University Literacies: French Students at a Disciplinary ‘Threshold’?

Isabelle Delcambre, Christiane Donahue

Abstract


The study reported here is based on an extensive questionnaire distributed to about 650 students at three French universities and one Belgian university in five disciplines. The main objective of the study was to describe the links between university writing and the disciplines by inventorying the kinds of university writing students do (academic and scientific/research-based writing) and identifying the thresholds they cross. The main result was that the pieces of writing considered as representative varied considerably according to the university discipline. We found both a pronounced disciplinary specificity with regard to the writing cited as being representative of their courses by the students, at degree level, and a clear dichotomy between the pieces of writing required at degree level and at master’s level. From these two main results, it can be verified that the disciplines are frameworks for the students’ perceptions of university writing practices. Our findings argue for the learning of writing at the university as an ongoing activity at liminal points, as students negotiate in between secondary/post-secondary, in between earlier and later years of the undergraduate cycle, in between that cycle and the master’s cycle, in between disciplines, and in between internalized personal norms and norms (perceived) of faculty.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18552/joaw.v1i1.6

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