Reflexivity and Openness: Understanding our internal conversations


Dr Glenda Cox is a senior lecturer in the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT: at the University of Cape Town and her portfolio includes Curriculum projects, Teaching with Technology innovation grants, Open Education Resources and Staff development. She has recently completed her PhD in Education and her research focused on using the theoretical approach of Social Realism to explain why academic staff choose to contribute or not to contribute their teaching resources as open educational resources. She believes supporting and showcasing UCT staff who are excellent teachers, both in traditional face-to-face classrooms and the online world, is of great importance. She is passionate about the role of Open Education in the changing world of Higher Education

 Seminar abstract

This presentation introduces a theoretically-based explanation of both why lecturers contribute and why they do not deliberately contribute OER to public platforms.  These findings presented here are part of my PhD that I completed last year entitled:  Explaining the relations among culture, structure and agency influence lecturers’ contribution and non-contribution of OER in a higher education institution in South Africa. The focus is on agency and addresses the question: What agency do lecturers display in relation to OER contribution or non-contribution?


Fourteen lecturers from the University of Cape Town were interviewed (two from each of its seven faculties), seven who had contributed OER and seven who had not.  The social realism of Margaret Archer (1995, 2003, 2007a, 2012) was used to explore the power of the agent to decide on their course of action related to their personal concerns. Reflexivity is our internal conversations shared by all people.  It is through these internal conversations that we decide how to take action (or not). An important part of the internal conversation is an attempt to figure out where we stand in society; Archer calls this a “feasibility study” (2003: 123). In her research, she identified four different modes of reflexivity: communicative, autonomous, meta-reflexives and fractured reflexives. The interviews with these individuals revealed their life histories and personal concerns which in turn led to an understanding that these academics share because the act of sharing is congruent with their broader life concerns. Enablers and constraints in their contexts are subverted in order to achieve their life concerns and neither rewards nor policy are seen as constraints for contributors. Those who are not contributing are unlikely to share materials as they have other concerns such as improving their classroom practice and developing their students. Archer’s modes of reflexivity will be introduced. It seemed from a detailed reading of Archer’s work that it would be the meta-reflexives (who reflect on their own reflection) might contribute OER as they are typified as having social justice concerns. Somewhat surprisingly the Autonomous reflexives (who reflect and take action), focused on multi-tasking and moving up the academic ladder were the most likely to share OER. 


Wed, 21 Jun 2017 -
13:00 to 14:00

CHED Boardroom, 6th Floor, Hoerikwaggo Building, Upper Campus, North Lane

Contact Information: 

Please RSVP to Mzi Mnyatheli by Monday 19 June 2017.