Case Studies

These vignettes have been developed from the themes and issues identified from detailed case studies conducted at a number of Australian universities.

They have been selected to illustrate and explore the complexity of the issues involved in developing a strategy for student English language assessment and development in Australia’s universities; and to convey the lived experience of the various participants.

We hope these vignettes will spark recognition or promote discussion. We welcome your responses and suggestions – whether to provide possible solutions to problems, present an alternative perspective, or simply to tell your story.

The vignettes are presented in the form of narratives which have been developed from the case study data. The texts themselves are compilations from the various sources which contributed to the case studies, and should not be interpreted as the actual words of any individual at the universities concerned.

Vignette 1: Leadership

This vignette describes the contribution that leaders can make to the success or failure of an institutional strategy. Key issues:
• Continuity of leadership
• Commitment of leaders
• Understanding of language issues

Vignette 2: Competition and collaboration

This vignette identifies some of the issues that arose between stakeholders and the beliefs of participants about why they happened. Key issues:
• Co-operation between areas
• Selection of staff to lead strategy
• Competing beliefs and services

Vignette 3: Resourcing

This vignette identifies the perceived effects of different models for funding language development strategies. Key issues:
• Sources of funds
• Resource usage
• Resource continuity

Vignette 4: Sustainability

This vignette examines the factors that can impact on the sustainability of an institutional strategy.
• Continuity of staff
• Mainstreaming of strategy
• Incorporation into governance mechanisms

Vignette 5: Status and roles

This vignette examines differing stakeholder roles and the effect that perceptions of status can have on the process of implementing a language development strategy. Key issues:
• Role of discipline-based academics
• Role and status of language specialists

Vignette 6: Concepts of language

This vignette explores the different views on the nature of language in an academic context. Key issues:
• Approaches to language development
• Understandings of language proficiency
• Measuring language levels