Creating a Rich Environment: Co-operation between academic support and disciplinary teaching staff

The emphasis on quality in higher education learning and teaching has heightened appreciation of the role of academic support staff and resulted in increased co-operative efforts between subject teachers and academic support staff. Other researchers have investigated various forms of co-operation, and examples include Murphy and Stewart (2002): subject content assistance; Ramburuth (1999): language development; and Zhu (2004): academic writing. This paper explores the vital role that collaborative relationships can play in the development and presentation of effective student learning programs. There are clear benefits for student learning from contextualised and relevant programs that emerge from these co-operative ventures. At the same time, there are also benefits for staff from both areas. When working with each other in program development staff are introduced to each others’ ways of looking at the world, or ‘literacies’ (Street, 2004). As both perspectives are presented (Lave & Wenger, 1991) a new environment is created, which combines both the academic support and the disciplinary view. This rich environment impacts positively on students, contextualising instruction in the academic support program. The outcome is that students understand the situated nature of successful interaction and communication, and learn that no one approach is suitable for all situations. Thus, students develop understandings at a ‘meta level’, preparing them for future work in unknown settings. In this paper, we explore some facets of the new collaborative environment that meld learning approaches with unstated disciplinary assumptions and expectations. We investigate these relationships and outcomes in relation to some established programs.

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Crosling, Glenda
Wilson, Anne
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Critiquing and reflecting: LAS profession and Practice. Non-refereed Proceedings from the National Biennial Conference, ANU, Canberra
Milnes, Stephen
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