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  • 2018hidalgophd

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Academic literacies in policy and practice

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2018
Number of pages220
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In Mexico, where this study takes place, the role of writing and reading as part of the culture of universities is changing in line with changing national and institutional policies. In this thesis, I investigate how academic literacy practices (in particular reading and writing practices) are constructed in policy documents, in interviews with both students and lecturers, which include talk around texts written by students. I explore the academic literacy practices of undergraduate students in two disciplines, Education and Chemistry. I combine two frameworks: critical discourse studies (Fairclough, 2001, 2003) and academic literacies (Lea & Street, 2006; Lillis, 2001) to investigate how broader social and institutional contexts influence specific academic literacy practices reported by university students and staff. My analysis reveals that academic literacy practices are constructed in terms of a human capital model, which connects what happens at universities with the economic development of the country as a whole. Academic literacy practices are also constructed in terms of their functional value, and I find that reading, not writing, is seen as responding to broader demands since it is ubiquitous in all the four policy documents. Alongside the emphasis on reading in the policy documents, writing is constructed as a skill that students are supposed to have already mastered when they start university. In interviews with students and lecturers, I found that they share this last view; they focus on the arguably more superficial aspects of the writing students do. In addition to establishing how academic literacy practices are constructed, a key contribution of the thesis is to illustrate how a triangulated analysis of data drawn from different levels of context can be carried out in this field.