Crossing the threshold from discipline expert to discipline practitioner

22 May 2015

This paper explores a participatory process between a Law lecturer, an academic literacy practitioner and students as teacher agency was conceptualised and theorised as a means of promoting student success. This position paper identifies and advocates a shift in the role of the lecturer as discipline expert to practitioner to provide students with the much needed community of practice (Wenger 1998) and to bridge the gap between epistemological access to disciplines (Morrow 1993) and student identity. This investigation is premised on the notion that students are usually identified as the only ones lacking in effective academic practices; little attention is given to lecturers? reluctance or inability to embrace methodologies that make disciplinary practices explicit to students to enable them to become academically literate in the discourse of the university as well as their specialist disciplines. The study draws on interviews with the lecturer and focus group discussions with students. Informed by the theories of New Literacy Studies, Rhetorical Studies and Threshold Concepts, the paper presents the notion of ?crossing the threshold? from discipline or content expert to discipline practitioner. The paper suggests that it is through intense and sustained critical conversations between the discipline expert, student and academic literacy practitioner that the role of the lecturer may shift to a shared space where academic literacy is embedded in the methodological practices governing the pedagogy of the discipline. It is also suggested that higher education provide the opportunity and scaffolding for lecturers to move into an academic development role within the parameters of their own faculties and disciplines.