"Transformation through greater inclusivity, localisation and multilingualism"
Tim Low is a senior lecturer who teaches mathematics and statistics within the Education Development Unit in the Faculty of Commerce. With his research interests in mathematical and statistical education, his work seeks to contribute to, support and advocate for transformation through creating greater inclusivity, localisation and multilingualism within the teaching of statistics at UCT.
In 2011, Tim was honoured with a UCT Distinguished Teacher Award in recognition of his contribution to undergraduate teaching, especially with the use of technology.
In February 2019, Tim was awarded a grant from the DOT4D project which he is using to develop a statistics open textbook that will be translated into isiXhosa, with the bigger vision of creating an application that will translate statistics terms into 10 South African official languages for first-year university students.
What is the problem he is trying to address using open textbooks?
Tim’s work aims to support the UCT Language Policy, the objective of which is to develop multilingual awareness and proficiency. Within this context, his open textbook project addresses the barriers and challenges faced by first-year university students who have English as a second or third language when they learn statistics for the first time at university.
Recognising the disparities between high school mathematics and the new material that students are exposed to when they enter university, the objective of Tim’s initiative is to create a localised, openly licensed isiXhosa resource which is a translation of components of the widely used UCT first-year statistics textbook, Introstat, which is also currently available as an open educational resource.
What is his authorship approach?
Tim has adopted a collaborative authorship approach in which he is working with language specialists from the Department of Linguistics at UCT as well as Xhosa-speaking statistics students and tutors. In this approach, the students enjoy the recognition of their home languages and add value to the content creation process. Tim’s investment in this process and in collaborative work with students is driven by the belief that not being able to understand the conversations that students have is equivalent to the students not being able to understand him and the language of statistics. It is this disconnect that he is attempting to address.