• Understanding the academic literacy experiences of adult undergraduate students at a four-year public institution

      Davis, James Earl, 1960-; Brooks, Wanda M., 1969-; Johnson, Jennifer M., 1970-; Shorr, Lori (Temple University. Libraries, 2020)
      Adult undergraduate students (age 25 or older) now make up 28% of the undergraduate student population at four-year public institutions. Using a sociocultural perspective of literacy, which posits that literacy and language are inextricably tied to identity, this qualitative multiple case study explores the adult undergraduate student experience with academic literacies: the specific languages of the university, both of its culture as a whole and the academic disciplines. Additionally, this study examines how the out-of-school literacies that adult undergraduate students acquire throughout their lives compete with, complement, or challenge their experiences with academic literacies. Eight diverse cases were studied, and data collection included interviews, classroom observation, and analysis of student writing. The study found that collisions between academic and out-of-school literacies were sources of both discovery and anxiety, and that anxiety was primarily associated with writing. The study also found that the adults displayed a desire for deep learning, and benefited in many ways from a lack of social relationships on campus. Relationships with professors could classify professors as teachers, colleagues, or supervisors and that high levels of social competence helped adult undergraduate students navigate these relationships and other academic challenges. As the undergraduate student body changes, and more “traditional” students begin to share the characteristics of adults, if faculty and administrators can better understand how AUS learn and engage with the language of the university, they will be able to develop pedagogical and institutional practices that can better support all students.