Reading and Writing in the Subject Areas: Targeted, Discipline-based Interactive Resources for 1st Year UG Students

The International Academic Forum [IAFOR]
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
ACE 2011: The Asian Conference on Education, 2011, pp. 1121 - 1134
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As Basil Bernstein’s (1971) seminal work has demonstrated, students from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds can often come to the schooling context disadvantaged by a lack of familiarity with the elaborated codes utilised in schools. Students entering universities from a low SES background can also often be challenged by the elaborated codes of the higher education system and by the discipline-specific discourses to which they are exposed. In 2008, the Australian Government initiated a Review of Australian Higher Education to examine the future direction of the higher education sector, its fitness towards meeting the needs of the Australian community and economy, and the options for ongoing reform. This paper reports on a funded project under the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) Widening Participation Scheme (WPS), which arose out of the recommendations of the Review of Australian Higher Education. This project seeks to address the significant challenges facing first-year undergraduate students in regard to discourse and rhetorical structure and the genres of specific disciplines. The project involves firstly conducting a needs analysis and, on the basis of this analysis, providing genre- and discipline-specific online support materials and activities which scaffold students’ first attempts at reading and writing in the discourse of their chosen discipline.
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