Support strategies for scaffolding students? acquisition of academic literacy skills: experiences at a University of Technology

09 Dec 2019

Literature abounds on the reasons for students? high failure and attrition rates, and low academic output and throughput rates in South African universities. While a number of reasons explain this situation, there is copious research that emphasises the fact that second-language students? poor academic literacy (AL) is at the heart of this situation. What is most needed is sharing of intervention strategies that higher education institutions use to enhance students? AL. This study reports on AL challenges that students face at a South African University of Technology and intervention strategies that AL lecturers and those teaching literacy-related subjects employ in promoting students? learning. Scaffolding theory informed this study. Results collected through semi-structured interviews were analysed thematically. They revealed that although students encountered a number of AL-related challenges, providing them with interventions scaffolded AL acquisition. Results further showed that adopting an institution-wide collaborative approach helped to improve students? AL skills. The author recommends that universities should share best practice examples, as this adds to existing knowledge and assists other institutions that deal with AL challenges. Furthermore, students? life experiences and immediate environments should be incorporated in scaffolding their AL skills. Evaluation of interventions should be made to determine efficacy.