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Discipline-specific versus generic academic literacy intervention for university education: An issue of impact?

G Butler


In a context where progressively more underprepared students gain access to higher education, South African universities are obligated to offer appropriate support to such students that may reduce their risk in being successful with their studies. Part of this underpreparedness is the large proportion of students who enter universities with inadequate levels of academic literacy (AL). As a point of departure, this article investigates the ways in which AL is defined in the literature, and then continues to explore the nature of AL interventions at South African universities with specific reference to generic and discipline-specific proposals for such  interventions. It further discusses the apparent trend for interventions to
increasingly situate AL practices in the context of the discourses of specific
academic disciplines. Subsequently, the proposed benefits of these approaches are considered, which are then followed by a discussion of the kinds of evidence that are reported with regard to the impact of interventions (both generic and discipline-specific) on the academic literacy practices of students.


Keywords: Academic literacy, discipline-specific AL, generic AL, academic language support, academic language proficiency, English for Specific Purposes, English for Academic Purposes, academic writing, academic reading, Contentbased Instruction, Language Across the Curriculum, Writing Across the Curriculum, genre-based approaches, higher education, impact

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2958-9320
print ISSN: 0259-9570