The Impact of the diversification of ALL services on the practices of learning advisors
Managing the changing demands for learning development and support in a financially constrained environment has required a shift in academic language and learning (ALL) practice and has placed new demands on the skills required of ALL professionals. This qualitative study investigated how the diversification of services delivered by a regional university’s ALL unit has impacted on the practices of learning advisors. In particular, the research project investigated how the key responsibilities of learning advisors have shifted; how managing a diverse suite of services has placed new demands on the professional skills required of learning advisors, and how discipline-based academic staff perceive the role of learning advisors in the context of contemporary higher education. The textual data revealed three dominant themes: the interdisciplinary relationships that learning advisors have established are key enablers of ALL practice; these relationships are facilitated by a clearly-articulated purpose for redefined ALL roles; and ALL practice is significantly constrained where ALL roles are misunderstood, or where economic arrangements are inadequate for effective ALL service provision. Despite evidence of some rigid practice traditions persisting, learning advisors are highly regarded across the academy as they work innovatively to respond to the diverse ALL needs of students, while supporting the professional development of academic staff to embed ALL development into the curriculum. Focus must now be on a cohesive approach to clearly communicating the purpose and diversity of ALL work and sharing the evidence of its impact.