Literacies: Tertiary contexts
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


Australian university students are characterised in some quarters, and by employer groups especially, as lacking a high facility with literacy skills. But what literacy skills do students actually need for tertiary study in Australia today? What expectations do students and teachers have about learning the particular literacy skills needed to acquire, evaluate and convey information in their discipline? And to what extent are traditional notions of the culture of learning in Australian universities as ‘critically active’ reflected in practice? This paper compares course requirements and student reading practices in a selection of units in Business, Engineering, Health Science and Social Science and the findings challenge prevailing ideas of what constitutes ‘tertiary literacy’ in Australian universities.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Ballard, B. & Clanchy, J.
    (1991) Teaching students from overseas: a brief guide for lecturers and supervisors. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Ballard, B.
    (1995) How critical is critical thinking?Paper given atthe Language in Development Conference, Denpasar, Bali, April10–12.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Becher, T.
    (1989) Academic tribes and territories. Milton Keynes: The Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Biggs, J.
    (1987) Student approaches to learning and studying. Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Bizzell, P.
    (1992) Academic discourse and critical consciousness. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Clanchy, J. & Ballard, B.
    (1981) Generic skills in the context of higher education. Higher Education Research and Development, 14 (2), 55–166.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Collins, J.
    (1993) The troubled text’: history and language in American university basic writing programs. In P. Freebody & A. Welch (Eds.) Knowledge, culture and power: international perspectives on literacy as policy and pedagogy. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Cortazzi, M.
    (1990) Cultural and educational expectations in the language classroom. In B. Harrison (Ed.) ELT Documents 1321. Culture and the language classroom (pp.54–65). London: Modern English Publications and the British Council.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Davis, L.
    (1994) "Doing English": student transitions from high school to university English. English in Australia, No.110, December, 3–18.
    [Google Scholar]
    DEET/OECD (1993) The transition from elite to mass higher education. Conference Proceedings, 15-18 June. Canberra: AGPS.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Entwistle, N. & Ramsden, P.
    (1983) Undertstanding student learning. London: Croom Helm.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Gibbs, G.
    (1992) Research into student learning. In B. Smith & S. Brown (Eds.) Research into teaching and learning in higher education. London: Staff Educational Development Association.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Higher Education Council (HEC)
    Higher Education Council (HEC) (1992) Higher education: achieving quality. Canberra: NBEET/AGPS.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Illing, D.
    (1994) Employers reinforce calls for improved communication skills in graduates. Campus ReviewJan/Feb, 2.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Kalantzis, M.
    (1993) Cultural diversity and higher education. In A. Barthel (Ed.) Cultural diversity in higher education. Sydney: University of Technology Sydney.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Kember, D.
    (1996) The intention to both memorise and understand: another approach to learning?Higher Education, 31, 341–354. doi: 10.1007/BF00128436
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00128436 [Google Scholar]
  17. Liston, C. B.
    (1997)  Graduate attributes survey (GAS): results of a pilot study. Paper presented atthe Australasian Association of Institutional Research, Eighth International Conference, November 1997.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. MacLachlan, G. & Reid, I.
    (1994) Framing and interpretation. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Maclellan, E.
    (1997) Reading to learn. Studies in Higher Education, 22 (3), 284. doi: 10.1080/03075079712331380896
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079712331380896 [Google Scholar]
  20. Mclnnis, C & James, R.
    (1995) First year on campus: diversity in the initial experiences of Australian undergraduates. Report for the Committee for the Advancement of University Teaching. Canberra: AGPS.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Nightingale, P.
    (1986) Improving student writing. Green Guide No.4. Canberra: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. (1988) Language and learning: a bibliographical essay. In G. Taylor , B. Ballard , V. Beasley , H.K. Bock , J. Clanchy & P. Nightingale (Eds.) Literacy by degrees (pp.65–81). London: Society for Research in Higher Education.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. (1991) Language performance of tertiary students. Responding to literacy needs: implications for teacher educators and training consultants. Conference Proceedings. Queensland Board of Teacher Registration.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. No time to understand courses: graduates
    No time to understand courses: graduates (1997) The Australian, July 16, 33.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Ramsden, P. & Entwistle, N.
    (1981) Effects of academic departments in students’ approaches to studying. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 63, 276–280.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Reid, I , Kirkpatrick, A. & Mulligan, D.
    (1998) Framing student literacy: cross-cultural aspects of English communication skills in Australian university settings – framing reading. Sydney: National Centre for English Language Teaching and Research and Centre for Literacy, Culture and Language Pedagogy, Curtin University of Technology.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Reid, I.
    (1997) Disciplinary literacy and cultural perspectives on student literacy. In Z. Golebiowski & H. Borland (Eds.) Academic communication across disciplines and cultures. Selected proceedings ofthe First National Conference on Tertiary Literacy: Research & Practice, Volume2 (pp.1–11). Melbourne: Victoria University of Technology.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Scollon, R.
    (1994) As a matter of fact: the changing ideology of authorship and responsibility in discourse. World Englishes, 13 (1), 33–46. doi: 10.1111/j.1467‑971X.1994.tb00281.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-971X.1994.tb00281.x [Google Scholar]
  29. (1996) Intercultural communication and ethnography - why? and why not?Paper presented atthe Knowledge and Discourse Conference, University of Hong Kong, 18-21 June.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Shils, E.
    (1997) The calling of education: the academic ethic and other essays on higher education. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. doi: 10.7208/chicago/9780226753409.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226753409.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  31. Smeby, J. C.
    (1996) Disciplinary differences in university teaching. Studies in Higher Education, 21 (1), 69–79. doi: 10.1080/03075079612331381467
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079612331381467 [Google Scholar]
  32. Spires, H. , Huntley-Johnston, L. & Huffman, L.
    (1993) Developing a critical stance toward text through reading, writing and speaking. Journal of Reading, 37 (2), 114–122.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Taylor, G.
    (1988) The literacy of knowing: content and form in students’ English. In G. Taylor , B. Ballard , V. Beasley , H.K. Bock , J. Clanchy & P. Nightingale Literacy by degrees (pp.53–64). London: Society for Research in Higher Education.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Taylor, G. , West, L. & Nightingale, P.
    (1987) The writing of first year history undergraduates in 1974 and 1984: report to the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission. Melbourne: Higher Education Research & Advisory Committee, Monash University.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Taylor, G.
    (1978) Coming to terms with English expression in the university. Vestes, 21 (3/4), 34–37.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Volet, S. , Renshaw, P. & Tietzel, K.
    (1994) A short-term longitudinal investigation of cross-cultural differences in study approaches using Biggs’ SPQ. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 64, 301–318. doi: 10.1111/j.2044‑8279.1994.tb01104.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8279.1994.tb01104.x [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error