celebrate it with you, and we are looking forward to a bright future with you at our university.”

In addition, he stated that the university and the Faculty of Education were looking forward to the transformation that Prof Du Toit-Brits would be implementing, because he was aware that she had always yearned to make a difference.


Professor Charlene du Toit-Brits

Submitted on Wed, 08/23/2023 - 07:33