Original Research - Special Collection: Africa We Want - Perspective from GJHHD

Nurturing inclusivity among Durban University of Technology students through reflective writing

Rhoda T.I. Abiolu, Linda Z. Linganiso, Hosea O. Patrick
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 2 | a7680 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i2.7680 | © 2022 Rhoda T.I. Abiolu, Linda Z. Linganiso, Hosea O. Patrick | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 April 2022 | Published: 05 December 2022

About the author(s)

Rhoda T.I. Abiolu, Centre for General Education, Faculty of Arts and Design, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa
Linda Z. Linganiso, Research and Postgraduate Support, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa
Hosea O. Patrick, Global Migration and Community Development, School of Built Environment and Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Abstract

Reflective writing is unarguably an essential component in experiential learning. For this reason, its usefulness as a communicative tool in nurturing students’ inclusivity, agency and sense of belonging needs further academic engagement. Additionally, the surrounding access, participation and success of students in higher education and the importance of reflective writing require adequate exploration within the South African space, thereby necessitating this study. This article is an inferential experiential discourse on the use of reflective writing as an important skillset acquired by students through the flagship Cornerstone module offered by the Centre for General Education, Durban University of Technology. This article explores using reflective writing for students to freely express themselves, thereby cultivating a deeper sense of inclusiveness and belonging and encouraging active involvement in socialisation and transformative education. The study’s setting was premised within the Durban University of Technology university-wide Cornerstone module for first-year students (enrolled in the course for the second semester, 2021 session). The authors employed a self-reflective practice owing to the authors’ inferential experiences as facilitators of the module (between 2018 and 2021) in utilising reflective writing in the classroom, along with a triangulation of secondary data from the literature. The study revealed that reflective writing aids a practice of inclusivity that underpins transformative learning. It forms the basis for a participatory methodological approach in educational encounters. It can be leveraged to tackle identity and belonging crises and exclusions by giving a voice to students to express themselves freely and creatively. The authors advocate for more relevant, inclusive and creative educational approaches to tackle societal issues. This can be effective for identity building, a sense of community and belongingness and individual motivation to communicate, creating a space for participation and valued involvement for students.

Contribution: This article contributes to advancing divergent teaching practices such as more dialogic learner-centred techniques available through reflective writing methodologies compared to univocal delivery methods to encourage a more inclusive pedagogy and sense of placement and belonging for students.


Keywords

reflective writing; belonging; identity; higher education; South Africa.

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