Embedding academic literacy: Cooperation, collaboration and team teaching in three content courses

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 39: The Shape of Higher Education

July, 2016, 391 pages
Published by
Melissa Davis & Allan Goody

There has been increasing interest in enhancing undergraduates’ written communication skills especially in relation to facilitating these academic language skills within the context of academic knowledge development. The notion of embedding best describes these collaborative efforts between subject and English language specialists based on the belief that learning to understand and write articulately about a subject is inseparable from acquiring subject knowledge itself. This paper traces three stages (Blake & Plates, 2010) in the subject and language specialist partnership in three content modules: cooperation, collaboration and team teaching in two engineering and one science course. It investigates challenges in the re-integration of the fields of academic language learning and academic development (Percy, 2014) to examine conditions facilitating or hampering learning. Students’ perception of its usefulness is analysed. Using a combination of computational linguistic tools such as Coh-Metrix (Graesser, McNamara & Kulikowich, 2011) and qualitative surveys, the study presents impact indicators which suggest that these initiatives are effective in improving the competency of and confidence in students’ academic literacy skills, especially in the organization of information in assigned tasks. Coh-Metrix analysis shows improvement indicators in the areas of content and organisation, especially in how relevant content knowledge is woven logically together.

Keywords: academic literacy, embedding, impact