Participatory Parity and Epistemological Access in the Extended Curriculum Programmes

James Windsor Garraway


The article examines students’ engagement in university classrooms in South Africa. Of interest is the extent to which students experience some measure of parity of participation in these engagements. Such “participatory parity” broadly refers to students being able to act on a more or less equal footing with their peers and lecturers. Though much has been written about student engagement and its educational value, such engagement is not typically examined through Fraser’s parity lens. Such parity matters because students are able to experience themselves as valued participants in the social world of the university. However, as what is being discussed is the university classroom, parity of participation in itself is not the only outcome, it is also gaining access to disciplinary knowledge through such participation, or what is referred to here as epistemological access. In order to examine the nexus between participatory parity and epistemological access a methodology for examining participation drawn from activity theory is mobilised. The paper then concludes with reflecting on the usefulness of using this theory and also the usefulness of promoting participatory parity in classroom engagement.  


participatory parity; epistemological access; activity theory

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