A scoping study of academic language and learning in the health sciences at Australian universities

  • Ben Fenton-Smith Griffith University
  • Rena Frohman Queensland University of Technology
Keywords: academic language and learning, health sciences, CALD students, international students


This paper investigates academic language and learning (ALL) activities within faculties of health sciences in Australian universities, based on responses to an online questionnaire by 25 ALL educators working in this area. The paper responds to growing calls for a deeper understanding of current ALL practices in higher education (Chanock, 2011; Dunworth, 2013; James & Maxwell, 2012) and specifically aims to fill the knowledge gap in relation to ALL and health sciences, an area that has never previously been the subject of a comprehensive overview. The scoping study addresses three research questions: 1) Which areas of health sciences are most active in addressing students’ ALL needs? 2) What are the most common strategies for addressing students’ ALL needs in health sciences? and 3) What is the professional profile of ALL practitioners in health sciences? Principal findings include the following: nursing and medicine were the disciplines most actively engaged with ALL; the most common pedagogical ALL strategies were those that did not encroach on credit-bearing class time (e.g. voluntary one-to-one consultations); writing was privileged over other language skills in ALL curricula; few ALL professionals have previous experience in the health sciences; and the coordination of working relationships with discipline academics was the greatest challenge for ALL professionals.

Author Biographies

Ben Fenton-Smith, Griffith University
Lecturer, School of Languages and Linguistics
Rena Frohman, Queensland University of Technology
International Student Services
How to Cite
Fenton-SmithB., & FrohmanR. (2013). A scoping study of academic language and learning in the health sciences at Australian universities. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 7(1), A61-A79. Retrieved from https://journal.aall.org.au/index.php/jall/article/view/253
Research Articles