John Grierson Keynote

Dr Kate Chanock

The Humanities Academic Skills Unit (HASU)
La Trobe University
Bundoora, Victoria.

Dr Kate Chanock is a 'pioneer' of the Australasian LAS profession. It would be difficult to identify a particular aspect of Dr Chanock's service, research and scholarly activities which has not contributed to the development of professional excellence.

In particular though, Dr Chanock's inauguration of the Language and Academic Skills (LAS) Conf

erences - first held at La Trobe University in 1994 - was an enormous breakthrough for an emergent profession which was characterized by marginalisation, isolation and casualisation in relation to the 'mainstream' - be that General Staff or Academic Staff. Since then she has convened, chaired and presented two more LAS Conferences at La Trobe (1996, 2000) and edited the proceedings which have become an important professional development tool.

Characteristic of Dr Chanock's spirit of professional service was her decision to hand over LAS conferences to other convenors and universities, part of her inherent belief in sharing professional knowledge and responsibility. In the early 1990s - while there were nationally prominent and published academic skills advisers/lecturers - Brigid Ballard and John Clanchy at the Australian National University, John Grierson at the University of Western Sydney, Gordon Taylor at Monash University - there was no collective sense of a LAS profession nor consensus about the nature of the work the profession undertook. That there is much more exchange, consensus and collaboration within the profession is a result of Dr Chanock's vision.

Dr Chanock's professional publication record in academic skills advising is not only substantive, but has had a major developmental impact on the nature of the profession. Her publications have addressed the kinds of students with whom we work (e.g. First Years, ANESB, distinguished scholars, students with disabilities); their academic skills and learning needs (e.g. disciplinary language, the writer's voice, developing an argument, the role of lectures); the issues they confront (e.g. understanding marker's comments, computer-based technology, equity and access); and the practice of academic skills advising (e.g. individual consultations, bridging and orientations, dialogic learning, integrating academic skills into the curriculum). In addition she has produced materials and models of advising to support practice (e.g. Just Enough Grammar; An Academic argument: content and structure (video); Study Skills series for ABC TV Open Learning 1994/5). At a professional level she has written/co-edited texts/papers relating to the professional needs of academic skills advisers (e.g. evaluation, Academic Skills Advising: towards a discipline 1995).

In asking Dr Chanock to give the LAS2005 John Grierson Keynote, we salute her vision and contribution to the Australasian LAS Profession.