Literacy development as 'a marginalised pedagogical service enterprise1' or as social practice in the disciplines?

Judy Seligmann, Sarah Gravett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper discusses one of the main findings of an inquiry into a literacy bridging2 course for Education students at a comprehensive university. The course was designed for students whose school education did not prepare them for higher education. The study shows how the course has been marginalised from mainstream university activity. The authors argue that writing is a social practice which depends on a community and its discourses and that university writing centres, being detached from this community, therefore have a limited function in academic development. They present a sociocultural perspective on literacy, derived from Vygotskian theory, highlighting writing as an epistemic tool, invoking their design-based (DBR) inquiry to illustrate the operationalisation of this theory. The authors tell of the struggle of the designers of writing courses to fashion an epistemic fit between the technology of writing academically and the 'distant' disciplinary coursework students are expected to perform, showing how the administration of the university had located this vast academic developmental enterprise outside the mainstream and thus also outside the students' 'zone of proximal development'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-120
Number of pages14
JournalEducation as Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


  • Academic literacies
  • Literacy education
  • Vykotskian theory
  • Writing as epistemic tool
  • Zone of proximal development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Literacy development as 'a marginalised pedagogical service enterprise1' or as social practice in the disciplines?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this