Associate Professor Sophie Arkoudis
Sophie Arkoudis is an Associate Professor in higher education and Acting Director of the Centre for the Study in Higher Education at the University of Melbourne. Her research is associated with higher education policy development. Her research program spans English language teaching and learning in higher education, English language assessment, student finances, access and equity, academic workforce and internationalising the curriculum.
In 2012, she received an Office for Teaching and Learning National Senior Teaching Fellowship that focuses on developing options and strategies for integrating English language learning outcomes in higher education curricula.
ALL at the crossroads
The higher education landscape is changing. Within the widening participation agenda of the Australian government, the linguistic and cultural diversity of students undertaking higher education courses has increased, and with this a shift in focus to English language proficiency (ELP) learning outcomes of all students. As a result Australian higher education institutions are developing strategies for monitoring and evaluating the English language learning outcomes of their graduates. Critical to this is the role of Academic Language and Learning Advisors in reconceptualising their work. This raises questions about redefining the role and repositioning the work of ALL. This presentation will propose future directions in this area.
Professor James Arvanitakis
James Arvanitakis is Professor – Social and Cultural Analysis with the University of Western Sydney and a member of the University’s Institute for Culture and Society. He is also the Head of the Academy at UWS. His many publications include Contemporary Society, a sociology textbook on analyzing the contemporary world (Oxford University Press), for which he is currently writing a second edition. Amongst his current research projects is an Australian Research Council funded project, 'Heterogeneous citizenship in a complex world', which looks at the changing nature of citizenship and how civics education can be promoted to marginalized and disengaged communities. He is also the 2012 Award Winner of the Office of Learning and Teaching Prime Minister's University Teacher of the Year Award. A former banker turned human rights activist, he has worked in conflict zones throughout the Pacific and Asia. In 2013, James was appointed the Head of UWS Academy - the new leadership and community engagement initiative of the University.
Q: What connects lecturers and Academic Language and Learning (ALL) advisors?
Changing demographics, internationalisation, multiple commitments and a widening participation agenda in the contemporary university have resulted in a radically different student cohort than existed a generation ago. In addition, changing technologies and a radically different learning environment means that this cohort demands and requires different learning and teaching approaches. While a proportion of any university teaching staff continue to deliver both lectures and the broader content via the traditional ‘broadcast’ style in which we were schooled, the greater challenge is to adapt and respond to these rapid changes without compromising academic standards.
In this environment, lecturers and Academic Language and Learning (ALL) advisors must work together if we are serious, firstly, about student outcomes across attendance, retention and academic success rates; and secondly, about the social justice project that is operationalised by the widening participation agenda. The fundamental challenge is to bridge the gaps between lecturer and student; and one clear approach is to build a bridge together with the professionals who are best placed to work with students, academics and the university to support and address those difficulties that arise from the rapid changes outlined above: changing demographics, internationalisation, multiple commitments and a widening participation agenda. It is vital that lecturers do not locate the blame for miscommunication due to mass communication with students: it is not students any more than teachers who control class size or admission thresholds. Rather, lecturers and ALL advisors alike must reflect on our own teaching and learning methods.
The question is: how can lecturers and ALL advisors best work together in bridging this divide? After all, our shared goal is ultimately to see students building the skills to become and stay engaged with course content to the extent that they develop the graduate attributes towards which we all must strive.
In this presentation, I will discuss various approaches that lecturers and ALL advisors can employ to work more effectively together in addressing these various communication divides. From story-telling to co-development of curriculum to the use of social media, improved co-operative teaching is a matter of ensuring strong communication and quality pedagogical practices are accompanied by reflective learning and a shared commitment to student attainment.