Partners in a changing dance: embedding academic literacies in unit and course curricula

Linda Carol Thies, Viola Rosario


This paper presents a two-part case study that used the seminal Lea and Street (1998) paper on academic literacies to inform ways of working collaboratively with a range of partners on embedding the development of academic literacies in course curricula. The two projects that make up the case study were funded by an Australian Government response to a greater linguistic, social and cultural diversity of students enrolling in Australian universities (Australian Commonwealth Government, 2009a). Both projects focused on the development of curricula in selected professional courses in order to increase students’ awareness of the requirements of their chosen discipline, and ensure that they acquire the academic literacies needed to succeed in their area of study. What differed is the combinations of project partners and the nature of the partnerships. The case study presents the collaborative work of numerous project partners including Language and Learning Advisers (LLAs) and Subject Lecturers (SLs) in first identifying and defining academic literacies relevant to each course, and then implementing different teaching and learning practices to integrate the development of academic literacies in course curricula. Using the analogy of an ever-changing dance, the paper suggests that the degree of success and the sustainability of curriculum renewal projects depends on numerous interrelated factors, and that it may not be possible to enact academic literacy development by following set dance steps. Awareness, sensitivity and flexibility are important in bringing the dance to life.


embedded academic literacies; curriculum development; case study; student diversity; collaboration; inclusive curriculum

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ISSN: 1759-667X