The proof of the pudding … analysing student written texts for evidence of a successful literacy intervention


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In recent decades, the contextualisation of academic literacy practices through in-discipline initiatives has become more common in Australian universities (Harris & Ashton, 2011), and such approaches are encouraged by the Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations’ Good Practice Principles for English Language (DEEWR, 2009). Although this approach makes sense to those of us who work in academic language and literacy (ALL) contexts, it can be difficult to demonstrate the effectiveness of the interventions, and studies so far have often relied on student satisfaction or analysis of course pass rates. This paper reports on a study which took a different approach. We analysed students’ written texts for evidence of the effectiveness of an in-discipline literacy intervention in a first year management course. A convenience sample of nine student essays was de-identified and examined for evidence of how effectively students applied the academic writing skills and conventions highlighted through an in-discipline intervention. Each of the essays was qualitatively analysed using a discourse analysis framework which reflected the intended learning outcomes of the ALL intervention. Although the student essays bear the hallmarks of novice writers, and in particular we found that the students struggled to use complex management theory effectively to build an argument, the students all demonstrated their ability to emulate the genre required in a management essay. Our analysis suggests that the students in this study did indeed benefit from the intervention, and contributes another perspective to the already strong body of research supporting in-discipline embedding of academic literacy development
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-253
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Academic Language and Learning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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