Research Focus and Publications


My personal research foci are: Language teaching knowledge;  Language across the curriculum;  teacher education curriculum design (traditional and distance education systems) and higher education teaching, learning and quality assurance

Through my research, I seek to understand how teachers construct knowledge and develop competences for teaching. I draw my orientation from knowing sciences positioned within the socio-cultural and cognitive perspectives. My current research focus is two-fold. First, I seek to understand how pre-service teachers build their teaching dispositions during preparation and from their own experiences. To capture the rich, in-depth portraits and nuances of teacher preparation programmes, my research sites are both in traditional and distance education modes of delivery in national and international contexts. Following this research focus, I examine the preparation of teachers in institutions of higher education by specifically concentrating on how they construct teaching dispositions by engaging in critical thinking, reflective practice and problem solving. The working title of this project is “A comparative study of how pre-service teachers develop dispositions for teaching: tales from selected universities”.

Secondly, from an orientation that teacher preparation that only includes general pedagogy, content and pedagogical content knowledges is inadequate without proficiency in the language of learning and teaching (LoLT), the second strand of my research foci aims at exploring how pre-service and in-service teachers construct their language-across the curriculum knowledge during preparation and in the practice of teaching. To achieve this aim, I lead a research project, ” Exploring the preparation and experiences of teachers using English across the curriculum: An interdisciplinary approach” funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) Thuthuka Research Grant. Through this research focus, l aim to explore best practices on how both pre-service and in-service teachers could be prepared to be language teachers across the curriculum. This means, for example, helping Geography, History, Mathematics, Technology, Life Sciences or Physical Sciences pre-service and in-service teachers to effectively infuse language structures in teaching their content knowledge. To attend to the context and uniqueness in which teaching and learning takes place, the research sites in this study are drawn from different universities and classrooms across South Africa.


Mpofu, N. & Maphalala, M.C., 2018, ‘A comprehensive model for assessing student teachers’ professional competence through an integrated curriculum approach’, The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa 14(2. doi: td.v14i2.486  Available at: here

Maphalala, M.C. and Mpofu, N., 2018. Embedding values in the South African curriculum: By design or default? South African Journal of Education, 38(3): 1–11. doi:  Available here.

Mpofu, N. and De Jager, L.  2018. Exploring beginner teachers’ sources of knowledge for teaching Literature in ESL classrooms. English Teaching & Learning, 42 (1): 1-17. doi:  Available  here

Maphalala, M.C. & Mpofu, N. 2017. Reflections on the supervision of postgraduate research: the students’ voices in an Open Distance Learning (ODL) context. Progressio: South African Journal for Open and Distance Learning Practice, 39 (1): 109-125.  doi: Available  here

Mpofu, N., 2017. What Can We Still Offer? Understanding Student Support in Distance Education  Teacher Preparation Programs. Progressio: South African Journal for Open and Distance   Learning Practice, 38 (2):33-46. DOI: Available here

Mpofu, N. & Nthontho, M., 2017. Connecting the dots: Exploring teaching dispositions in the South African teacher curriculums. Gender and Behaviour (Southern Society for Education  Special issue), 15(4), 10290–10303. Available here

Mpofu, N. and de Jager, L., 2017. Teaching from the heart: exploring beginner teachers’ attitudinal     knowledge. Journal for Language Teaching, 51(1): 201–217. Available here

Mpofu N and Maphalala, MC 2017. Fostering critical thinking in initial teacher education curriculums:   a comprehensive literature review. Gender and Behaviour, 15 (2), 9342–9351. Available here 

Mpofu, N. 2010. Influence of knowledge of secular English Literature on the attitude of students toward the Adventist philosophy of education: a case study. Solusi University Research  Journal (SURJ) 7:32-44.


Mpofu,  N. Reflecting on ESL student teachers’ practice through critical incidents.

Maphalala, MC and Mpofu N. Embedding values in the South African Curriculum: by Design or  Default?

Maphalala, M.C. & Mpofu N. Exploring the teachers’ experiences of implementing a high school curriculum: A South African view.

Mpofu N & Maphalala, M.C. A comprehensive model of assessing student teachers’  professional competence through an integrated curriculum approach.


Mpofu, N. 2016. Exploring beginner teachers’ knowledge in the teaching of English literature (Unpublished PhD Thesis). Pretoria: University of Pretoria. Available at:

Mpofu, N. 2017. Distance learning: The five qualities student teachers need to succeed. The Conversation (Africa), 5 November 2017. Available at:

Mpofu, N and DeJager, L. 2018. A shock to the system: how new teachers in Zimbabwe learn to do their jobs, 23 May 2018. Available at: