Literacies: Tertiary contexts
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139
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In at least one fundamental respect, our universities are failing to clarify what they expect of students and what students and other stakeholders can expect of them. This failure concerns communication skills. The present paper identifies particular problems of academic literacy and proposes a coordinated institutional approach to their solution. Standards of oral and written communication among those who enter universities are often deplored by academics. Standards of oral and written communication among those who graduate are often deplored by employers. What evidence do we have about actual competencies at various levels of the higher education system? What are the practical implications for curriculum, pedagogy and assessment? How significant are cross-cultural aspects of literacy in academic settings? How distinctive are the literacy demands of different fields of study? Such questions must be explored if universities are serious about devising an appropriate framework of institutional policies to support improved literacy practices. This paper draws in part on a recently completed multi-university research project funded by the Australian Research Council on "Framing Student Literacy". Its theoretical background includes concepts of framing, particularly as developed by Tannen (1993) and MacLachlan and Reid (1994).


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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