Part I of the book is designed as an orientation process that repeats my own five years of exploration of the academic literacy game. Chapter 1 introduces readers to a way of focusing on academic literacy as its own unique problem. I frame the issue as not entirely resolvable in terms of any other area of research. In other words, my argument is that academic literacy is not cognitive psychology, sociology, composition, or even genres, but it needs its own approach within literacy theory. I argue that this approach needs to be framed in terms of information, which is the material used in the game. An exploration involves explaining what the game consists of and describing the skills that make a player more or less competent.
Chapter 2 provides a three-part literature review that first surveys educational research that touches on information, second describes information theory, and then finally integrates that theory with the Multiliteracies Project, which provides a framework for analysis. The chapter closes with the traditional research questions.
Chapter 3 provides a description of the methods, which involved the qualitative multicase study approach that has become standard in socially based literacy research. It shows how research subjects were chosen and investigated, and how the data were gathered and analyzed.
Chapter 4 balances that analytic framework with a human dimension. It introduces readers to the participants as four unique people living their lives and playing the “academic achievement game” as only one part of a full human existence.