• http://www.elainerumboll.com Polly Pan

    I think one of the inherent problems is the belief that knowledge acquisition especially in a tertiary undergraduate context is mainly a priori – knowledge which exists independent of experience; that knowledge is there to be consumed and that all argumentation relates merely to an understanding of the attributes and properties that constitute that knowledge. In order to simulate a posteriori argumentation you need to set up the validity of empirical evidence. So it goes back to the ancient debate about what knowledge really is – does one adopt a post structuralist stance where knowledge is always separate from experience, constantly in flux and emergent or is it the more ontological argument which states that knowledge always develops from a place of being. `being’ or `becoming’ If context is attributable to experience then aren’t you already assuming an a posteriori stance for a system which is teneted upon a priori thinking and pedagogy? Just a thought…

    • http://www.synapses.co.za Jacques

      Thanks for commenting, Polly. I can see that we’d need quite some time to sort out our epistemological differences, but in general I do agree that students are more comfortable with the “myth of the given”, and that pedagogy has to be responsive to that. But in my experience they have been able to accommodate both the a priori and the a posteriori, without having to lead them into the thickets of meta-conversations in epistemology. I struggle to get philosophy students to go there, never mind business students! But here, I’m simply making the limited claim that knowing where to look is a good first step to finding an answer.

  • Signe

    Of course the other assumption you’re working on is that all customers do their research before purchase. I doubt the world of commodity goods would thrive as much as it does if that were actually the case (retailers must count on people making ill-considered and unnecessary purchases).

  • http://www.6000.co.za 6000

    My biggest concern in this case would be that someone considered “bright” enough to attend University (and presumably to study Economics) had to be nudged in the right direction to consider asking the Economics Department a question about an Economics module.
    Where does this bewildering attitude end?
    Does this person head to Standard Bank because their cellphone stops working? Or to a picture-framing business because they have developed an irritating sore in an embarrassing and personal region?
    Your rights versus responsibilities point refers: if University is to educate an individual how to be an adult as much as how to excel in their area of study, surely one can only be spoonfed for so long?

  • Student

    Obviously the kind of half-wit question you received in your anonymous forum are not appreciated because it shows that the student has not put in little or no effort to find out for themselves. I would think that your course of action was probably the best and I would most likely respond the same, if at all.

    However there are some things which I do not agree with.

    Going to the economics department to find a piece of information is not efficient for the following reasons:

    1) 2 flights of steps from ground level, perhaps even a walk from the other side of campus through pedestrian congestion and in summer heat.
    2) queue at the reception
    3) unfriendly staff working the desks. (not surprising, they have most uninspiring jobs having to deal with a lot of spoilt/demanding “commerce kids” from 9 to 5)

    The student is obviously new to Vula and by “fishing” for an easy response in any number of random forums was probably the most efficient first solution to getting information, as making these kinds of posts (especially in your anonymous setting) is costless even if the probability of a quality response is low.

    Not all is lost: this student has probably learned quickly – no fellow student or course administrator is going to take the 10 seconds needed to copy and paste a link to the course outline for them(spoonfeeding). They will be forced to learn the tough bureaucratic lessons of the inefficient UCT Administration System or exploit some other means of information gathering for example: friends, peers or talking to strangers.

    I remember my first days at UCT, completely bewildered:

    “I get to make up my own timetable!?”
    “Whats a Faculty Handbook?”
    “Where is LS2D? Is that the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test venue?”
    “What are courses?”
    “Who is going to tell me where to go?”
    “Why haven’t I got a detention for sitting on these glorious steps all day?”
    “Should I buy more chicken burgers or that Accounting textbook” :)

    Since I didn’t have any friends taking the same degree, I had to find out all this information the hard way: harass/stalk/track down as many random students/staff/professors as needed to find the necessary information. I still have blisters on my feet to prove it :P

    So yes – students should do their goddamn research! Just a pity the “system” is set up to encourage so many pathetic/annoying attempts.

    Also, I agree with your observation on schools not encouraging the right mentalities: “why they should bother to understand it at all, what the purpose of that knowledge is, what it leads to, etc.”.

    Headmaster : “Kids you must just BELIEVE their is a god and respect others for doing so, but everything else, only logical reasoning can help you”
    Kids: “why I am not allowed to question the faith”
    Headmaster : “Detention!!!”

    You Said : “including the underlying assumption that information is only available online”

    Information should be available online primarily and FIRST! Think of the man hours this would save, I can only assume this is the reason why you praise Vula. Why doesn’t the Eco’s Dept have a Vula portal?! – This seems really obvious to me as not only would they need less staff to man the reception but the various department receptions sometimes possess information which can only be found out by physically visiting the dept – put it on the web already!!

    If your still interested in this topic let me know what you think, it would be interesting to get a lecturers perspective, ie has Vula saved you time or made more of a meal ito course administration etc. Also your thoughts on the efficiencies of finding out information at UCT – have I missed somthing?

    • http://www.synapses.co.za Jacques

      Hi “Student”, thanks for dropping by. Vula has in general saved plenty of time, especially in terms of tutorial registration and the ease with which notes and announcements can be posted. But it certainly has not solved the fundamental problem, which is that students seem to operate on the assumption that information will reach them somehow, without them having to look for it. To some extent, Vula is just another noticeboard which they don’t look at.

      As far as information dissemination in general at UCT goes, I’ll leave that for another day – hopefully tomorrow.