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Issues in Educational Research, 2022, Vol 32(1), 264-291.
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An investigation of first year university students' confidence in using academic literacies

Shashi Nallaya, James E. Hobson and Tamra Ulpen
University of South Australia, Australia

Commencing students in universities today are very diverse with regards to their academic preparation, language, and cultural background. Some of these students are also first in family to attend university. With such diverse student profiles and previous learning experiences, it is possible that some students may not be confident to employ the academic literacies required in their study program. This paper reports on a mixed-method case study undertaken at an Australian university, to explore commencing students' confidence in using academic literacies at the start of their study program and after they had completed two semesters of instruction. Data were collected from 120 students at Time 1 and 54 students at Time 2 of the study. The study found that some students were uncertain of completing some task types such as case studies, article reviews and critical reflections. Students also lacked confidence employing discipline-specific vocabulary, critical thinking, and critical writing skills. Although, students' confidence levels in employing academic literacies improved overall after two semesters of instruction, confidence in writing critically appeared to remain low. Furthermore, students with English as an additional language (EAL), those studying externally and students who had taken a break from their studies, identified challenges in multiple areas of academic literacies.
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Authors: Dr Shashi Nallaya has been extensively involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of English language and teacher training programs at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. As an Academic Developer at UniSA she is responsible for facilitating the implementation of innovative curriculum through mentoring, staff development sessions and resources.
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3098-8112
Email: shashi.nallaya@unisa.edu.au

Dr James Hobson is an Online Educational Designer at the Teaching Innovation Unit and develops online courses for UniSA Online. Previously, he worked in one of the exam boards in the UK where he got involved with online learning and supporting the adoption of digital assessment technologies.
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1230-6053
Email: james.hobson@unisa.edu.au

Ms Tamra Ulpen has extensive experience in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) and has worked in English language schools in Japan and in Australia. She plays an integral role at UniSA College in supporting students acquire academic literacy for university study and teaching the values of academic integrity.
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9671-0554
Email: tamra.ulpen@unisa.edu.au

Please cite as: Nallaya, S., Hobson, J. E. & Ulpen, T. (2022). An investigation of first year university students' confidence in using academic literacies. Issues in Educational Research, 32(1), 264-291. http://www.iier.org.au/iier32/nallaya.pdf

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Created 7 March 2022. Last correction: 7 March 2022. Website: Roger Atkinson [rjatkinson@bigpond.com]