A common phenomenon in the private higher education environment is that
lecturers are highly qualified subject specialists and conduct research mainly in
areas in their fields of expertise. Therefore they are not always well informed about
the dynamics of the global educational environment and they do not have an indepth
knowledge of how learning takes place. As a result of this the traditional
lecturing style is mainly used during contact sessions and mostly theoretical
knowledge is assessed in written examinations.
During class visits that were conducted as part of my duties as quality assurer of the
teaching, learning and assessment that take place in the Production Management
Institute of Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd (trading as PMI), a private higher education
institution, it was noticed that the facilitators of learning present mostly lectures that
are based on one-way communication with very little student participation. Learning
style flexibility and allowing active student participation during the contact sessions
are, in most instances, not considered. This lecturer-centred practice prevents the
students from developing responsibility for their own learning process and creating
an interest in becoming lifelong learners.
An action research-driven professional development programme was presented to
the academic staff of PMI to allow them the opportunity to develop innovative
facilitation of learning practices. The programme aimed to create a scholarly
approach to establishing a culture of lifelong learning in the private higher education
environment – in literature commonly referred to as a scholarship of learning and
The academic staff members conducted action research on their own practices as
facilitators and assessors of lifelong learning. I conducted living theory action
research on my style of being a mentor for the participants of the project.
The programme commenced in 2009. The content of and the level on which the
programme was presented are in line with a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE) that is offered at a public institution. The participants were
introduced to, inter alia, the principles of the Ned Herrmann Whole Brain® theory,
Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory and Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive levels.
As the first step in the programme all the participants completed the on-line
Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®). An accredited Hermann Brain
Dominance practitioner was contracted to provide feedback to the participants and
to explain the principles of this instrument. The HBDI® practitioner is affiliated on a
full-time basis with the education faculty of a public higher education institution. He
was contracted to facilitate the professional development programme as well.
The success of the programme became evident through student feedback and
requests, and feedback received from the participating facilitators of learning. Top
level management of PMI also became aware of the successes and it resulted in the
inclusion of the development of the academic staff members as one of the main
focus areas in the strategic management plan for 2010. It was decided that the
programme should be repeated every year in order to ensure the continuous
professional development of existing and new academic staff members. PMI was
invited to offer the programme in the Agriculture and Science Faculty of a public
Parts of the project were showcased at the 2010 and 2012 conferences of the
Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of South Africa (HELTASA)
and the Knowledge 2011 international conference.