Student Engagement In Higher Education

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The intention in this research is assess senior leaderships’ contribution and meaningful engagement with the complexities and contradictions of higher education that require careful consideration of the meaning of social justice and how this translates to policy and practice. With much of the work and research done internationally on social justice in education, it is not surprising that the focus on higher education in South Africa currently is critical. Evident in the literature are three conceptual areas of relevance to this study.
1. social justice
2. student engagement
3. leadership
So to begin with the understanding of the term social justice I wish to refer to John Rawl’s who theory of justice is useful in understanding access and social …show more content…

Even those who are at the forefront of the movement concede that it has yet to solidify as a field of study (Merchant & Shoho, 2006). Thus if higher education has a role to play in understanding and upholding social justice, then senior leaders themselves need to guide intellectual and political thought across all levels of society. Thus student engagement is wide-ranging phenomena that includes both academic and non-academic activities. The commitment of students’ participation in higher education is a critical factor and senior leaders need to promote student engagement, particularly those who face the greatest challenges in transition. Trowler (2010) recent literature review on student engagement identifies and defines engagement as being concerned with: “the interaction between the time, effort and other relevant resources invested by both students and their institutions intended to optimise their student experience and enhance the learning outcomes and development of students and their performance, and reputation of the institution” (p.3) Trowler reminds us of how important student is in terms of equality and social justice. Harper and Quaye (2009) cited in Trowler et al (p.13) were very clear when they said that institutions need to strategize of ways to increase student engagement from a diverse group of students, especially for those whom engagement is seen …show more content…

Leadership is a socially agreed construct with no clear agreed definition. Yukl (2002) contends that “most definitions of leadership reflect the assumption that it involves a process whereby intentional influence is exerted by one person over other people to guide, structure and facilitate activities and relationship in a group or organizations”(p.2). However in an educational environment, the leadership is context dependent and different styles of leadership can be successful. It is evident in SA higher education that the governance structure does not allow leadership to reside in one person. Instead, the governance structure allows for participatory leadership from various stakeholders, but the executions and implementation of decisions is carried out by the senior leadership. Therefore there has been several authors like Fullan, 2001; Storey, 2004 Thrupp & Willmott, 2003 who have shown that it is difficult to distinguish between leadership and management. Kotter states that management and leadership in some ways are similar (1990, p. 5) but he goes on to say that even more fundamentally, leadership and management differ in terms of their primary functions. The first can produce useful change the second can create orderly results which keep an

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