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Academic literacies and PhD education?: Aspirations, implementation, and implications from a doctoral workshop series
Umeå University, Umeå University Library.
Umeå University, Umeå University Library.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1001-6156​
Umeå University, Umeå University Library.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9735-4491
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This presentation reports on the process of developing and implementing a workshop series for PhD students at the Academic Resource Centre, Umeå University, launched for the first time during the spring term 2017. Adopting an academic literacies model (Lea & Street, 1998, 2006) as the framework for the course’s underlying principles, its design and instruction, we propose that literacy in a university setting and especially at doctoral level can be understood not only as the individual, transferable cognitive skills of writing and reading. Rather, it is an interrelated, dynamic, and situated set of knowledge, skills, and personal attributes that support PhD students to acculturate themselves into their disciplinary discourses, as well as the academic community and wider social contexts.

Lea and Street’s (2006) academic literacies model draws from both the surface features of language form (the study skills model) and students’ acculturation into a disciplinary and subject area community (the academic socialisation model). However, the academic literacies model moves beyond the academic socialisation model by considering social processes (such as power, identity, and authority). This model has been used in different higher education contexts, enabling the conceptualising and reconceptualising of the knowledge students should learn and do with regards to academic writing and reading (e.g. Wingate, 2012; Castanheira, Street, & Carvalho, 2015; Guzmán-Simón, García-Jiménez, & López-Cobo, 2017).

In the particular setting of Umeå University, the Academic Resource Centre, University Library is the unit who provides academic support to students at all levels, including PhD students. From our experience as academic tutors, academic librarians and researchers working with the University’s doctoral students, we were able to identify their need for support not only with thesis texts written in English but also a range of capabilities such as article reading, research communicating, information searching, and publishing. These needs have also been expressed by PhD students themselves. As a result, the workshop series “Write here, Write now” was developed and implemented by the Academic Resource Centre during March – May 2017. Informed by the academic literacies model, a number of factors were considered as we approached writing. Besides the focus of helping students to improve their academic English, we wished to highlight that writing is a process which involves a myriad of competence, and it is a social practice rather than merely an individual cognitive skill. Above all, we aspired to develop a course that aligns with the national goals for Swedish PhD education which are set beyond the final thesis; the aim is to educate a critical, autonomous, creative, and responsible PhD researcher (Swedish Higher Education Ordinance, Annex 2, Qualifications Ordinance). The course should also be designed following the fundamental principles of teaching and learning in higher education that promote critical thinking, active learning, learner autonomy, and collaborative learning.

In our presentation, we will show how these aspirations have helped us with our attempts at defining “literacy” in PhD education at Umeå University as lying at the intersection of English language, research competence, and Information literacy. Examples of how we incorporated the intended contents and guiding principles in our pedagogical practices will be provided. Reflections on our roles as instructors and further implications regarding policy on PhD education in the Swedish context will also be discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Universitetspedagogik och lärandestöd (UPL), Umeå universitet , 2017. p. 54-55
Keywords [en]
Academic literacies, PhD education
National Category
Languages and Literature Pedagogical Work
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-141305OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-141305DiVA, id: diva2:1153157
Conference
Umeå University Teaching Conference 2017, 24-25 October, 2017, Umeå, Sweden.
Available from: 2017-10-27 Created: 2017-10-27 Last updated: 2018-06-09Bibliographically approved

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Bindler, AnnikaVu, Mai TrangOlsson, Magnus
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