On paper, in person, and online: A multi-literacies framework for university teaching

  • Andrew Miller Flinders University
Keywords: multiliteracies, academic literacies, university literacy


Given the complexities and multimodalities of contemporary universities, students need access to an ever-increasing range of literacies to succeed and flourish. They need the academic acumen to read, view, compose, and perform a range of literacies in a range of contexts for a range of audiences and purposes (e.g. on paper, in person, and online). To do this students need to be conversant and confident in a range of literacies applicable to universities and applicable to broader social, cultural, and vocational contexts outside university. Our ‘multi-literacies’ framework identifies six literacy domains necessary for successful transition and success in the university context. These include: (1) institutional literacies; (2) digital literacies; (3) social and cultural literacies; (4) critical literacies; (5) language literacies; and (6) academic literacies. In our experience, students new to university are often ill-equipped to fully engage with the university system. In response, the framework endeavours to make explicit many of the literacy requirements that have been assumed, implied, or invisible altogether. Ultimately, this is about giving students access to the cultural capital and practical knowhow needed to succeed in a ‘widening-participation’ era. Such an approach should increase retention and completion rates and give ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ student cohorts a more empowering education experience. So far, despite widespread support for our framework, implementation has proved difficult. Moving beyond a skills-and-drills model of literacy to a critically engaged multi-literacies approach will require all stakeholders to genuinely reform teaching theories and practices for meaningful change to occur.

Author Biography

Andrew Miller, Flinders University
Dr Andrew Miller Lecturer / Academic Skills Advisor Student Learning Centre Flinders University
How to Cite
MillerA. (2015). On paper, in person, and online: A multi-literacies framework for university teaching. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 9(2), A19-A31. Retrieved from https://journal.aall.org.au/index.php/jall/article/view/359
Research Articles