Literacy barriers to learning and learner experiences
Pollock, Susan Patricia
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
I requested an 18 month embargo in my submission form.
This research is in two phases. The aim of phase one was to explore the school experiences of learners identified as having literacy barriers to learning. Learners were in Year 8 (age 12-13) at the start of the research and Year 9 (age 13-14) by its conclusion. A case study design and the participatory method of ‘photovoice’ was used to elicit and foreground students’ views and experiences. To date there has been little research in this field using participatory methods. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Findings suggest that the student photographers’ (N=4) were keen to share both their positive and negative experiences of school and in particular the importance they placed on relationships with peers and key staff. The aim of phase two was to use students’ photos, which were developed into individual ‘experience boards’, as a tool to facilitate staff reflections on practice. Three discussion groups (N=7) were held and data were analysed using thematic analysis. Findings were viewed and discussed using the framework of Maslow’s (1943) hierarchy of needs. Staff showed a high level of empathy and a desire to interpret and reflect on the photos. The constructs of feeling safe and secure were significant themes across all discussion groups. Furthermore, the lack of photos explicitly about learning challenged staff beliefs about student experiences and enabled them to acknowledge the importance the student photographers placed on these constructs. The use of photovoice stimulated reflection and is likely to have aided staff to better understand student experiences. There are implications for educational psychology practice in relation to taking a more holistic view of understanding and supporting learners with literacy difficulties and also the use of ‘photovoice’ to elicit and foreground student views and experiences as part of consultation or at a more systemic level.
Doctor of Educational Psychology in Educational Child and Community Psychology