Developing teaching and learning in Mozambican higher education : a study of the pedagogical development process at Eduardo Mondlane University

Abstract: This thesis analyses the implementation of a student-centred learning approach at the Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM), in the context of the current curricular reform. The main objective of the thesis is to gain understanding of the implementation of a student-centred learning approach and how the innovation is related to the acquisition of teachers’ pedagogical competence at the above mentioned university. A sociocultural approach and more specifically Cultural Historical Activity Theory is used as a theoretical framework given that it provides a view of learning as a context based social activity. A qualitative approach based on document analysis, classroom observations and semi-structured interviews with different actors in the process of teaching, learning and teacher training was used. The findings of the three studies carried out and presented in four articles in the thesis show that the lecturers do not feel ownership of the curriculum reform introducing the new pedagogical approach, and revealed a conflict of interests in the process of implementation of the reform. Students appear to be unclear about the significance of the new approach and they cannot judge if it is correctly implemented. Contextual factors such as a high number of students in the classroom, poor infrastructure and inadequate access to educational resources also affect the students’ performance in their learning. The university teachers expressed a need for training and the creation of adequate material conditions in order to be able to apply the innovations. However, signs of positive attitudes towards this approach were also revealed by the informants, which demonstrates the existing potential of the reform. It was found that the role of the teacher is crucial in making students active, motivated and self-regulated. Moreover, the students’ active learning depends on several factors, such as contextual, social and psychological aspects of the process. In relation to the acquisition of teachers’ pedagogical competence, a comparative study of the official documents of Eduardo Mondlane University and Umeå University explicitly shows a focus on the development of pedagogical competence for all categories of teachers. However, due to significant differences in historical pre-conditions, cultural contexts and educational artefacts the findings revealed many differences in the corresponding collective activity systems. In conclusion, the thesis indicates that the implementation of student-centred learning at UEM depends on the availability of good educational infrastructure and also the development of human resources. Furthermore, less hierarchical communication at the university could accelerate the process.