Hear From Dr. Donna Velliaris

Acculturating to University: ALL Together Now

By IGI Global on Oct 13, 2022
Students at the HE level should be capable—to varying degrees—of defending opinions, drawing inferences, evaluating facts, generating ideas, investigating situations, making comparisons, probing alternatives, questioning truisms, raising doubts, and solving problems, to mention but a few examples. Thus, students with under-developed academic skills will, in all likelihood, be challenged by the academic demands of post-secondary education.
…much of the discussion about higher education’s future fails to address the elephants in the room: uncertain and uneven skills, learning and postgraduation employment outcomes; incoherent curricula; arbitrary degree requirements; inequitable access to high-demand majors; and an academic experience that consists of disconnected classes without enough sufficient substantive, constructive feedback or personalized advising and mentoring. —Inside Higher Ed, 3 August 2022
Transition into a new academic culture typically requires students to acquire high(er) order skills to adapt to the disciplinary culture of their institution (HEI). Many students will absorb information by listening carefully, taking notes, and reviewing lecture content online. Oftentimes, however, educative instruction—with its emphasis on the coverage of content—is designed as though ‘recall’ were equivalent to ‘knowledge’. Indeed, the professor’s role should be to challenge learners’ critical thinking, not dictate or attempt to proceduralize it.

Despite making expectations clear, transition can be tough and may take some students longer than others. With that in mind, Academic Language and Learning (ALL), support services encompass an array of educational deliverables such as, but not limited to: academic coaching; guided study groups; help desks; intense summer and winter programs; learning advisors; peer tutoring; semester seminars; skills workshops; supplemental classes; and volunteer mentors. Such support may be provided to: individual students (e.g., face-to-face consultations, writing center); specific student populations (e.g., non-English speakers, students with disabilities); and/or open to all students within the HEI.

Advising today is grounded in teaching and learning and involves holistic, proactive, and data-informed approaches to support students on their path towards a degree... Proactive advising provides customized outreach and early interventions to keep students on track and ensure limited resources are directed to those students with the greatest needs. Research indicates students who feel connected to an institution are more likely to persist. —News: University of Wisconsin System, 19 August 2022
Academic Language and Learning Support Services in Higher Education
Prof. Donna Velliaris (Independent Scholar, Singapore)
©2020 | 243 pgs. | EISBN13: 9781799828808
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  • Suitable for Academicians, Academic Advisers, Mentors, Curriculum Designers, Counsellors, Administrators
  • Covers Topics such as Academic Advising, Academic Technology Services, & Mentor Programs
  • Excellent Addition to Your Institution's Library
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ALL support approaches help foster effective partnerships, not merely to get everyone involved, but to demonstrate genuine efforts to enact long-term outcomes. Increasing and embedding ALL support offerings helps to advance students’ ability to assimilate new ideas and to learn at a deeper-level through exploration of how concepts relate to their prior knowledge. Two methodologies that can increase alignment and bridge the learning gap are ‘integration’ and ‘scaffolding’.

  • Integration involves the process of linking new knowledge to old and modifying and enriching existing knowledge. By increasing the number of access points students have to new information, they will more likely comprehend and retain that new learning. In other words, activating related schemata—no matter how small scale—better engages learners.
  • Scaffolding involves exposure to model readings and assignments where evidence of critical thought is explicitly highlighted thereby reducing ambiguities inherent in the discourse community. Scaffolding can operate at a controlled, guided or independent level.

It is through such inclusive practices that tertiary-level students can more successfully acculturate to university life and come to ‘connect’ with the academic literacies of their chosen discipline.

Significantly, with greater confidence, students will be more equipped to address issues that may lead to academic anxiety and withdrawal. That is, provision of timely academic support may not only serve to increase students' success during the first year, but also increase the chance that they will persevere through to degree completion.
Skeptics may criticize more aggressive advising and communication outreach as unnecessary coddling. But… it’s reasonable for students to need extra guidance when they make the transition from small high school classes with highly involved teachers to large college classes that offer less instructional support… it’s still up to students to actually do their assignments. —EdSurge, 8 June 2022

ALL support is an element of a HE student’s academic journey that can be harnessed as a valuable tool to help them achieve their scholarly goals, while also amplifying a HEI’s ability to reach their own educational mission. Assuredly, elevating ALL success-oriented strategies and support, will aid in augmenting the potential of every student transitioning to HE.
About Dr. Donna Velliaris

Donna Velliaris
Donna M. Velliaris holds two Graduate Certificates: (1) Australian Studies; and (2) Religious Education, two Graduate Diplomas: (1) Secondary Education; and (2) Language and Literacy Education, as well as three Master’s degrees: (1) Educational Sociology; (2) Studies of Asia; and (3) Special Education. In 2010, Dr Velliaris graduated with a PhD in Education focused on the social/educational ecological development of school-aged transnational students in Tokyo, Japan. Her primary research interests include human ecology, schools as cultural systems, study abroad, and Third Culture Kids (TCKs). With publication of over 30 book chapters, titles comprise Academic reflections: Disciplinary acculturation and the first-year pathway experience in Australia [Garnet]; Conceptualizing four ecological influences on contemporary ‘Third Culture Kids’ [Palgrave Macmillan]; Culturally responsive pathway pedagogues: Respecting the intricacies of student diversity in the classroom [IGI Global]; Metaphors for transnational students: A moving experience [Cambridge Scholars]; and The other side of the student story: Listening to the voice of the parent [Sense]. This is Dr Velliaris’ sixth edited book with IGI Global, following the titles: (1) Handbook of research on study abroad programs and outbound mobility (2016); (2) Handbook of research on academic misconduct in higher education (2016); (3) Study abroad contexts for enhanced foreign language learning (2017); (4) Prevention and detection of academic misconduct in higher education (2019); and (5) Academic mobility programs and engagement: Emerging research and opportunities (2019).

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of IGI Global.


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