‘Diagnosing’ academic literacy needs in higher education: deploying the ethical resources of disability studies to interrogate information sharing in educational transitions

Nicole Matthews*, Jane Simon, Elaine Kelly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The rapid expansion of Australia’s universities has led to a new emphasis on identifying and developing this broader cohort’s academic literacies. Enhancing students’ ability to work with the specific means of communication in formal education has come to be seen as key to both social justice and academic excellence. ‘Diagnostic testing’ of such skills soon after enrolment is one strategy often adopted to identify and support those seen as ‘at risk’ of withdrawal or failure. This paper draws on the perspectives of disability studies to reframe both such ‘diagnostic’ processes and the way information generated from them might be shared. We argue that there are two approaches which can be valuable ‘ethical resources’ for institutions seeking to be responsive to a more diverse range of students. These are: (a) the nuanced consideration of the consequences of identifying and labelling students, as found in disability studies, and (b) the experience of disabled students themselves of managing information about their particular needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-457
Number of pages13
JournalPedagogy, Culture and Society
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2016

Keywords

  • Disability studies
  • academic literacies
  • early diagnostic assessments
  • information sharing
  • stigma

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