How managers influence learning advisers’ communications with lecturers and students
Learning Advisors (LAs) are uniquely well-placed to discover what lies behind students' difficulties with reading and writing for their discipline subjects, and these insights have driven their efforts since the 1990s to establish collaborations with discipline lecturers in order to develop academic literacies within their subjects. To determine the effects of university management decisions on LAs’ ability to communicate with students and discipline lecturers so as to fulfil these goals, Academic Language and Learning (ALL) advisors across the Australian higher education community were invited to participate in an anonymous online survey of six questions relating to how their management encourages or discourages collaboration across the university. Our research questions asked how respondents have experienced effects of management decisions, whether helpful or obstructive, in relation to their communications with students and lecturers. The survey findings indicate that most ALL staff have been encouraged to collaborate with students and discipline lecturers but that the support from management to facilitate this teamwork was mixed. The reasons cited were incompetency and micromanagement, ongoing re-structures, poor location of services, lack of understanding of the nature of ALL work, and lack of priority for collaborative processes. The results indicate that ALL support could be more effectively located and integrated into university systems, preferably with managers recruited from ALL backgrounds, in order to enable and sustain a virtuous circle of communication with students and lecturers.