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Friday, July 5 • 10:45am - 11:25am
Challenging paradigms: Literacy interventions in tertiary environments

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As the number of international student enrolments in the Australian higher education sector continues to increase, institutions are being forced to consider the barriers to learning faced by this cohort of students. Although language proficiency (or deficiency) in English, (as the language of learning and teaching) is a frequently cited barrier to success for international students, the issue is more complex. Students come from a variety of cultures and educational systems, bringing with them a range of dispositions, and are expected to engage with new discipline-specific discourse communities whose expectations, cultures and concepts are often tacit in nature. To enable the full participation of international students, Monash University has invested in a pilot program delivering language resources closely aligned to curriculum and assessment. Entitled Communicate for Success, the pilot offers specialised English language support through predominantly online resources that provide students with engaging and purposeful learning opportunities in communicating through English. It aims at supporting students in meeting high academic standards whilst also, it is hoped, developing their communication skills and social capabilities allowing them to productively function within the Australian context and prepare them for success in their professional lives.

While there is shared agreement on the need to assist students, there are different views on the ways in which this can best be achieved. Understanding what drives the competing views does not have a straightforward answer, particularly as there are limited opportunities to fully explore all of the challenges and their underlying principles. This paper draws on LCT’s multidimensional conceptual framework as a means of generating a common language for a more sophisticated understanding of what counts as legitimate and what does not, and who gets to decide that and when they get to do so. The dimension of Semantics offers a potential way to understand tension between approaches that are context-dependent within a particular unit or freely-floating to allow transferability of resources across units and disciplines. Specialisation allows comparison of the organising principles underlying the pilot with those underlying the key units selected for support. Autonomy sheds light on why key players may react differently to proposals based on their beliefs about the role and application of the pilot. In this way, the paper explores how an LCT framework can be employed to best encourage informed discussions about the challenges and clarification of ways in which literacy interventions of this nature can succeed.

Friday July 5, 2019 10:45am - 11:25am SAST
Room B45

Attendees (7)