Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Academic Communications Skills: Where to from Here?

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Academic Communications Skills: Where to from Here?

Article excerpt

Whoever controls the radius of your knowledge, controls the circumference of your activity

..................'Dr. K. Mohammed

An academic literacy programme takes off from the premise that admitted students are talented but at some form of risk at first entry to any tertiary institution and thus need to be brought to par. Inherent to all its aims is the prioritization of the recognition of this transition by creating an interdisciplinary learning environment and community in which students will not only be encouraged to succeed but to flourish. It further seeks to contextualize remedial intervention that offers reading and writing skills that discourage mediocrity across faculties. Not only does it also foster habits of mind essential in the academic arena but help bridge the digital, cultural and linguistic divide that characterizes the heterogeneous background of students at first entry at higher education.

The rationale of the course is grounded in the need to introduce first entering students to core competencies expected of them in order to succeed in an institution of higher learning; direct and shape the transition from high school learning styles to new discourses (a-rhetorical to rhetorical/heuristic writing and learning)

The expected outcomes at the end of a module like this one is also intertwined with both the rationale and aims; at the end of the module, students are expected to be able to discern, differentiate and understand a range of academic discourses; communicate effectively evidenced in the ability to respond critically to a variety of texts both oral and written. They should also not only be able to conduct research but also be able to navigate electronic media and be able to take full advantage of technologically advanced learning.

The aims and objectives would have been met when the course outline, assessment (both formative and summative) are aligned to purposes of this course and assist students to develop the ability to use and communicate in the English language effectively in the four academic skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking. Since the English language is the one medium of instruction in most areas of specialization and the lingua franca of the global village, students, particularly L2 speakers of English need to undergo a scaffolding experience such as this through a variety of exercises to acquire a reasonable command of English.

Process: A course outline informs and directs all best practices relating to the aspired outcome. It has to reflect the following basic areas of intervention:

Changing the mindset: This lesson is about the differences between high school and university. It is important for students to realize that the methods (largely cramming methods) that worked so well at high school do not often work in the university environment. In terms of language competence, it is imperative that a student has or develops a reasonable command of the English language in order to better cope with his/her studies.

Effective Listening and Note-taking Skills: The first place of academic engagement at university is the lecture room. A student who does not have effective listening skills is at a disadvantage. Most course activities are explained or dealt with in the lecture and students should be able to listen effectively so much that at the end of the lesson they at least leave with 60% or more of the knowledge shared. Students must at all times be able to listen and take down note whilst a lecture is in progress and in this way they become active participants in the lesson.

Effective Reading and Note-creation Skills: Students should have the ability to accurately interpret textual information. Academic reading is different from passive reading of such mediums as a newspaper. Student should read with understand and the specific purpose of utilizing the read information in a variety of ways.

Summary writing: In most of their reading students are confronted with bulk information. …

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