Smoothing the path to transition
This report is the key project output from a two-year, $200,000 TLRI-funded PAR research project centred on exploring the perceived academic literacy gap in the transition from secondary to tertiary learning contexts. The research adopted an academic literacy pedagogy to connect writing and critical thinking with disciplinary knowledge development, rather than a writing skills pedagogy often adopted in academic preparation courses and learning support centres, which tends to focus on structural element of writing. The project sought to understand the academic learning demands and teaching practices in Year 13 and first year university courses, and, through the recognition of key elements of difference in approaches to teaching academic literacy, develop ways to bridge the expectation gap, thereby smoothing the transition into tertiary learning demands. Key interventions were developed to familiarise secondary teachers and students to tertiary learning demands and expectations via university visits and collaborative exploration of academic literacy and IL opportunities inherent in NCEA unit standards and assessments. The research identified key pressures on secondary teachers, particularly the perceived accountability pressure of NCEA achievement, and a lack of strategic instruction centred on academic literacy, and particularly IL, which emerged as a key element for further investigation in secondary schools. The TLRI fund is a highly contested research fund, with an emphasis on partnerships between teachers and researchers to improve educational outcomes for learners.