Academic Literacies


Academic Literacies

Academic Literacies enable students to engage in the activities and ways of knowing in their chosen academic fields. ALs include literacy, language, numeracy, information literacy and digital literacy.

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Latest Activity: Feb 18, 2014

Academic literacies

A quote from James Gee

Academic areas are not first and foremost bodies of facts, they are, rather, first and foremost, the ways and activities of knowing through which such facts are generated, defended and modified. Such activities and ways of knowing are carried out by people who adopt certain sorts of identities, that is adopt certain ways with words, actions and interactions as well as certain values, attitudes and beliefs.

Hence the importance of academic literacies, they allow you to participate in 'ways and activities of knowing.' In academic setting this (broadly) means understanding questions asked in a discipline, finding information to answer those questions, interpreting and organising the information and presenting the information.

Making this activity explicit to learners would help them to understand a central part of tertiary study.


While acknowledging that literacies are specific to a discipline as per the Gee quote, we would argue that there is a generic process of enquiry which gives us a framework that applies across disciplines. This process, in simple terms, is made up of 6 steps -
1. we start with a question, something that needs explaining or answering
2. we search for information or generate data
3. we evaluate that information or data
4. we organise the information/data in terms of the question
5. we interpret what we've found
6. finally we present it in some way

Information literacy is a substantial component of this process.

Despite the fact that this process of enquiry is central to tertiary study - we use it to write academic articles, frame our lectures and require it in assignments - we seldom make it explicit to students. The aim of this forum is to explore how we can do this.


Adeliade University has developed a Research Framework using similar steps to the 6 above and mapping research across different levels. This is a handy way to decide if you are assessing academic literacies at an appropriate level. If you click on the boxes in the table you get given a range of exemplars from different Universities and disciplines on how to embed academic literacies. Go here

The Assessment Tool - TEC's diagnostic

Most of you will be aware of the Assessment Tool that TEC is trialling this year. It was originally designed to test reading, writing and numeracy in programmes at levels 1-3, but there is a great deal of interest in using it with students at levels 4 and 5. If you'd like to have a look at the tool and have access to it for next year, please get in touch with Bettina Schwenger, Trisha Hanifin or Mark Smith and we can show you the ropes.

To use the tool effectively you'll need to get a handle on how it works and how to set it up, you'll need to engage with TEC's 'Progressions' so you know what the different levels in the tool mean and finally you'll need to respond to the results of your learners by including deliberate acts of teaching on literacy.

Go here for more information on the tool

and here for resources on the progressions

We can help you with questions you have.

Digital literacies

Diana Ayling drew attention to this report "Digital Information Literacy: what is it and how do you get it?" in a recent blog. In case you didn't see it go here -

Discussion Forum

Predicting success, excellence and retention from early course performance: the suprisingly critical significance of formal academic writing competency 8 Replies

Students entering a first-year tertiary course have yet to be inculcated into to the challenging requirements of contemporary Western tertiary educational approaches, the specific performance…Continue

Tags: analysis, data, mining, regression, statistical

Started by Peter J MELLALIEU. Last reply by Peter J MELLALIEU May 3, 2011.

What are academic literacies: Reply to Mark's post 4 Replies

What are academic literacies Whilst I hold with the process approach I also would like to see more of an appreciation of the significance of self within the academic process.When I engage in an…Continue

Started by ndunham. Last reply by Mark Smith Dec 10, 2010.

Achievements, issues and ways forward: reflections on the English experience - Helen Casey seminar 20 October 2010 3 Replies

   Here are some of my impressions - and it would be great if others could add theirs! What did you take away from the seminar? Helen Casey is the Director of the NRDC, the National Research and…Continue

Tags: research, action, LLN, embedding

Started by Bettina Schwenger. Last reply by Peter J MELLALIEU Dec 6, 2010.

Digital literacies

This article ties in quite nicely with the results of the Ministry of Education…Continue

Started by Fran Skilton Oct 28, 2010.

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