Contrasting Constructions of Students' Literacy-Related Experiences at a Historically Black South African University
Boughey, Christine Mary
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In recent years, many long held assumptions about language and literacy have come to be questioned by so-called "critical" discourses. The result of this questioning at a theoretical level has resulted in a concomitant interrogation of the practices and methodologies intended to develop both phenomena. Situated against the background of this critical questioning, this thesis examines the appropriacy of interventions designed to develop students' academic literacy at the University of Zululand, a historically black South African University. It does this by asking two questions about students' literacy-related experiences. The first question, "How does the University of Zululand construct students' literacy-related experiences?", is answered using an analysis of Senate and Faculty documents, extant study and course guides and archived examination papers. In answering the question, the focus is on the identification and exploration of the ideologies which underpin dominant understandings of students' literacy-related experiences. The answer to the second question, "Is there a way to construct students' literacy-related experiences which is different to dominant understandings at the University of Zululand?", uses ethnographic research to support an analysis of students' written texts produced in a first year Systematic Philosophy class to "talk back" to the dominant understanding of students' literacy-related experiences identified as a response to the first research question. The analysis of students' writing is conducted using a systemic functional linguistic framework (Halliday, 1973, 1978, 1994). A systemic framework relates three different kinds of meanings evident in texts (experiential, interpersonal and textual meanings) to the contexts in which those texts are produced. The framework was used because of its potential to account for the form of students' texts by referring to a mismatch between the expectations of the dominant contexts of culture and situation (the university and the Systematic Philosophy class in which the research was conducted respectively) and the contexts which students themselves use as a reference point.
- Master of Arts