The assessment of academic literacy at pre-university level: a comparison of the utility of academic literacy tests and grade 10 Home Language results
MetadataShow full item record
The definition of academic literacy utilised for this study proposes that the distinction-making activity accompanying academic discourse constitutes what makes academic discourse unique, which at the same time also discloses that academic discourse is a distinctive language with its own conditions, different from other lingual spheres, as opposed to earlier definitions which often took a closed view of language, regarding it as consisting of sound, form and meaning. A construct deriving from such a specific definition of academic discourse therefore acknowledges the shift in focus of language instruction and assessment brought on by the communicative approach. An academic literacy test designed to establish the academic literacy levels of prospective tertiary education students should therefore be aligned with this construct. For this study, two academic literacy tests were administered to two groups of Grade 10 students in order to determine how accurately these tests would disclose the students’ levels of ability to handle language for learning. The students’ school marks were then compared to the marks received for the academic literacy tests. Although the school language marks predicted the general academic performance of the test population more accurately than the proposed academic literacy tests, the second test used came close to predicting these levels almost as accurately as the school marks. Read in conjunction with a number of other current studies, this result, however, still emphasises the significance of and need for well-designed, construct-based and correctly pitched (as regards level) academic literacy tests.