Academic Language Support for At-Risk Students: REACHing Further

  • Ann Dashwood University of Southern Queensland
  • Jeong-Bae Son University of Southern Queensland
Keywords: Academic language support, at-risk students, retention, English for academic purposes, academic writing, online resources


In the Australian higher education context, academic language competence is one of the keys to success for students in their degree programs. Students with underdeveloped communication skills in the relevant discourse community are at risk of not meeting minimum standards in their university courses. REACH (Retention – English for Academic Completion Help) is a set of academic language modules embedding relevant language strategies into course content related to course assessment. It was developed at an Australian university for students at risk of not continuing their participation through failure in a first-year course. This article outlines the REACHing Further stage of the REACH project and presents data collected for part of the evaluation of the REACH approach while discussing the distinctive contextual academic language support in the academic disciplines. REACHing Further increased accessibility to the REACH modules online and provided an online facilitator. This article reports that those students who were engaged with the REACH modules generally valued the support and expressed the view that they would recommend others to participate in future. Although the overall engagement by the identified target group was low compared with the mainstream students in the courses selected, examiners and tutors of the target courses indicated that the REACH modules were well linked to the course materials and suggested that students should use them more actively. It is recommended that a more interactive, systematic and personalised approach needs to be attractively presented to the target groups and individuals while also researching effective ways of offering academic language support.

Author Biographies

Ann Dashwood, University of Southern Queensland
Senior Lecturer AppliedLinguistics/TESOL
Jeong-Bae Son, University of Southern Queensland
School of Linguistics, Adult and Specialist Education , Associate Professor
How to Cite
DashwoodA., & SonJ.-B. (2017). Academic Language Support for At-Risk Students: REACHing Further. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 11(1), A58-A70. Retrieved from
Research Articles