Implementing Academic Literacy Provision Institution-Wide in an EMI Context: A Case Study

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


English medium instruction (EMI) in higher education has seen significant growth globally. Along with this growth has been expansion in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses to meet students’ academic language and literacy needs. In EAP courses in both EMI and Anglophone contexts, there has been an increasing push toward greater discipline specificity. While there is significant evidence to support such approaches to the development of students’ academic literacy, academic literacy provision in EAP courses remains largely generic. Studies in the U.K and Australia provide strong evidence to support the implementation of tailored academic literacy provision university wide, but research evidencing this is rare globally and absent in the EMI context. This single case study aims to investigate the implementation of genre-based, discipline-specific academic literacy provision applied in credit-bearing EAP courses in one university transitioning to partial EMI. Using questionnaire, observation, focus group, interview, and documentary data, this study seeks to gain an in-depth understanding of the implementation of university-wide discipline-specific academic literacy provision. A mixed-methods design has been adopted to ensure that the study takes multiple stakeholder perspectives into account and triangulates the findings from a variety of data sources. Analysis of the data has focused on understanding the emic perspectives of the research participants: the discipline lecturers, the EAP tutors, and the students, and has also benefited from my own position as researcher and practitioner.

The findings of this study indicate that the collaborative, discipline-specific approach that underpinned the development of genre-based learning materials and the delivery of the credit-bearing EAP modules was perceived by both the discipline lecturers and the EAP tutors as feasible, highly relevant for students, and as useful for both themselves and their students in better understanding conventions of the target genres. However, the results of the interviews with the EAP tutors also highlight the challenges faced by the tutors in maintaining collaboration with discipline lecturers and in overcoming uncertainties around adopting the new pedagogical approach. The findings from the student focus groups and student questionnaire reveal that the students also see the approach as useful for developing their genre knowledge, but that there is a stark contrast in student satisfaction with academic literacy support across different faculties and departments. Still, the analysis of genre-related episodes in the classroom observations corroborate the students’ perceptions of their own genre knowledge development, which came through in the focus groups. Overall, this study contributes to an understanding of the challenges and successes of implementing university-wide academic literacy support which is tailored to meet students’ specific needs, extends research in genre-based writing studies, particularly in terms of the use of genre-related episodes as a methodological tool, and complements scholarship focused on the experiences of EAP practitioners transitioning from teaching English for general academic purposes to teaching English for specific academic purposes.
Date of Award1 Jun 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorUrsula Wingate (Supervisor) & Chris Tang (Supervisor)

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