Acquiring academic literacy: a case of first-year extended degree programme students

  • Susan van Schalkwyk
  • Eli Bitzer
  • Christa van der Walt

Abstract

The way in which academic literacy is acquired is described in the work of many researchers, some of whom speak of students in higher education serving an apprenticeship during which they become acculturated into the discourse of the discipline. But often weaker firstyear students will miss the discipline-specific codes that characterise the discourse, making the process of acquisition more difficult. In this article we report on the findings of an in-depth study that explored the experiences of a specific group of under-prepared first-year students on an extended degree programme in order to determine how they sought to acquire academic literacy – this particularly in view of their having been exposed to a dedicated academic literacy module as part of the programme offering. What emerged was an understanding of students, particularly less prepared students, having to negotiate a series of boundaries in order to assume membership of the larger academic community, on the one hand, as well as the different disciplines, each with its own conventions and discourse, on the other. In this context, the potential of an aligned and integrated academic literacy module to enable such negotiation would appear to have relevance.

Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2009, 27(2): 189–201

Author Biographies

Susan van Schalkwyk
Centre for Teaching and Learning, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Stellenbosch 7602, South Africa
Eli Bitzer
Department of Curriculum Studies, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Stellenbosch 7602, South Africa
Christa van der Walt
Department of Curriculum Studies, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Stellenbosch 7602, South Africa
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1727-9461
print ISSN: 1607-3614