The Role of Academic Discourse in Minority Students' Academic Assimilation

September 2013
American Secondary Education;Fall2013, Vol. 42 Issue 1, p24
Academic Journal
Case Study
Many minority students enter the university without the discursive ''codes of power" that they need both to find academic success and to self-identify as scholars. High schools and college preparatory programs too often ignore the role that academic language and literacy play in success at the college level. Even when academic language is specifically taught, it is often resisted by minority students. Because language is so strongly rooted to culture and identity many minority students see the adoption of academic discourse as "selling out" or "acting White" rather than as a temporary code-switching practice. This paper presents four case studies of first-generation minority college students and how academic discourse (also referred to as academic literacy) played a part in their respective success or failure academically and socially. The paper also suggests research-based solutions for high school teachers, college counselors, and others interested in helping students adapt to the discourse community of the university.


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