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Association for Academic Language and Learning Conference: November 29-30, 2007 Between Scylla and Charybdis: Embedded or Generic Academic Literacy Development? Dr Chad Habel Student Learning Centre Chad.habel@flinders.edu.au Scylla and Charybdis

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association for academic language and learning conference november 29 30 2007
Association for Academic Language and Learning Conference: November 29-30, 2007

Between Scylla and Charybdis:Embedded or Generic Academic Literacy Development?

Dr Chad Habel

Student Learning Centre

Chad.habel@flinders.edu.au

scylla and charybdis
Scylla and Charybdis

Next came Charybdis, who swallows the sea in a whirlpool, then spits it up again. Avoiding this we skirted the cliff where Scylla exacts her toll. Each of her six slavering maws grabbed a sailor and wolfed him down.

Homer, The Odyssey, Book Twelve

scylla the faculty based model
Scylla: The Faculty-Based Model
  • Scylla was the multi-headed monster residing among the cliffs – it devoured six of Odysseus’ crew before his ship made it through
  • A faculty-based model may pick off individual AALL advisers in a similar way, dispersing them through a strategy of decentralisation
charybdis the centralised model
Charybdis: The Centralised Model
  • Charybdis, the whirlpool monster who reflects a centralised model, may put all its sailors in one boat
  • A single generic skills unit could be seen as more vulnerable to economic pressures or restructuring (Monash example…)
a false dilemma
A false dilemma
  • This division into two exclusive options is a false dilemma: by the force of its model it obscures other possibilities
  • In fact there are all sorts of options between these two models
  • Ultimately an organisation or University will need to identify which is the most appropriate for its own needs: there is no single best practice
different types of embedding
Different types of “Embedding”
  • Organisational embedding: structural position of AALL unit or advisor in relation to University and Faculties
  • Embedding of delivery: delivery of programs are delivered from within a Faculty or Course
restructuring
Restructuring
  • The fear of restructuring may place AALL advisors in a siege mentality: a centralised unit may be dispersed amongst Faculties, or different Faculty-based advisors may be drawn together under one banner
  • This type of organisational change may be confronting and difficult
spokes and hubs model
“Spokes and Hubs” Model
  • The “hub” is a centralised unit co-ordinating programs across the University
  • The “spokes” are the Faculty-based units which deliver various services from a decentralised structure
  • This is an explicit and structured conception of two different tiers of academic support
peach 2005
Peach (2005)
  • Restructuring along the lines of centralisation rather than decentralisation
  • Tensions remain regarding:
    • Generic Services
    • The Role of Advisors
    • Collaboration
  • Sharp organisational change prompted dualistic thinking
kate chanock 2003 2006
Kate Chanock (2003, 2006)
  • Thoroughly Faculty-based model has several advantages:
    • Focus on academic discourse in disciplinary environments
    • Reduction of “Othering” and increased sense of collegiality with Faculty staff
    • More explicit mediating role between staff and students
    • Erode boundaries: content and process - see also Clark (2000)
disadvantages of faculty based model
Disadvantages of Faculty-based model
  • Failure to fully elaborate and academic literacy approach?
  • Lack of resources?
  • Lack of contact with other AALL advisors?
cartwright et al 2000
Cartwright et al (2000)
  • Supporting Academic Writing Explicitly Project – collaboration with Faculty staff
  • “Almost universally positive” feedback from students
  • Difference between campus – teacher/student ratio had a large effect on effectiveness; context is essential
  • TULIP (Cartwright and Ryan) foregrounded disciplinary differences
percy and skillen 2000
Percy and Skillen (2000)
  • Approach needs to be “proactive, systematic and formal”
  • “The curriculum is the ‘bridge’ where all groups engage, the students, the staff and the LAS advisers: it is where confusions can be addressed in a contextualised, relevant and timely manner” (Percy and Skillen, 2000, p. 1).
  • Crucial role of collaboration
contrived collaboration
Contrived Collaboration
  • “Contrived collegiality” is characterised as “as set of formal, specific, bureaucratic procedures to increase the attention being given to joint teacher planning, consultation, and other forms of working together” (Fullan and Hargreaves, 1992, p. 78).
project collaboration
Project collaboration

Collaborators should be “anxious to promote collaboration that would be inclusive and empowering, and that would not be viewed by the participants of the Project as merely co-opting their participation in order for us to fulfil the requirements of a tight time-line, accountability and pre-specified outcomes” (Cartwright and Ryan, p. 3).

collaborative culture
Collaborative culture
  • “When collaboration is undertaken by colleagues who experience similar constraints and possibilities within a power structure, the result can be educative, empowering, energising, critical, affirming and flexible in a way that no managerialist contrived collegiality can be” (Percy and Skillen 2000, p. 12).
flinders university student learning centre
Flinders University Student Learning Centre
  • The SLC has always been an organisationally centralised unit offering generic academic skill development
  • However we are seeking ways of engaging more fully with the Faculties, a process which is fraught with risks and sensitivities
slide19
Default setting: the guest lecture in essay writing or referencing using “the old model of integration where learning advisers came into subjects as ‘literacy experts’, delivered their knowledge to the students and left with that knowledge” (Skillen et al 1998, cited in Percy and Skillen 2000, pp. 3-4).
  • However there are more innovative ways of engaging with students from within the curriculum:
genuine synthesis of process and content
Genuine synthesis of process and content
  • Disciplinary background in English literature (discourse):
  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness and Critical Thinking
  • Tim Winton, The Riders and Academic Discourse
tutor feedback was it useful
Tutor Feedback – Was it Useful?
  • Definitely. (How I wish we had been taught these skills explicitly in the dim dark past when I was an undergraduate!) These concepts bear a lot of repetition, and application to specific texts and tasks. I had already discussed critical thinking and reading and constructing an argument in earlier tutes, so your lecture strengthened and developed those ideas.
  • Absolutely. The thing they most lack (apart from skill in English expression) is the ability to question their own assumptions. Your lectures were a good demonstration of critical (sceptical) reading. I also appreciated your outline of logical fallacies.
conclusion
The Centralised/Generic and Embedded/ Discipline-specific models do seem attractive as a way of talking about how we workConclusion…
slide23
However, it is a false dilemma: there are many different ways of operating which fall between these options; priorities include:

Best outcomes for students

Effective collaboration

references
References
  • Cartwright, P. & Ryan, J. (2000) Collaboration and Interaction: Modelling Explored. In Kate Chanock (Ed.), Refereed Proceedings of the National Language and Academic Skills Conference Held at La Trobe University November 27-28 2000. Retrieved 18 July, 2007 from: http://www.latrobe.edu.au/lasu/conference/cartwrightb.doc
  • Chanock, K. (2003). From one-to-one teaching to curriculum design: Taking the “re-” out of remediation. In J. Harbord (Ed.), Proceedings of the Second Conference of the European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing. Budapest: Centre for Academic Writing, Central European University.
  • Chanock, K. (2006). How Can We Handle the Specificity of the Writing Challenges that Face Our Students? Retrieved 17 July, 2007, from
  • http://www.zeitschrift-schreiben.eu/Beitraege/chanock_WritingChallenges.pdfCartwright, P., & Noone, L. (2000). “Is This What We’re Supposed to be Learning in This Unit?” Insights From TULIP (Tertiary Undergraduate Literacy Integration Program). In Kate Chanock (Ed.), Refereed Proceedings of the National Language and Academic Skills Conference Held at La Trobe University November 27-28 2000. Retrieved 18 July, 2007 from: http://www.latrobe.edu.au/lasu/conference/cartwrighta.doc
  • Fullan, J. & Hargreaves, A. (1992). What is worth fighting for in your school? Buckingham: Open University Press.
  • Peach, D. (2005) Ensuring student success – the role of support services in improving the quality of the student learning experience. Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development 2(3), pp. 1-15. Retrieved 9 July from: http://sleid.cqu.edu.au/viewissue.php?id=8
  • Percy, A. & Skillen, J. (2000). A Systemic Approach to Working With Academic Staff: Addressing the Confusion at the Source. In Kate Chanock (Ed.), Refereed Proceedings of the National Language and Academic Skills Conference Held at La Trobe University November 27-28 2000. Retrieved 18 July, 2007 from: http://www.latrobe.edu.au/lasu/conference/percy.doc