The impact of an embedded academic literacy approach on international student transition to an Australian university

Year: 2021

Author: Pember, Edward, O'Neill, Ruth

Type of paper: Individual Paper

This presentation aims to share research in Higher Education (HE) from an Australian university. It focusses on international student transition to the university and aligns with the CALD education SIG. The research promotes awareness of CALD related issues in the education sector through evaluation of an embedded approach to teaching academic literacies in HE. It aligns with the conference theme as it shows the measures taken by the institution provides an holistic approach to improving international student academic literacies, which positively impacts on their transition to the Australian university system.International students face many obstacles to their academic success, including a lack of academic literacy skills (Arkoudis et al., 2018; Gunawardena, 2017). Embedding literacy skill tuition into the curriculum, through explicit, activity-based sessions, taught by specialist academic learning advisers, is the most effective way to address this deficit (Malkin & Chanock, 2018). Embedded sessions are designed by academic literacy experts in collaboration with the teaching staff and focus on assignment tasks to maintain relevance and engagement. The embedded intervention in this study has been operating since 2015 and integrates into a core unit of a Masters in IT. The intervention was run over four hours, in the early weeks of study and was specifically designed to improve students’ academic writing, research and critical reading skills.Although there is much literature on embedding academic literacies in HE, there is little specifically on international students’ perceptions of embedded literacy interventions. This research addresses that gap and provides findings on international students’ experiences and perceptions of an embedded intervention at an Australian university.The study uses a mixed method design, examining the intervention over three terms in 2018. Students completing a survey before (N = 539) and after the embedded sessions (N = 339) and both inferential and descriptive statistical analysis was conducted on this data. Qualitative analysis in the form of focus groups (N = 12) was also conducted to further explain and investigate student perceptions.Key finding show that students believed the intervention increased their ability and confidence in their literacy skills. Students found the sessions useful and identified a student-centred approach, variety of resources and ‘forced’ participation as key factors. Recommendations from students include a greater focus on language and grammar.Future research in this area should include a diversity of disciplines and, as this study only considered post-graduate students, a comparative study including undergraduate students could also prove informative.