On the Borderline: Writing about Writing, Threshold Concepts of Writing, and Credit-Bearing Academic Writing Subjects in Australia

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


    This paper considers the relevance and application of Writing About Writing (WAW) (Downs & Wardle, 2007; Wardle, 2009) and Threshold Concepts of Writing (TCW) (Adler-Kassner & Wardle, 2015) in the Australian higher education context. These approaches to literacy and writing curriculum development have been developed in the United States context as a critical reinvention of the first-year composition curriculum and as resolving what has been termed the “content problem” – the lack of a consensus about what the discipline of composition should teach in first-year writing classes (Seitz, 2005). Without a strong tradition of first-year writing or an offering of academic writing subjects as credit-bearing parts of the curriculum in Australia, it is not surprising that the discussion or consideration of these ideas has been minimal in this context. However, as this paper will argue, to the extent that such courses or programs are becoming more common in Australian higher education, academic literacy educators face new demands from institutions and students while continuing to respond to perennial misconceptions of their field as being merely a remedial grammar or student support service on the margins of the main teaching and learning work undertaken in disciplines. Insofar as WAW and the TCW literature help to clarify the disciplinary status and goals of literacy programs, the paper argues that they suggest a way forward.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number3
    Pages (from-to)24
    Number of pages36
    JournalAcross the Disciplines
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2019


    • Academic literacies
    • Writing skills
    • Curriculum Development
    • Threshold concepts
    • Disciplines

    Cite this