Recognition of diverse students’ experiential and multimodal resources for access

Arlene Archer

Punctum, 5(1): 10-23, 2019
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2019.0003


Students come to Higher Education with a range of experiential and semiotic resources from their home and educational environments. Experiential resources include rural/urban lifestyles, local knowledges, and ‘cultural capital’ in the broadest sense (Bourdieu 1991). Semiotic resources include spoken, written, gestural, spatial and visual competencies. Some of these resources are valued in Higher Education, whereas others less so. This has implications for pedagogy, including assessment practices. For instance, some students may be able to perform better in an oral rather than a written exam, or in an assessment conducted in their home language rather than in English. Others may feel alienated from the content or structure of the assessment, as it may not have resonances in their previous experiences. ‘Recognition’ is about firstly seeing the resources that students bring with them, and secondly about valuing these resources by including them in the curriculum and in formal assessment practices. This recognition of students’ resources is key to a transformative agenda in Higher Education. Yet, recognizing students’ ‘brought along’ resources in contexts of high diversity (like South Africa) can be difficult. This paper proposes a social semiotic framework for assessing texts across modes and also outlines a number of principles for recognition of students’ resources.

KEYWORDS: recognition, assessment, access, social semiotics, student resources
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