Pedagogical applications of academic literacies theory: a reflection and case study

  • John Wrigglesworth Sheffield Hallam University
Keywords: academic literacies, course design, genre pedagogy, learning objectives, student writing


The development of the academic literacies approach has provided learning developers with a range of powerful tools to help all students to progress through higher education. Twenty years ago, Lea and Street’s (1998) report on student writing initiated a debate which encouraged the transformation of writing pedagogy in UK higher education. The goal of the transformation was, and remains, to develop an education system which is expanding, inclusive and accessible.

This paper focuses on the use of the meaning-making resources that students bring to their learning journey and the ones they encounter throughout their study. It outlines the documentation that enacts the rules that govern university practice at task, module, course and institutional level. The paper draws on academic literacies tools to help to clear away misunderstandings about students’ use of language. It then outlines Lea and Street’s (1998) classification of institutional approaches to the pedagogical challenges of improving student writing.

The case study describes an optional credit-bearing Introduction to Academic Language module on a UK degree course. By conducting a series of analytical tasks, the undergraduates who elected to take the module developed their use of aspects of academic writing including genre, argument and intertextuality. Students were assessed by analysing their own assessment scripts from other disciplinary modules. The academic writing module was evaluated in ways that could evidence recommendations for change at multiple levels. The methods of evaluation follow practices regarded as standard in many university quality processes but were used to transform provision along inclusive, academic literacies lines.

Author Biography

John Wrigglesworth, Sheffield Hallam University
Principal Lecturer. Sheffield Institute of Education
How to Cite
Wrigglesworth, J. (2019) “Pedagogical applications of academic literacies theory: a reflection and case study”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. Plymouth, UK, 0(15). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.v0i15.552.