Academic literacy diagnostic assessment in the first semester of first year at university

Publisher:
Queensland University of Technology
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, 2014, 5 (1), pp. 67 - 78
Issue Date:
2014-03-02
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One vital aspect of the first semester of the first year at university is how academic literacy expectations are made explicit though teaching and assessment practices at the disciplinary level. This paper describes how an academic literacy diagnostic process, and the MASUS tool, was used to ascertain the academic literacy profile of a cohort of undergraduate nursing students [N=569] at the beginning and end of their first semester. Key findings of this quantitative descriptive case study were that only just over half of commencing students possessed appropriate academic literacy skills in all four aspects of the diagnostic and nearly 20% scored in the lowest band—suggesting difficulty with multiple aspects of academic literacy. By the end of semester, 77% of the students who had scored in the lowest band of the MASUS at the beginning of the semester had improved their scores to the middle or highest band, and 73% of them eventually attained a pass or higher grade for the course. The findings of this study suggest that large-scale academic literacy diagnostic assessment, when embedded and contextualized within a course of study, is an effective means of providing the early feedback and targeted support that many commencing university students need.
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