Director’s Message: Associate Professor Kasturi Behari-Leak

A warm welcome to the Academic Staff and Professional Development (ASPD) unit. Established in 2021 and located in the Dean’s Office in the Centre of Higher Education Development (CHED), the work of ASPD draws on institutional context through the UCT Vision 2030 Framework and the Curriculum Change Framework to amplify UCT’s call to be a university in and of Africa. Using a cascading model of practice, ASPD asserts its site of sociological work as Afrikan. It uses a signature pedagogy of critically reflexive practice and participatory learning and action in the context of social justice and social inclusion. ASPD adopts a critical, relevant and responsive stance to professional development and the demands placed on academics as university teachers and researchers.

Academic Staff and Professional Development (ASPD)

The Academic Staff and Professional Development (ASPD) Unit endeavors to support academics by developing and enhancing their ability in their roles as university teachers, researchers, and members of the UCT academic community, at various stages of their academic career, so that they may exercise their agency in meaningful ways. Our current context, locally, nationally, and globally, demands that we seek more relevant and engaging ways to teach, assess and design curricula. ASPD offers a suite of contextualised and critical professional development programmes to prepare academics to make informed choices about research, teaching, learning, assessment, and curriculum practices. The ASPD unit will work with various units in CHED that are involved in a range of academic staff development activities that extend the Centre’s development work into disciplinary domain in a faculty across UCT. CHED has premised its work on a multiple-literacies framework, advocating that many literacies, not just academic literacies, need support, expression and strengthening as students transition into and through their programmes.

Programmes in ASPD:

1. New Academic Practitioners’ Programme (NAPP)

The New Academics’ Practitioners’ Programme (NAPP), our flagship programme for new academics, provides a strong model of contextualised induction for new academics transitioning into higher education. NAPP is a powerful networking opportunity, based on a community of practice model, where new academics collaboratively strategise around teaching, learning, curriculum and assessment issues related to discipline-specific teaching projects. With a keen focus on the higher education classroom in the context of transformation, decolonisation and change, NAPP provides a collegial space to have difficult conversations and to collaboratively strategise around issues of power, privilege, positionality and agency in interactions with peers and students. Participants identify a teaching project to explore as part of a critical reflection journey.

The NAPP programme consists of a two and a half-day residential retreat plus two full-day teaching, learning, assessment and curriculum workshops spread out over a semester. NAPP runs in the first semester and is repeated with a new cohort in the second semester. In light of the university’s decision to adopt a blended teaching and learning mode in 2021, sections of the NAPP offering will be facilitated in contact and online mode.

For more information and other queries, contact Ms Avrill Dawson (

NAPP Team:

2. Established and Seasoned Academic Practitioners Programme

The Established and Seasoned Academic Practitioners’ Programme (ESAPP) is targeted at enhancing the teaching practices of established or seasoned academics, with a focus on post-graduate teaching and supervision pedagogy. This new programme, launched in 2021, draws on established academics’ strengths, experiences and capacities to further enhance and give substantive shape to academics’ teaching aspirations as post-graduate university teachers and supervisors. ESAPP focuses on academics who have been in HE/ at UCT for 5-15 years (or longer) and who themselves recognise a need for a ‘refresher course’ on the latest, current and relevant teaching frameworks and curriculum models in relation to post-graduate teaching and supervision pedagogy. ESAPP consists of a two-day residential retreat (online or F2F) at the beginning of each year. A cohort of 20 academics will be invited to engage with a series of relevant topics focused on increased contextual and disciplinary understanding and awareness of strategies to exercise their agency in post graduate teaching and supervision pedagogy.

For more information and other queries, contact Ms Avrill Dawson(

3. The Heads of Department/ Division Enhancement Programme (HoDEP)

The Heads of Department/ Division Enhancement Programme (HoDEP) supports and provides capacity-building opportunities for middle-level leadership and management. This offers an opportunity to grow a community of engaged and critical middle-level leadership in the institution. The programme is developed thematically around the topic “Leadership and Management in a 21st century African Higher Education Context” across a broad range of topics: (1) the social and political context of Higher Education; (2) academic, research, teaching and learning and student leadership, and engaged scholarship; (3) strategic, financial, HR and conflict-resolution leadership. The programme draws on a range of presenters from across many constituencies at UCT. Using a range of workshop modalities, such as small-group interaction, reflective practice activities and presenter inputs, HoDEP runs annually in small-cohort model to allow for the development of deep-level, collegial interaction. HoDEP runs annually with a 2-day residential retreat.

For more information and other queries, contact Ms Avrill Dawson (

4. The Short Course on Teaching (TSCOT)

The Short Course on Teaching (TSCOT) is a small group, participatory learning and action model of professional development to address a self-identified challenge or opportunity in their teaching and to develop ways of deepening perspectives, designing, implementing and evaluating their courses and teaching in their disciplines. It brings together a small group of emerging or established lecturers to share pedagogical perspectives in the context of a complex and changing higher education sector. The strength of this model is its intimate setting, where a sense of trust is modelled and promoted. Participants also benefit from the cross-disciplinary constitution of the group, where differences in age, experience, disciplinary background and positionality contribute to the rich and informative perspectives shared in this space. TSCOT runs over six weeks and offers opportunities for classroom visits, seminars and consultations. If requested, Teaching Observation is offered as an additional reflective and evaluative tool for teaching practice and to work with student course evaluations on teaching.

For more information and other queries, contact Ms Avrill Dawson(