Developing communication as a graduate outcome: using ‘Writing Across the Curriculum’ as a whole-of-institution approach to curriculum and pedagogy

Rowena Harper, Karen Vered

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    Communication is widely recognised as an important capability for university graduates [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2013). OECD skills outlook 2013: First results from the survey of adult skills. Author. Retrieved from]. Yet, research suggests that it is often not adequately developed by Australian universities, remaining implicit in teaching and assessment. This is in part because Australian universities have historically conceptualised communication not as an outcome of disciplinary study, but as a generic, foundational competency or skill. It has therefore been managed outside the curriculum by establishing academic language and learning units that help students develop written and spoken communication through a range of student services. The services model of communication development is becoming untenable, however, given the increasing cultural and linguistic diversity of students and the recognised importance of communication as a graduate outcome. Whole-of-institution approaches are required to integrate communication into course curricula as a fundamental part of disciplinary learning, and develop the capacity of teaching staff to teach it. This paper explores Writing Across the Curriculum and Writing Inside the Disciplines, two complementary approaches used widely in the US for developing literacy in higher education. They emerged in the 1970s in response to the kind of student diversity now common in Australian universities, and offer institution-wide strategies for developing communication as an essential outcome of study in academic and professional disciplines.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)688-701
    Number of pages14
    JournalHigher Education Research and Development (HERDSA)
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Academic literacy
    • academic writing
    • communication
    • curriculum
    • English language proficiency
    • pedagogy
    • Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC)
    • Writing Inside the Disciplines (WID)


    Dive into the research topics of 'Developing communication as a graduate outcome: using ‘Writing Across the Curriculum’ as a whole-of-institution approach to curriculum and pedagogy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this