Negotiated understandings of the academic literacy practices of tertiary educators.
This study explores the process that occurred between a group of language lecturers and disciplinary specialists at a tertiary institution in South Africa as they negotiated common understandings of an integrated approach to the teaching of academic literacies. The focus of the study is on both the process underpinning this approach, as well as how the participants understood this process and constructed themselves within it. The unit of analysis in this study is the co-ordinated integrated approach to the teaching of academic literacies. This is a retrospective case study that engaged participants in a process of reflection on their interactions, over the three-year life of an institutional project, which resulted from the collaboration of language lecturers and disciplinary specialists. The overarching approach to data production was narrative methodology. Drawing on life history research methods, various strategies (such as participant observation, survey of documentation, analysis of policy documents, stimulated recall, individual interviewing and focus group sessions) were used to collect data about participants' experiences retrospectively. Three levels of analysis were applied to the primary data set, which comprised the narrative interviews, freewrites and focus group sessions. The findings from the study suggest that sustained interaction between language lecturers and disciplinary specialists is an important process in reshaping how both parties construct their roles and academic identities within higher education, a necessary element in shifting mindsets regarding the practice of academic literacy teaching in higher education. The most important factors in bringing about this shift are presented in the report as a theoretical model for the process of integrating academic literacies into disciplines. These factors and the processes linking them, represent important considerations when designing integrated approaches to the teaching of academic literacies, and are instrumental in bringing about changes regarding the practice of academic literacy teaching in higher education. The data suggest that the creation of productive institutional discursive spaces, which transgress narrow disciplinary boundaries, could bridge the separate academic Iifeworlds of language lecturers and disciplinary specialists. In a shift away from the 'study skills' view of academic literacy which supports an autonomous model of literacy, and the 'acculturation' view of academic literacy which supports an uncritical academic socialisation model, this study proposes a critical understanding of the teaching of discipline-specific academic literacies and introduces an inside/outside model of academic literacy teaching. This model proposes that disciplinary specialists need to be working within their disciplinary Discourse communities, while simultaneously having a critical overview of this 'insider' role, from outside of it. It is in engaging with language lecturers who are 'outsiders' to their disciplinary Discourses that disciplinary specialists find themselves at the margins of their own fields, and are able to view themselves as insiders from the outside, as it were. This shifting location from a purely insider perspective, to an insider perspective from the outside, shifts lecturers towards a critical understanding of the teaching of discipline-specific academic literacies. This model, and the· study informing it, theorises the process by which this dual critical identity can be crafted in practice.