Acquiring academic literacy : a case of first-year extended degree programme students at Stellenbosch University

SUNScholar Research Repository

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor Bitzer, E. M.
dc.contributor.advisor Van der Walt, C.
dc.contributor.author Van Schalkwyk, Susan C. en_ZA
dc.contributor.other Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Education. Dept. of Curriculum Studies.
dc.date.accessioned 2008-06-24T09:33:10Z en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2010-06-01T08:21:09Z
dc.date.available 2008-06-24T09:33:10Z en_ZA
dc.date.available 2010-06-01T08:21:09Z
dc.date.issued 2008-03
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/1418
dc.description Thesis (PhD (Curriculum Studies))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.
dc.description.abstract In this study the experiences of a group of first-year Extended Degree Programme (EDP) students were explored in order to obtain insight into their acquisition of academic literacy. The study was undertaken against the backdrop of a higher education sector that is facing an increasing influx of first-year students on the one hand, and poor retention rates on the other. In South Africa, where the opening up of access to higher education for all citizens has become a political imperative, the need to address the undesirable dropout rate is self-evident. Students’ poor performance at university is often linked to their under-preparedness for higher education studies, and an important aspect of such under-preparedness is their academic literacy. In this context academic literacy is seen as knowing how to speak and act within a particular discourse, and the reading and writing that occur within the discipline as tools through which to facilitate learning. While some students acquire academic literacy by virtue of their participation in the discourse community of the relevant discipline, this is not always so for students who are less prepared for higher education studies. In response to the disconcerting retention rates, higher education institutions have implemented academic support programmes to address the needs of students who enter university with poor school results. One such intervention at Stellenbosch University is the Extended Degree Programme in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, which makes provision for students to extend their first academic year over two years. Since 2006 EDP students have also been required to register for an academic literacy module and it is this group that comprises the focus of this study. Using a case study design, this qualitative, interpretive inquiry was characterized by multiple data collection methods. In this way qualitative data that pointed to the perceptions of the students and some of the lecturers who taught the EDP classes were generated via semi-structured interviews, focus group interviews, observation and content analysis. In addition, descriptive quantitative data was collected and this further contributed to generating the rich, in-depth data that characterize case study research. The analysis of the data was undertaken according to a three-tiered approach, in which the results of the empirical inquiry were first analysed per data source and then themes and trends across all the data sources were identified. Ultimately, these findings were interpreted according to an explanatory framework. The study highlights a number of important issues, key of which is that providing an academic literacy module for under-prepared students can facilitate the acquisition of academic literacy, particularly when such provision seeks to support the different discipline-based mainstream modules. Another important finding of the study emphasizes the extent to which institutional factors, such as increased student numbers, have placed pressure on university infrastructure and human resources. The impact of this situation filters down to the first-year classroom and negatively influences student learning. Finally, the results of the study question prevailing notions about under-prepared students as all of the students in the study, irrespective of their backgrounds and levels of sophistication, attested to the significant challenges that entry into the academic community posed for them. The findings of this study, while specific to the context in which it was undertaken, contribute to the growing body of knowledge in the field of academic development within higher education and the role of academic literacy in student learning. en_ZA
dc.language.iso en en_ZA
dc.publisher Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University
dc.subject Academic literacy en_ZA
dc.subject First-year students en_ZA
dc.subject Extended degree en_ZA
dc.subject Academic support en_ZA
dc.subject Dissertations -- Curriculum studies en_ZA
dc.subject Theses -- Curriculum studies en_ZA
dc.subject College dropouts -- South Africa -- Stellenbosch -- Prevention en_ZA
dc.subject Motivation in education en_ZA
dc.subject Universities and colleges -- South Africa -- Stellenbosch en_ZA
dc.subject Education, Higher -- South Africa -- Stellenbosch en_ZA
dc.subject Theses -- Education en_ZA
dc.subject Dissertations -- Education en_ZA
dc.title Acquiring academic literacy : a case of first-year extended degree programme students at Stellenbosch University en_ZA
dc.type Thesis en_ZA
dc.rights.holder Stellenbosch University


Files in this item

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record