Past projects


Spaces in Doctoral Education: An Online Symposium

$2,000.00 (partially funded)

Susan Mowbray (Western Sydney), Juliet Lum (Macquarie University)

This online symposium aims to bring together Directors and literacy support staff in HDR to discuss how to promote engagement, progression and retention of HDR candidates.

Halliday and ALL: The Linguistic Theory of Michael Halliday and its Contribution to ALL Practice


Tim Moore, Rosemary Clerehan, Helen Drury, and Andrew Johnson

Michael Halliday, the founder of Systemic Functional Linguistics, died this year. Halliday’s contribution to our understandings of language and its uses in the world is acknowledged as being huge, described variously as ‘catalytic’ and ‘revolutionary’ (Cope and Kalantzis, 1994) and as ‘a theory of language whose resources are unmatched’ (Schleppegrell, 2018).

The influence of Halliday’s work has been felt in many domains, including in our own area of Academic Language and Learning, going back to the beginnings of the field in Australia in the 1970s and 80s. Since that time, there has been a steady stream of practitioners and researchers who have  drawn on the framework in relation to many aspects of ALL work: academic and disciplinary discourses; issues and problems in student writing; language assessment; classroom and social interactions in the academy, among others.

We have framed the symposium around the following aims:

  • To generally pay tribute to the contribution of Michael Halliday to our field.
  • To host a range of papers exploring ways in which Halliday’s linguistics have informed (and can inform) ALL work
  • To introduce Halliday’s ideas to AALL members who are less familiar with SFL’s foundational concepts.

The event will consist of several keynote addresses, parallel papers, and other formats. Speakers will include:  Gordon Taylor (ex Monash); Rob McCormack (ex Victoria University).

ALL in a Changing Institutional and Technological Environment: Opportunities and Challenges


Leighana Thornton (ACU) and Arlene Harvey (University of  Sydney)

The aim is to bring together ALL practitioners to share knowledge about existing and future strategic positioning of online ALL support.

Strategies and Practices for Integrating Communication Skills Across the Curriculum

$600 (partially funded)

Meriel Griffiths UWA

The symposium will bring discipline specialists and ALL practitioners together to discuss current practices and to develop a coordinated, integrated approach to communication skills development.

2017 projects

Embedded academic language and learning – Ways of being and ways of working

$2, 620.45

Tony Cannell  University of Sydney Business School

The most sustainable method to embed ALL in the curriculum should be systematic across a degree program rather than ad hoc which often relies on the personalities of the collaborators of ALL and faculty. It is through language we think about an idea, read about it and evaluate it so analysis and communication are inextricably entwined. Given that some Business Schools in Australian universities have or wish to have AACSB  accreditation, it is fortuitous that ALL educators can leverage off this process which includes a review of assessments, course mapping, assurance of learning and a review of CLO and SLOs, to clearly identify where ALL input can be most effective. This forum aims to provide the impetus for institutions to understand and explore ways of being and working within the expanding field of faculty embedded academic language and learning support and to open a space for understanding how the conceptual framing of course mapping informs the application of pedagogy and practice. Developing sound practice accordant with the requirements of accreditation is critical to providing high quality learning experiences for students as they develop disciplinary specific academic and professional skills.

ALL Managers/Heads’ The Toolbox


Elena Verezub (Swinburne) and Bronwyn James (University of Sydney)

This project aims at developing an online toolbox housed on the ICALLD website which will contain hands-on tips from current Managers/Heads of Australian and, potentially, overseas (e,g, New Zealand and Canada) Academic Language and Learning Centres, contextualized leadership initiatives, reporting protocols, ‘managing up’ strategies, and ‘positioning’ strategies within our local and national higher education contexts and contextualised best practice examples. The tool box will also provide ideas that can inspire managers to take those ideas a step further and implement or use them as a spring board for improving existing initiatives or creating new ones.

2016 projects

Human and computer impressions of written texts: How can their comparison inform approaches to assessment?


Ingrid Wijeyewardene University of New England

In the current higher education context in Australia, the potential role of computer-based, automated assessment of students’ academic writing is an area of growing interest. There is strong appeal in the idea that computers could be used to save time and reduce the costs associated with the labour intensive process of assessing written work. With academic language professionals being asked to “do more with less”, the effective use of computational tools to assist in the assessment of writing may represent a crucial element of ongoing effectiveness in the academic language teaching and learning context. However, fundamental questions about the pedagogical validity of the use of computational tools in the assessment of academic writing remain unanswered. How do computer-generated and human–generated impressions of academic writing compare? What can a computer-generated evaluation provide that a human cannot? What can a human-generated evaluation provide that a computer cannot? Further, how can the answers to these questions inform contemporary approaches to assessing academic writing?

This project seeks to address these questions by evaluating the academic writing produced by students enrolled in a foundations program in the Australian higher education context using two alternative approaches. One approach will involve the evaluation of writing by a small panel of expert academic language professionals. The other approach will involve the evaluation of the same texts with a freely available, web-based, state-of-the-art computational tool, Coh-Metrix (McNamara, Graessser, McCarthy and Cai, 201 4).

This project aims to compare computer and human generated evaluation of student written work with a view to inform best practice in the assessment of academic writing in the current and emerging higher education context. This research has the potential to immediately inform improved approaches to the assessment of academic writing. It will result in the generation of empirical data that will broaden the existing body of knowledge relating to the respective role of computers and humans in higher education assessment. This research will result in academic output of relevance to theorists and practitioners with interests in the field of language assessment and computers in higher education.

Promoting National Collaboration among ALL Centres: Creating a Sustainable Future


Elena Verezub Swinburne University of Technology & Fiona Henderson Victoria University

The proposed activity brings together the immediate Managers, Coordinators and Directors of all Australian university ALL units. Occasionally at the biennial AALL conference there is time to do networking formally or informally. In 2013 this occurred formally which was positively received by the ‘Heads’. However, at our last conference in 2015 there was not a formal opportunity for ‘Heads’ to meet. Whilst informal talks occurred these were neither as successful nor as inclusive. This gap in renewing our knowledge of each other’s operations, even unit and people titles, means that our voice is weaker. In a climate of siloed faculties and departments, this proposal aims to build an ALL leaders network which in turn can help “strengthen our voice” within the university sector.

Building capacity for the design, validation and implementation of post-entry language assessments (PELAs)


Maggie McAlinden  Curtin University

Under TEQSA all Australian universities are required to have processes that identify students who are at risk and provide support across all courses of study. PELAs are now widespread in Australian Universities with many institutions mandating a PELA for all commencing students. In many cases, the design and implementation of PELAs have been the responsibility of ALL professionals who have varying expertise in design and validation of diagnostic language tests. In this context, there is a need for ALL staff to be supported to develop their skills and knowledge in this area, particularly as PELA processes may come under increasing scrutiny from TEQSA.

The proposed symposium, to take place in January 2017 at Curtin University in Perth, will include seminar presentations on design and validation of language assessments by experts followed by practical workshops designed and co-facilitated by the presenters. The symposium will be held in WA and hosted by Curtin University with support from Murdoch, ECU, UWA and Notre Dame.

Enhancing doctoral learning: Empowering supervisors to give effective writing-related feedback to multilingual doctoral scholars writing in English as an Additional Language


Dr Monica Behrend, UniSA  & Dr Meeta Chatterjee-Padmanabhan, UoW

This project aims to investigate the processes and practices of feedback on doctoral writing for supervisors and students. In doing so, it aims to develop deeper insights into the role of effective written feedback in multilingual doctoral spaces. To begin with, insights from reviewing the literature will be gathered. This will be followed by a systematic collection of data through interviews with HDR supervisors, HDR scholars and ALL professionals working. To date, there are no studies that distinguish the perceptions on giving and receiving feedback by multilingual supervisors or multilingual doctoral students. However, anecdotally, we hear both supervisors and HDR doctoral students articulate their difficulties in conceptualising and interpreting feedback.

Our study proposes to address the following key question: What are the processes and practices of providing and receiving effective feedback on thesis drafts in multilingual spaces?

Several research outcomes are envisioned: online resources, a journal article and workshop presentations at the AALL conference in Nov. 2017. Of these outcomes, the key one will be the development of a repository of resources useful for supervisors, HDR scholars and AALL practitioners.

2015 projects

A national stocktake of numeracy provision in enabling courses in Australian Higher Education (HE)


Evonne Irwin, Sally Baker and Ben Carter (University of Newcastle)

There is a growing argument for the inclusion of numeracy in a broad and expansive definition of academic literacies; indeed, this notion has been proprosed as an agenda item at the 2015 AALL Annual General Meeting. Attention to numeracy in many areas of education has traditionally been backgrounded at the expense of language and literacies but it is arguably the case that numeracy is a language in its own right; for example, mathematicians make the case that calculus is the language of Physics. Therefore, turning a more focused lense onto numberacy is a core part of engaging with academic literacies.

The project aims to audit enabling programs to develop a comprehensive overview of academic literacies including numeracy and explore how numeracy is included and embedded within Australian enabling programs.


Paper published in JALL 12(1):

Theoretical frameworks informing in-discipline language development transforming perceptions and practice


Alisa Percy, Honglin Chen, Emily Purser, Celeste Rossetto, Catriona Taylor, Leonie Watson (University of Wollongong). Kerry Hunter, Caroline San Miguel, Rosalie Goldsmith, Adam Aitken, Neela Griffiths, Deborah Nixon (UTS)

ALL educators can and do draw on a range of intellectual traditions and theoretical resources to inform their work but as more attention is given to the upscalin of curriculum-integrated English language work, we argue that it is timely to develop a coherent theoretical and pedagogical approach for framing, enabling and evaluating this work to ensure its visibility and sustainability. This proposed AALL symposium will bring together AALL educators and researchers to share and discuss the various theoretical frameworks that inform and guide our practices in integrating English Language education across the curriculum. The one-day event will consist of keynote addresses by two invited speakers, one international and one national, with whom staff at UOW collaborate, as well as presentations from various Australian institutions, and a final panel discussion session. The invited speakers bring expertise in developing and implementing specific theoretical frameworks informing academic writing development within their institutions.