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The Reality of Study Support: A Phenomenographic and Activity Theory Analysis.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Fiona Hallett
Publication date2009
Number of pages196
Awarding Institution
Place of PublicationLancaster
  • Lancaster University
Electronic ISBNs9780438570603
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Whilst study support appears to be one of the taken for granted, yet infrequently analysed, features of the higher education landscape increasing student diversity and a move to debate the impact of power, identity and pedagogic discourse on the development of academic literacy signals a climate for change. Nevertheless, within this changing environment very little thinking has taken place about the variation in experience of tutors, support staff and students with respect to activities that are designed to support the development of appropriate academic discourses. This study sets out to explore, and compare, these contrasting experiences of academic endeavour. For the purposes of this study, a phenomenographic approach has been used to interpret variation in experience of study support across three participant groups in a single university: tutors, support staff and students. Activity Theory is then used as a heuristic device to analyse the historical, social and material contexts of these support activities. In this way, a number of 'fuzzy generalisations' (Bassey, 1999) have been generated around skills focussed study support, learner focussed study support and those forms of study support that focus on the literacy practices of an academic community. Tentative conclusions suggest that the experiences articulated in this instance can be interpreted as an indication for increased debate around the definition, and purpose, of study support in higher education and, by extrapolation, the concept of academic literacy.

Bibliographic note

Thesis (Ph.D.)--Lancaster University (United Kingdom), 2009.