Pedagogies for Performance: Emergent Learning and Literacies in Tertiary Education
Recent research on academic literacy has focused on disciplinary discourses and how to promote a critical capacity in students while inducting them into the relevant discursive communities (Lea and Street, 1999; Benesch, 2001; Hyland, 2002). There is very little commentary on the impact of the current political and economic context and the 'new vocationalism' on student learning and literacy in multi-disciplinary courses, the goal of which is to induct learners into the 'real world' of work in far more direct ways than traditional courses have done.
This paper reports on the findings of a study currently being conducted at an Australian university of technology that has a practice-oriented approach. The purpose of the study is to better understand the learning and literacy outcomes intended by lecturers setting practice-oriented assessment tasks; to establish the extent to which students' perceptions of outcomes are aligned with those of lecturers; and to examine the impact that these kinds of tasks have on student literacies. Interviews are currently being conducted with lecturers responsible for the design and management of practice-oriented tasks, and students doing these tasks. The interviews are being analysed for themes around knowledge, learning, and literacy and how these relate to the requirements of the workplace. Completed written assignments are also being analysed to establish the nature of the literacies promoted by these tasks, and how these literacies are related to intended learning outcomes.
Of particular interest to the study are the new hybrid genres being generated, and the hybrid identities promoted in this way (Solomon, 2003); the shift in emphasis from 'literacy' to 'communication'; and the way in which learning in this context is increasingly less dependent on text-based practices. It is hoped that the study will contribute to an understanding of emergent literacy and communication practices, and allow for the promotion of these in a coherent and critical manner.
Keywords: Tertiary Literacies, New Vocationalism, Practice-oriented Assessment
Dr Teresa Dovey
Researcher/lecturer, English Language Study Skills Assistance (ELSSA) Centre, University of Technology, Sydney (UTS)