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  • 1.
    Garcia-Yeste, Miguel
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Language, Literatures and Learning, English.
    Nordmark, Marie
    Dalarna University, School of Language, Literatures and Learning, Swedish.
    From “go to the writing centre” to “we can work on these things ourselves”: University lecturers’ changing views on Academic Literacies in the Social Sciences2024Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Over the last few decades, Higher Education institutions in Sweden and across the globe have been working on widened participation, sustainable development, and increased accessibility to university studies. The impact of these initiatives can be seen in today’s student populations, which are characterised by diversity and a wider range of academic skills. Other effects, however, include (a) concerns about lowering standards, (b) a discourse of deficit that focuses on the knowledge and skills students lack, and (c) a remedial approach to tackle said deficits. A common (mis)conception is that students lack language skills (e.g., language proficiency, writing skills) and that referring students to writing centres will solve the issue. However, research (e.g., Blåsjö, 2004; Barton, 2007; Shanahan & Shanahan, 2012; Wingate, 2012; Catell, 2013; Solheim et al. 2022) shows that integrating literacy efforts within disciplines is a more effective way to scaffold student learning. 

    This presentation reports on preliminary findings from an ongoing empirical study on teaching practices for the development of university student’s academic literacies in the social sciences. In particular, the focus is on the changing views of teaching staff on scaffolding and the role of academic literacies in the students’ learning journey. 

    The study rests on Academic Literacies (Lea & Street, 1998; Lillis, 2003; Lea, 2004; Eklund Heinonen et al., 2018) as its theoretical framework. The data consists of: (a) video-recorded ethnographic interviews with two lecturers in an undergraduate programme in the Social Sciences; (b) text analyses of, e.g., assignment instructions, feedback provided by lecturers, and samples of student writing; and (c) workshop-style sessions where the informants were given opportunities to explore hands-on strategies to scaffold the development of their students’ academic literacies.

    The results show a change from a discourse of deficit and a remedial approach to integrating academic literacies in the discipline. More specifically, the findings illustrate the lecturers’ changing views in relation to:

    1.    The students’ needs: From basic proficiency to disciplinary practices. 

    2.    The lecturers’ own abilities: From outsourcing to collaboration.

    3.    Teaching practices: Modelling, strategy use, and formative feedback emerge as useful scaffolding tools. 

    4.    The role of writing in the development of content knowledge.

    This study highlights the benefits of a collaboration between researchers at a writing centre and subject lecturers. The results show that applied linguistics can contribute to scaffolding the students’ learning journey by fostering engagement with disciplinary discourse to build disciplinary knowledge.

  • 2.
    Garcia-Yeste, Miguel
    et al.
    Dalarna University, School of Language, Literatures and Learning, English.
    Nordmark, Marie
    Dalarna University, School of Language, Literatures and Learning, Swedish.
    “The best way to explain it is to do it”: An ongoing empirical study focusing on how university teaching staff use modelling to help students develop their academic literacies2023Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Over the last few decades, Swedish Higher Education institutions have been working on widened participation (Högskolelagen, 1992, p.1434) as part of a wider effort towards sustainable development and increased accessibility to university studies (Agenda 2030). As a consequence, student populations today bring with them a wider range of academic skills. This, in turn, means that teaching staff across disciplines face a myriad of challenges. In our presentation, we discuss an ongoing empirical study on teaching practices for the development of university students’ academic literacies in the social sciences, with a particular focus on the role of modelling as a teaching strategy. Using Academic Literacies (Lea & Street, 1998; Lillis, 2003; Lea, 2004; Eklund Heinonen et al., 2018) as the theoretical framework, the study aims at (a) identifying challenges as experienced by teaching staff in the Social Sciences, and (b) carrying out a pedagogical intervention. The project, which is a collaboration between two lecturers from the Social Sciences and two researchers from the Language Support Unit, comprises four stages, namely: (1) a needs analysis to map the faculty’s existing teaching practices and to identify their challenges in relation to their students’ academic skills; (2) planning of a pedagogical intervention through a series of workshops; (3) implementation of the intervention; and (4) assessment of the project. So far, the findings reveal that modelling is a crucial teaching strategy in making tacit knowledge and task instructions explicit. The project is also expected to contribute to our understanding of (a) the challenges teaching staff experience in Swedish Higher Education today and (b) how to best support university students’ development of academic literacies. Furthermore, the project’s findings will be used to develop a course for professional development targeting teaching staff at our university.

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