SENCER in South Africa

Some sixty faculty members, researchers, and academic leaders from the Mamelodi Campus of the University of Pretoria, the University of Johannesburg, Tshwane University of Technology, and the Academy of Science for South Africa and others attended the SENCER Symposium held on March 12 at Hatfield, the main campus of the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Many participants expressed the hope that this would be the first of what could become an annual event.

From left to right: Marietjie Potgieter, Bianca Verlinden, Karen Kashmanian Oates, Garon Smith, Debra Meyer, David Burns, and Lungile “Sunshine” Sitole

Organized by Professor Debra Meyer, head of the department of biochemistry at the University of Pretoria and SENCER Senior Fellow, the symposium was designed to connect science learning with critical civic issues. More fundamentally, however, the organizers aimed to apply the SENCER ideals to improving “through put” – that is, the likelihood that a student will successfully complete a course of studies in the sciences. Given that the South African higher (tertiary) education system utilizes very traditional large-enrollment lectures and episodic high-stakes testing pedagogies, a most compelling challenge is to move in the direction of adopting active learning strategies.

For more information about the symposium, browse the resources to the right. Future updates on how the SENCER project in South Africa progresses will be posted as the project moves forward.


May 14, 2014 – A recent piece published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences further illustrates the value of a topic addressed during the Symposium in Pretoria.

The full text of ‘Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics’ may be found here under the listing of publications released on May 12, 2014. For an article on the publication by the National Science Foundation, please click here.

April 11, 2014 – An article on the Symposium released through the SENCER eNews.