(CS EdX Sessions) Wheeler, Sack, Davidson & Cross

Title: Beyond first year: Embedded Academic Skills support

Presenter: Debbie Wheeler, Julie Sack, Karen Davidson, Erika Cross  

Division:  Division of Student Services, Academic Skills

Session Type: Podcast

Where: Podcast available here

Abstract: The Division of Student Services promotes an embedded and integrated approach to literacy support that is considered best practice (Maldoni & Lear, 2016; Wingate, 2006; Wingate et al., 2011) and relies on collaboration between literacy professionals and discipline experts to be optimally effective (Harris & Ashton, 2011; McWilliams & Allan, 2014).

The Academic Skills and Online Study teams work collaboratively with discipline experts within subjects to support the staged development of reading, writing, language, learning, and online study skills appropriate for subject and course requirements. The aim is for students to attain a professional level of literacy by the end of their course. The first time students encounter an essay, for example, the Academic Skills team might provide a contextualised and embedded workshop that addresses foundational skills of structuring paragraphs, synthesising evidence, and referencing accurately. Explicit teaching of these skills improves performance, alleviates anxiety, and permits closer attention to the content.

To date, much of the work done to engage students with the wealth of skills support available to them has been targeted at first year undergraduate students. However, even a well-designed approach to literacy development cannot be all-encompassing and does not obviate the need for further support. In fact, many students do not ask for assistance with writing or literacy in their first year (Lawrence, 2005; Cleary et al., 2017), and it is not until the content becomes more challenging and the expectations increase that skills gaps become more obvious. Those teaching in post-graduate courses will understand the diversity of students’ skills and experience and the importance of supporting the development of their literacy and digital skills, especially if it has been some time since they last studied.

Listeners will learn about the ways in which academics at Charles Sturt University are making use of the resources provided by the Academic Skills and Online Study teams to support students beyond first year. You will hear from academics currently teaching across a range of disciplines about the particular needs of their students, how Academic Skills support has been effectively utilised and embedded, and outcomes that have eventuated.


Harris, A., & Ashton, J. (2011). Embedding and integrating language and academic skills: An innovative approach. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 5(2), A73-A87. https://search-informit-com-au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/documentSummary;dn=191671;res=AEIPT

Maldoni, A., & Lear, E. (2016). A decade of embedding: Where are we now? Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 13(3), 22. http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=117651777&site=ehost-live  

McWilliams, R., & Allan, Q. (2014). Embedding academic literacy skills: Towards a best practice model. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 11(3), 1-20. http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=100358793&site=ehost-live

Wingate, U. (2006). Doing away with ‘study skills’. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(4), 457- 469. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562510600874268 Wingate, U., Andon, N., & Cogo, A. (2011). Embedding academic writing instruction into subject teaching: A case study. Active Learning in Higher Education,12(1), 69-81, https://doi.org/10.1177/1469787410387814