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Professor Jenni Case launches book

1 Jul 2014 - 16:30

Kevin Williams from the UCT Centre for Higher Education Development (left) and Delia Marshall from the Physics Department at UWC(right) supported Jenni and played a big role in the writing of her book.

On 12 November the Centre for Research in Engineering Education (CREE) celebrated the launch of Professor Jenni Case’s book Researching Learning in Higher Education: A Social Realist Approach. In her welcome, Dr Kate Le Roux, the Director of CREE, said, “Jenni has given CREE so many reasons to celebrate – from her NRF President’s award, Distinguished Teacher’s Award, her inaugural lecture and now her book, which is the first book publication coming out of CREE.” She added that education researchers often struggle to make their work count, but to have Jenni, who is an excellent teacher and researcher, make engineering education her academic career, is a huge boost for work done in this area.

In 1996, Jenni was appointed to the academic development post in the Department of Chemical Engineering at UCT and shortly thereafter she started her PhD, originally located in the science/engineering educational literature but Jenni found herself quickly drawn to higher education and student learning research. Over the years, Jenni’s research took her along many paths including succession of smart PhDs who drew her in a range of directions, including a social turn, a linguistic turn, and a collaboration with colleagues at Rhodes University.

Jenni had this idea about writing a book and was pondering what to write on when she was awarded a five-month Harvard Mandela Mellon Fellowship. She realised that time was going to be very short and that she would need to write something that was immediately at hand, issues with which she had already been grappling. The heart of the book is the research project and the time she spent in the third year class about a decade ago, focusing here on 14 student narrative. The research project was very significant, and gave her the opportunity to develop a complex and compelling picture of engineering education in South Africa.

At the end of the five months, she was at the ‘between the covers stages.’ She returned to UCT and her academic teaching before finding a few weeks at the end of the year to do the rework. A proof reading was done by her mother, Glynne Case, and before long the book was published by Routledge.

The book develops a novel set of proposals for potential ways forward in improving student learning in higher education.