Building common knowledge: negotiating new pedagogies in Higher Education in South Africa
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Discussions in this chapter are located within an action research-based study which aims at supporting the integration of enhanced pedagogies in one university in South Africa. The study recognises that even full-time funded students in Higher Education face economic pressures which mean that student employment alongside full-time study is approaching the norm. It also recognises that this situation has implications for the pedagogies that are used by university departments, whether students are preparing directly for the professions or undertaking more open-ended courses. In this chapter we focus on how one university initiative to create more responsive pedagogies has been negotiated into the practices of three departments in one university with a strong history of engaging first generation university students who are poor. In particular, we draw on the idea of common knowledge to explain how new understandings of pedagogy are negotiated into the practices by the core team and are then deployed institutionally. We identify and discuss the political nature of organisational innovation and the building of common knowledge, through discussing an illustrative ‘moment’ from the research project and the participatory research approach that we adopt. The chapter brings together analytic resources of cultural-historical theory, a participatory research approach and, in particular, ideas of relational expertise, common knowledge and relational agency.