Journal of Academic Language and Learning, Vol 5, No 2 (2011)

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Embedding and integrating language and academic skills: An innovative approach

Anne Jillian Harris, Joanna Ashton

Abstract


A growing body of research into the provision of learning support suggests that good practice is exemplified by the integration of language and academic skills (LAS) into specifically targeted core discipline units. There are many reasons offered: that contextualised support picks up weaker students who commonly fail to self-select for voluntary workshops; that students favour contextualised workshops over general workshops, often perceiving the latter to have little relevance to them; that the number of students in Australian universities with English as an additional language (EAL) has increased markedly over the past decade; and that in some units the delivery of contextualised support serves to “up-skill” academic staff. The authors of this paper argue that integrated learning support makes good use of limited resources for all stakeholders: discipline academics, learning advisors and students. The paper explores the experiences of these stakeholders in a core management unit of the MBA at Edith Cowan University over a period of three semesters. It outlines the various tasks involved in this innovative embedding project both in terms of team meetings for the discipline staff and learning advisor, and class time allocated to LAS development. It also evaluates the benefits through student feedback and interviews with members of the embedding team. The authors conclude that the approach taken in this project was effective in supporting incremental, discipline-specific LAS development for students and in raising awareness among discipline teaching staff of the importance of LAS development.

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