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Perceptions of Literacy Study

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This is a small information presentation produced to highlight findings from a small-scale study for my MA in New Literacies at the University of Sheffield.

The research focuses on children's perceptions of literacy after following the National Literacy Strategy. It also explores whether children's perceptions match with those of their teacher.

Published in: Education
  • Interesting presentation ... I like the research question very much. Depressing finding re the kids' views; but good to see the teachers have a more enlightened view. I wonder how it is that the kids are getting a different view to the teachers. I also wonder if this would be the same in all schools. I wonder how we can help teachers to communicate their view of literacy to the kids - the root of the mismatch must be arund the teachers communicating a different message to the one they hold dear. Fascinating stuff.
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Perceptions of Literacy Study

  1. 1. Perceptions of Literacy Martin Waller MA in New Literacies University of Sheffield
  2. 2. Context Traditional approaches to literacy have focused on print-based decoding skills (Larson and Marsh, 2005; Pahl and Rowsell, 2005) Recent discourse that reading, writing and meaning are situated within social and cultural practices through modes and technologies society provides (Street, 1984; Gee, 1996; New London Group, 1996) The National Literacy Strategy in the UK focused on print-based decoding skills through a ‘literacy hour’ when introduced in 1997
  3. 3. National Literacy Strategy The strategy represents a deeply conservative ideology of what counts as literacy at a time of rapid change (Urquahart, 2002: 33) British teachers were told what to teach, how to teach it and how to define literacy The aim was to present a ‘common language’ that could describe and prescribe the literacy curriculum in the UK
  4. 4. “The common language of the Framework therefore privileges a literacy curriculum in which the study of the formal structures of language and the achievement of organisational textual structures are central” (Urquhart, 2002: 31)
  5. 5. My Research My interest was whether the ‘common language’ of the National Literacy Strategy resulted in teachers and children having the same perceptions of literacy. My question was: Do children’s perceptions of literacy link with those of their teacher after following the National Literacy Strategy Framework for Teaching (DfEE, 1998).
  6. 6. Methodology Qualitative approach with semi-structured interviews - to gain detailed and desired information (Bearne et al, 2007) Groups of six children from both Year 1 (start of primary schooling) and Year 6 (end of primary schooling) were interviewed Class teachers were interviewed separately All participants gave written consent and real names were not used
  7. 7. Analysis I collected far too much data for the project as the children were very keen to talk about literacy. As a result a large amount of the data was not used Interviews were audio recorded and analysed using a coloured category system I had nearly 50 pages of transcripts! I learnt that the research process is ‘messy’ and that research can be very difficult when faced with a ‘mountain’ of data
  8. 8. Findings Both the Year 1 and Year 6 teachers had pluralist views of literacy consistent with Street (1984) and the New London Group (1996) There was a disconnect with children’s perceptions of literacy and its place in the real world (Genishi and Dyson, 2009) The Year 6 children’s views were more consistent with the narrowly conceived definition of literacy presented in the National Literacy Strategy (DfEE, 1998)
  9. 9. Findings The ‘common language’ of the Framework appears to have had more influence on children than teachers Children’s views were consistent with ‘traditionalist’ view of literacy focused on reading and writing print-based texts Teachers views were more consistent with the ‘new’ multiliteracies view of literacy
  10. 10. “Literacy I think is something to do with meaning and making meaning and getting meaning from things and that could be speaking, listening or language. It’s a way of communicating. It’s a skill, it has to be developed and it can be in several different forms” (Year 1 Teacher)
  11. 11. “I think it’s about learning about verbs and different things and stories. Erm like punctuation and different kinds... well English” (Year 6 Child)
  12. 12. Evaluation I found the study very hard work and a huge task to complete In reflection I felt my research area was ‘too big’ for a small-scale research project I learnt that you can actually get through all of your interview transcripts even if it appears daunting! I am pleased with my findings and feel they are consistent with my initial views
  13. 13. Thank you for reading! Martin More at my blog: http://www.changinghorizons.net Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MultiMartin

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