Scaffolding academic literacy with indigenous health sciences students: An evaluative study

David Rose, Miranda Rose*, Sally Farrington, Susan Page

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


We report on an action research project that explored the use of an innovative pedagogy, known as Scaffolding Academic Literacy, to accelerate the learning of Indigenous undergraduate health science students at the University of Sydney. The pedagogy encompasses a set of teaching strategies that enable all students to read high level academic texts and successfully use what they learn from reading in their writing. The context of Indigenous adults entering tertiary study and their literacy needs are first outlined, the Scaffolding Academic Literacy pedagogy and its implementation is described, and results of students' literacy development are measured using an assessment tool that combines qualitative analysis with a numerical score to track and compare progress. Results indicate that integrating reading and writing academic skills into the curriculum using the pedagogy accelerated students' academic literacy at above expected rates of development, measured against standard secondary school progression rates, at the same time it enabled students to develop a more thorough understanding of their field of study (The term 'field' is used here both in a general sense as the entire field of activity and knowledge of an academic discipline, and in a specific sense as the elements of the academic field that are realised in a particular text. Crucially an academic field exists only in the texts in which it is realised (spoken and written), see Halliday, M.A.K. (1978). Language as a social semiotic: The social interpretation of language and meaning. London: Edward Arnold and Martin J.R & Rose, D (2007b). Working with discourse: Meaning beyond the clause (2nd ed.). London: Continuum).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-179
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of English for Academic Purposes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008


  • Embedding academic literacy
  • English for academic purposes
  • Health science
  • Indigenous
  • Pedagogy
  • Scaffolding


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