Original Research - Special Collection: Literacy in practice

Pre-service teacher investment through dialogic action learning

Ilse Fouché
Reading & Writing | Vol 15, No 1 | a452 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v15i1.452 | © 2024 Ilse Fouché | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 September 2023 | Published: 22 January 2024

About the author(s)

Ilse Fouché, Division of Languages, Literacies and Literatures, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: A lack of student ‘buy-in’ and engagement are often major obstacles in academic literacy courses. To create a dialogic learning environment which encourages student investment and challenges traditional student-lecturer hierarchies of power, the curriculum of a first-year academic literacy course at a South African university was reconceptualised around an action-learning project.

Objectives: The aim is to determine whether the reconceptualised course enabled dialogic learning that fostered a sense of investment in students.

Method: An interpretivist paradigm was followed, drawing on a qualitative research approach. To explore the nature of student investment, discourse analysis was used to analyse group reflections submitted at the end of the 21-week course. Student reflections were coded thematically using an inductive approach.

Results: These reflections indicate that specific mechanisms need to be in place for effective dialogic engagement. If in place, findings suggest that the dialogic approach could encourage critical thinking, help students to develop problem-solving skills, lead to cognisance of multiple perspectives, deepen understanding of course material and expectations, promote inclusivity, and encourage reflection on the learning process.

Conclusion: This study indicates that purposefully embedding a dialogic approach into a curriculum through purpose-driven group activities, can lead to more engaged learning.

Contribution: The paper contributes to the field of academic literacy studies by showing how academic literacy practitioners may use the now-established pedagogies of action-learning and dialogic teaching and learning to design courses that create an enabling environment for students to draw on deep approaches to learning.


dialogic teaching and learning; investment; deep approaches to learning; literacy; action-learning; higher education.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education


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