Embedding the Unit Specific Model across the disciplines to develop academic language and literacies, and improve student learning

  • Anna Maria Menicucci-Maldoni

    Student thesis: By Publication


    As universities continue to enrol students with greater diversity in their profiles and capacities,academic quality and performance may be compromised due to a lack of familiarity with key academic language and literacies required to succeed in the tertiary environment. While universities have long offered academic support through adjunct models of learning,over the last decade the literature has called for a shift away from generic approaches to Academic Language and Learning (ALL) provision,which focus on a deficit model of learning support,to more collaborative and integrated approaches,which focus on a discipline- or faculty-based model for all students. While it is now considered best practice to embed the development of academic language and literacies within disciplinary contexts,this approach has not been commonly understood nor applied widely across the university sector in a systematic manner. This thesis presents a range of approaches to embedding academic language and literacies development within disciplinary subjects. Through the implementation of different iterations of models of ALL support presented across a series of published articles,I provide a chronological and theoretical account of my own journey,which in many ways reflects the shifting trends in the field. This journey begins with an adjunct model of support addressing reading instruction for international students and ends with my own unique model of embedding – the Unit Specific Model. This is an embedded,integrated and team-taught model that champions a collaborative and cross-disciplinary approach to teaching and learning within academic disciplines and represents a model of best practice distinct from much of the embedding work discussed in the literature. The thesis consists of a review of the literature that underpins embedding practices across the tertiary sector; an exegesis of the research,which explicates the evolution of the model; five published journal articles exploring the effectiveness of embedding different iterations of the model within disciplinary contexts across both undergraduate and postgraduate programs; and a concluding chapter. The thesis presents an argument for a reconceptualisation of teaching and learning practices in relation to the provision of ALL centred on a developmental rather than remedial philosophy. It recommends that universities adopt a system-wide approach to the development of academic language and literacies across the sector,where content and literacy staff are repositioned as relevant to all students and academic staff,and which would lead to better outcomes for all students within the university context.
    Date of Award1 Jan 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMisty Adoniou (Supervisor), Kate Wilson (Supervisor) & Tracey Bretag (Supervisor)

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