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‘Maybe I can do this. Maybe I should be here’: Evaluating an academic literacy, resilience and confidence programme

Donovan, Christina and Erskine-Shaw, Marianne (2019) ‘Maybe I can do this. Maybe I should be here’: Evaluating an academic literacy, resilience and confidence programme. Journal of Further and Higher Education. ISSN 0309-877X

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Abstract

It has been well documented in research that students from so-called ‘non-traditional’ backgrounds can experience significant difficulty in accessing Higher Education, in part due to a lack of cultural capital. This is further reinforced by ‘invisible pedagogic practices’ (Tapp 2015), which uphold the prestige of disciplines such as ‘critical analysis’, ‘structure’ and ‘argument’ without adequately inducting students into such practices. Through the evaluation of an academic literacy intervention (‘ARC’) designed to improve the academic resilience and confidence of students on an undergraduate degree programme, this paper demonstrates that ‘literacy’ is as much a social practice as it is a set of applied skills. Thus, ‘academic literacy’ should constitute both study skills and academic socialisation. This paper further argues that the acquisition of ‘academic literacy’ necessitates the adoption of an ‘academic identity’; which is an emotional, as well as an intellectual endeavour. This requires institutions to move away from the deficit model of ‘academic literacy support’ towards models which enable the construction of a shared academic identity and cultivate a sense of belonging to the university environment.

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