I am currently working as an independent researcher and writing specialist, although I am an associate of the Centre for Postgraduate Studies at Rhodes University, in South Africa. My current research is focused on knowledge and meaning-making processes in higher education teaching and learning, and how teaching can make the structural, procedural and dispositional knowledges in academic subjects more knowable and accessible to a greater number of students. I was an AW Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning (CHERTL) at Rhodes University in 2015 and 2016. Prior to that, I was the coordinator of the University of the Western Cape’s Writing Centre, a post I held for 6 years. I have also spent time teaching, tutoring and mentoring undergraduate students, and have extensive experience working with both under- and postgraduate writers in higher education. I author two blogs on writing and research in higher education, one specifically focused on postgraduate writing, and the other more general in nature. When I am not working, I am at home with my two boys and my husband and enjoy reading, creative writing, and surfing.


I studied English Literature and Political Science as an undergraduate student, graduating with a BA, cum laude, from the former University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg in 2000 (now the University of KwaZulu-Natal. I specialised in Political Science in postgraduate study, obtaining an Honours degree (cum laude) in 2001. I moved into Women’s and Gender Studies, with Political Science, in my Master’s study at York University in Canada, graduating in 2005. I won a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship that enabled me to undertake this programme of study. I then worked as a tutor and academic teacher for a number of years, slowly developing an interest in researching higher education. I thus registered for a PhD in Higher Education Studies at Rhodes University in 2010, and graduated in 2014.

Other Publications

Peer reviewed articles

Clarence, S. 2018. ‘Towards inclusive participatory peer tutor development in higher education’Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning, 6(1): 58-74, 10.14426/cristal.v6i1.141.

Munje, P.N, Nanima, R.D., and Clarence, S. 2018. ‘The role of questioning in writing tutorials: a critical approach to student-centred learning in peer tutorials in higher education’Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning. 10.1080/13611267.2018.1511953.

Clarence, S. and McKenna, S. 2017. ‘Developing academic literacies through understanding the nature of disciplinary knowledge’London Review of Education, special issue on Academic Literacies. 15(1), 38-49.

Clarence, S. 2016. ‘Knowledge and knowers in teaching and learning: an enhanced approach to curriculum alignment’. Journal of Education, 66, 65-84.

Clarence, S. 2016. ‘Surfing the waves of learning: enacting a Semantics analysis of teaching in a first year Law course’. Higher Education, Research & Development, 36(5): 920-933. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2016.1263831.

van Heerden, M., Clarence, S., and Bharuthram, S. 2016. ‘What lies beneath: exploring the deeper purposes of feedback on student writing through considering disciplinary knowledge and knowers’. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 42(6): 967-977. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2016.1212985.

Clarence, S. 2016. ‘Peer tutors as learning and teaching partners: a cumulative approach to building peer tutoring capacity in higher education’. Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning, 4(1), 39-54. http://dx.doi.org/10.14426/cristal.v4i1.69.

Clarence, S. 2016. ‘Exploring the nature of disciplinary teaching and learning using Legitimation Code Theory Semantics’. Teaching in Higher Education, 21(2), 123-137. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2015.1115972.

Bharuthram, S. and Clarence, S. 2015. ‘Teaching reading as a disciplinary knowledge practice in higher education’. South African Journal of Higher Education, 29(2), 42-55.

Clarence, S., Albertus, L., & Mwambene, L. 2014. ‘Building an evolving model for teaching legal writing’. Higher Education, 67(6), 839-851. DOI: 10.1007/s10734-013-9707-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10734-013-9707-8.

Clarence, S. 2012. ‘Making spaces for talk about and change in student writing and literacy development’. Teaching in Higher Education, 17(2), 127-137. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2011.611876,

Clarence, S. 2009. ‘From rhetoric to practice: a critique of immigration policy in Germany through the lens of Turkish-Muslim women’s experiences of migration’. Theoria, 56(121), 57-91. http://0-www.jstor.org.wam.seals.ac.za/stable/41802455.

Clarence, S. and Dison, L. (eds) 2017. Writing Centres in Higher Education: Working in and across the disciplines. Stellenbosch: SUNPress.

Book chapters

Clarence, S. and van Heerden, M. (Forthcoming, 2019). Changing curriculum and teaching practice: a practical theory for academic staff development. Winberg, C., McKenna, S. and Wilmot, K. (eds) 2019. Building knowledge in higher education: Enhancing teaching and learning with LCT. London: Routledge. In press.

Clarence, S. 2018. ‘Understanding the student experience through the lens of academic staff development practice and research’. In Ashwin, P. and Case, J. (eds) 2018. Higher Education Pathways: South African Undergraduate Education and the Public Good. Bloemfontein: African Minds, 204-215.

Dison, L. and Clarence, S. ‘Introduction‘. In Clarence, S. and Dison, L. (eds) 2017. Writing Centres in Higher Education: Working in and across the disciplines. Stellenbosch: SUNPress, 5-16.

Clarence, S. 2017. ‘A relational approach to building knowledge through academic writing: Facilitating and reflecting on peer writing tutorials’. In Clarence, S. and Dison, L. (eds) 2017. Writing Centres in Higher Education: Working in and across the disciplines. Stellenbosch: SUNPress, 49-66.

Clarence, S. 2016. ‘Seeing yourself in a new light: Crossing the threshold to “researcher”’. In Frick, B., Motshoane, P., McMaster, C. and Murphy, C. (eds.). Postgraduate study in South Africa: Surviving and succeeding. Stellenbosch: SUN Press, 127-136.

Clarence, S. 2011. ‘Writing in the academy: collaborative writing development with students and lecturers at the UWC Writing Centre’. In Archer, A. and Richards, R. (eds.) 2011. Changing spaces: Writing Centres and access to Higher Education in South Africa. Stellenbosch: SUNMedia Press, 101-114.

Other research publications
Clarence, S. (ed). 2016. HIV/AIDS and the curriculum in higher education: creating spaces for social issues in teaching and learning. Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning, Rhodes University.

Clarence, S., Quinn, L. and Vorster, J-A. 2015. Assessment in higher education: Reframing traditional understandings and practices. Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning, Rhodes University.

Blog Posts


    I am currently closing off a three year project on ‘Enabling cumulative learning through teaching: using Legitimation Code Theory to analyse pedagogy and explore avenues for academic staff development’. This project has formed the bulk of my postdoctoral work since 2014, and will be ending in 2020, with the publication of a book written for academic teachers and educational developers in higher education.

    I am also participating as a team member in an NRF/ESRC joint project researching student experiences of higher education in South Africa. This is one of three streams in a larger project focused on understanding access and success in higher education between South Africa and the United Kingdom, and includes researchers from both countries. It is set to run from 2016-2018.

    Sherran Clarence

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