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Embedding communication and literacy in the curriculum

Alexander, P., Briguglio, C., Johnson, S., Pearce, J., Veitch, S., Barrett-Lennard, S. and Harvey, E. (2013) Embedding communication and literacy in the curriculum. In: Teaching and Learning Forum 2013: Design, develop, evaluate - The core of the learning environment, 7 - 8 February 2013, Murdoch University, Murdoch, W.A.


Academic communication and literacy have emerged as key elements in 21st Century curricula. Indeed, the development of academic communication and literacy skills has been explicitly incorporated into international strategic curriculum change (Blackmore & Kandiko 2012). This cross-institutional symposium will discuss embedding academic communication and literacy within the curriculum and within disciplines in higher education. The main goal of the symposium will be to explore key issues and strategies around embedding, within the broad context of curriculum change and renewal.

Although there is growing recognition that the most effective way to promote academic communication and literacy skills is to embed teaching and learning support for these skills into discipline-specific curricula, with academic language and learning specialists collaborating with discipline specialists, the challenges of embedded approaches are also recognised (Arkoudis & Starfield 2007). Apart from issues of funding and resources, a major challenge relates to the process of collaboration itself and difficulties related to differences in teaching philosophies, power relations and institutional priorities (Arkoudis & Starfield 2007).

Involving a panel of academic language and learning specialists and discipline specialists from Murdoch, UWA and Curtin, the symposium will explore the opportunities and challenges of embedded approaches through individual mini-presentations and open discussion of key issues. Topics of individual mini-presentations will include:

• examples of successful embedding programs, such as Curtin University's Starting University Confidently and Competently English Support Scheme (SUCCESS);
• local and national initiatives, including Murdoch School of Education's initiative to develop core literacy concepts/attributes for Education and Carmela Briguglio's 'Embedding English Language Development into the Disciplines' OLT fellowship;

•examples of institutional frameworks, such as UWA's Communications Skills Framework, developed as part of its New Courses 2012 initiative (CATL 2012).
•Open discussion topics will include:
•the role of communication skills/academic literacy in curriculum renewal;
•key factors in successful collaborative partnerships between teaching and learning specialists and disciplinary specialists;
•exploring shared understandings and the establishment of a common language to speak about academic literacy.

A major goal of the symposium will be to engage audience participants in the discussion and to establish the basis for collaborations beyond the forum. It is hoped that the symposium will also contribute to the development of strategies for further promoting academic literacy and communication skills at Murdoch University and other institutions.


Arkoudis, S. & Starfield, S. (2007). In-course language development and support. Australian Education International.

Blackmore, P. & Kandiko, C. (2012). Strategic curriculum change: Global trends in universities. London: Routledge.

Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (2012). Communication skills framework 2012.

Dunworth, K. & Briguglio, C. (2010). Collaborating across boundaries: Developing a cross-departmental approach to English language development in an undergraduate business unit. Journal of Academic Language & Learning, 4(1), A13-A23.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
Conference Website:
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