Minority college students and tacit “Codes of Power”: Developing academic discourses and identities

Citation
White, J. W., & Lowenthal, P.R. (2011, Winter). Minority college students and tacit “Codes of Power”: Developing academic discourses and identities. The Review of Higher Education, 34(2), 283-318.

Abstract

Using the theoretical lenses of the sociocultural nature of literacy (New Literacy Studies), sociolinguistics, discourse communities, and resistance theory, this article posits that achieving academic success on a college campus is, in large part, predicated upon students’ respective exposure to academic discourse and willingness to learn and employ it. By “academic discourse,” we mean the specific yet tacit discursive style expected of participants in the academy. Unfortunately, not all K-12 students receive the same access to or have the same motivation for learning and appropriating academic literacy. Our study highlights the fact that academic literacy is seldom explicitly taught in the K-12 setting; rather, students are expected to learn its use through exposure or, in many cases, through coercion (Bunch, 2009). Though academic literacy is essential to future academic success, it remains a significant part of the hidden curriculum of K-12 schools and universities (Gildersleeve, 2006; Gutiérrez, 1995; Margolis, 2001; Margolis, Soldatenko, Acker, & Gair, 2001).

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