The 'ideal' appproach to Learning Development: a model for fostering improved literacy and learning outcomes for students.

Year: 1998

Author: Skillen, Jan, Percy, Alisa, Merten, Margaret, Trivett, Neil

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

An increasingly accepted viewpoint in tertiary education today is that the diverse student population entering university at first year level requires support with the transition process from previous education contexts to that of tertiary education. While Learning Centres were initially developed to assist that transition, the support they offered was limited: it was remedial in the sense of 'fixing-up' the students who were diagnosed (either by themselves or their lecturers) as needing 'help'; it was inequitable, assisting only a very small proportion of the students population; and it was generic in that the learning support was offered outside of the disciplines being studied.
A newer model of assisting students with the transition process, which we call the 'IDEAL' approach, takes a less remedial, more developmental approach. It recognises that all students will need to develop new or more sophisticated academic skills suitable for their new environment and that the most effective way of assisting students is to integrate instruction in both generic and discipline-specific academic skills inside the curriculum. The model revolves around collaboration between discipline and learning development academics in the production of learning materials tailored to the needs of the curriculum and/or the provision of subject-based workshops that are team taught by staff from the discipline and the learning development unit.

This paper will detail this IDEALL approach to learning development (Integrated Development of English language and Academic Literacy and Learning) and will present data from two case studies of integration (in two very different disciplines) which suggest that this model can substantially increase the learning outcomes achieved by students.