n South African Journal of Higher Education - The intersection between academic literacies and student identities : research in higher education

Volume 18, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Difficulties students experience in attaining the required discipline-specific academic literacy practices were frequently described by the lecturers interviewed in this study as arising from low levels of student motivation. Motivation was vested in the student as an individual attribute, rather than as a factor of the broader context. The student discourses analysed in this study, however, indicated that identity formation played an important role in the extent to which students adopted the literacies of the academy. Students were clearly invested in adopting the practices necessary for membership in new social groups in the higher education environment, but they did not, in general, identify with the academic literacy practices that perform a gate keeping function for success in higher education. These literacy practices were perceived by the students as being confusing, difficult to access and, at times, as alienating from the African identities they valued.

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