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In the Western policy landscape, students from diverse cultural, linguistic, economic and other backgrounds are increasingly represented in an expanded tertiary education system. Structural and technological changes have challenged traditional pedagogies designed for more elite cohorts, and shifted the boundaries of textual practices in both universities and professional worlds. In spite of these momentous trends, university literacies often remain tacit and inaccessible to those new to them, and pedagogies rarely explicitly engage with the complexities of these shifting boundaries. University students unfamiliar with these tacit literacies can become marginalised and ultimately struggle with the literacy demands of their academic and professional worlds. This is problematic in social work education, as professional practice demands complex written and oral communication, with potentially significant social and legal repercussions. This paper reports on pedagogies initiated by action research in a Bachelor of Social Work programme in an Australian University. Pedagogies were introduced to make elite codes explicit, use students’ literacies as assets for learning and encourage ‘code switching’ between literacy practices to resist colonising into more powerful literacies. Students’ capacities in academic and professional literacies were significantly enhanced by these practices, and their cultural inheritances valorised, encouraging their contribution to the social work discipline.


Learning and Teaching Centre

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Journal Article

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