On being reflective practitioners: the evaluation of a writing module for first-year students in the Health Sciences
SOUTHERN AFRICAN LINGUISTICS AND APPLIED LANGUAGE STUDIES
Low levels of academic literacy (the ability to successfully engage in the academic discourse, whether it is through reading, writing, listening or speaking) in the language of teaching and learning are widely seen as one of the main reasons for the lack of academic success among South African undergraduate students with high academic potential. To address this problem, and in an attempt to simultaneously increase the overall throughput rates of first-year students, Stellenbosch University introduced the gradual implementation of compulsory academic literacy courses as part of the first-year-curriculum in 2005 - a trend observed not only in South Africa, but also internationally. This article reports on research that is aimed at determining the impact of an academic literacy intervention for first-year students in the Health Sciences. For this intervention, the focus was on the development of students' writing skills, with content-specific material and authentic tasks being used as far as possible. Student writing was assessed before, during and after the intervention, and preliminary conclusions in terms of the impact of the course were drawn as first iteration towards a longitudinal study to measure the effectiveness of this academic literacy intervention.