Learner identity and academic literacy skills acquisition in students at the University of Bolton

Sarah Telfer and Vivienne Newton from the University of Bolton discuss academic literacy skills acquisition in relation to learner identity in their poster presentation at BALEAP PIM in Glasgow.

The University of Bolton offers a wide range of academic and vocational qualifications, a flexible approach to studying and a strong focus on preparing students for their professional futures. It attracts learners of all ages from diverse backgrounds and many fall into the classification of ‘non-traditional’ students who do not possess the learner identity associated with those who typically progress to university. With a mix of formal qualifications and experience in employment, students may have little knowledge of academic writing or the study skills needed to be successful in higher education. For these learners the support services encountered during their early experiences of university can play a significant part in their retention and long-term outcomes. This study offers valuable insight into the individual student learning experience at the University of Bolton through evaluating how learners identify themselves and how this may impact upon their academic literacy and study skills acquisition. It investigates social class, habitus and learner identity and examines the role these factors play in the acquisition of academic literacy and study skills. The report evaluates research into the effective academic literacy models and considers what inventions have been implemented in other universities. Quantitative and qualitative data has been compiled to investigate the social, economic and educational backgrounds of students and whether students feel prepared when arriving at the University. Through a series of focus groups and a thematic analysis, the support mechanisms that students have engaged with and possible links between social background and skills competency has been explored. Conclusions indicate that although many students do successfully engage with the current services on offer at Bolton, taking into account perceived identity and an academic literacies approach may increase engagement and positive outcomes.


sarah-telferSarah Telfer is a Senior Lecturer in Teacher Training on Initial Teacher Education ITE) programmes at the University of Bolton. She is currently completing her Doctorate in Education and her specialist area of research focus is on the use of storytelling to promote language and literacy skills.

vivienne-newtonVivienne Newton is Student President at the University of Bolton. Vivienne has recently completing her Masters in Inclusive Education and her specialist area of research focus is on learner identity and academic literacy skills acquisition. Vivienne tweets @VivienneNewt0n



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