I am currently working as an independent researcher, 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. 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) (forthcoming).
  • 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. 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, 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., & 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. (In review)
Book chapters
  • Clarence, S. 2017. ‘The role of writing tutorials in helping students to connect the conceptual and contextual in their writing’. In Clarence, S. and Dison, L. (eds) 2016. Writing Centres in Higher Education: Working In and Across the Disciplines. Stellenbosch: SUNPress (in review).
  • 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.
Conference papersBook reviews
  • Karl Maton, Susan Hood & Suellen Shay (Eds). 2015. Knowledge-building: Educational studies in Legitimation Code Theory. Innovation in Education and Teaching International, 53(6), 671-672. 
  • Karl Maton. 2014. Knowledge and Knowers. Towards a realist theory of education. London: Routledge. Journal of Education, 60, 167-174.
  • Jennifer M. Case. 2013. Researching Student Learning in Higher Education. A Social Realist Approach.  London: Routledge. Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning, 3(1), 85-88.
  • Amanda Gouws (ed.) 2005. (Un)thinking citizenship. Feminist Debates in Contemporary South Africa. Aldershot, Ashgate. Theoria, 117, December 2008, 134-137.
  • Luciana Ricciutelli, Angela Miles and Margaret H. McFadden (eds). 2005. Feminist Politics, Activism and Vision. Local and Global Challenges. London and New York, Zed Books/Toronto, Inanna Publications and Education Inc. International Feminist Journal of Politics, 8:1, March 2006, 153-154.
Other research publications
  • 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.
  • Clarence, S. 2014[2016]. Learning in higher education: an introductory guide. Directorate of Teaching and Learning, University of the Western Cape.


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 December 2017, 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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