From Theory to Practice- Selected papers from the 2013 ICLHE Conference
Edited By Robert Wilkinson and Mary Louise Walsh
Discipline-specific academic literacy and academic integration
Abstract Academic under-preparedness has a detrimental effect on success in higher education. We need to take a critical stance on how to support students’ integration, so they confidently use the academic community’s currency: norms, standards, procedures and linguistic forms constituting academic discourse. We aim to contribute to a better understanding of the process of academic acculturation by reviewing the debate regarding the nature of academic literacy. We address the question whether academic literacy (linguistic ability) is more successfully acquired embedded in an academic discipline taught by disciplinary specialists or taught by language experts in a more generic way. Based on 32 interviews we conclude that generic and subject-specific academic literacy approaches are not mutually exclusive and occur in varying combinations, order and at different points in a student’s career. Support should embrace both discipline-specific and generic academic literacy to empower students in their quest for genuine acculturation and integration.
Keywords: discipline-specific academic literacy; academic integration; academic acculturation; South Africa
Academic under-preparedness of first-year students in higher education (HE) and its impact on throughput rates are an international concern well documented in the literature (see, among others, Kuh, Kinzie, Buckley, Bridges, & Hayek, 2007; Brinkworth, McCann, Matthews, & Nordström, 2009; Darlaston-Jones et al., 2003; Foxcroft & Stumpf, 2005; Scott, 2009; Scott, Yeld, & Hendry, 2007; Slonimsky & Shalem, 2005; Smith, 2004; Van de Poel & Gasiorek, 2012a+b; Van Dyk, 2005; Van Dyk, 2010; Van Dyk & Coetzee-Van Rooy, 2012; Van...
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