Living Literacies – Teaching Literacy

International Partnerships – British Academy
(This draft has not been proofed Tuesday, 08 February 2011 – it is a working document, please leave your comments for me to incorporate into the text)
·         Education
·         Critical Discourse Analysis
·         Adult Literacy
Title of Project
·         Living Literacies, Teaching Literacy
Summary of Research
This collaborative project involves the University of Hull (UoH) in the UK and in Africa the University of Ghana (UG). – and / or some other Ghanaian University that offers education (UST)

The research aim is to investigate the discourses that adult educators registered on Diploma, MA and PhD programmes draw upon when conceptualising literacy as a pedagogic subject in order to explore their implications for practice.

There is an accepted orthodoxy amongst adult educators that effective pedagogy draws on the knowledge, practices, beliefs and expectations of adult learners. However, this stance does not always encompass the extent to which adult educators are a) able to critically reflect on the variance between their own notions of literacy and the theories and ideas presented to them during their course of study and b) equipped to use the qualitative methodologies that would enable them to explore their own and their learners’ literacy practices.

The project includes a broader strategy of knowledge transfer and capacity building across both Universities with a focus on curriculum development, e.learning and research methodologies.
Research Project
The proposed partnership involves staff and students based at two institutions: University of Hull (UoH) in the UK and in Africa the University of Ghana (UG). It envisages a mutual exchange of research expertise and capacity building.

Our aim is to investigate the discourses that adult educators registered on Diploma, MA and PhD programmes draw upon when conceptualising literacy as a pedagogic subject in order to explore the implications for their practice.

Three interrelated foci will identify and locate contrasting conceptualisations of literacy
·         Reflexive analysis of the literacy practices of participants – the aim here is through visual autobiography – to open the concept of literacy to critique as an ideologically defined construct  
·         Exploration of a local literacies based on a context defined by participants in which they pay close attention to the uses and significance of literacy in a specific community
·         Detailed observation of adult education encounters. Participants will develop their local literacies into a series of educational encounters and work with local providers in developing curriculum to embed the actual local uses of literacy into programme delivery
Research design and methodology
The initial reflexive analysis of the literacy practices of participants will take place in Ghana. Participants will be students registered across Diploma, Masters and PhD programmes.  Participants will produce visual autobiographical diaries tracing the development of a piece of work required for a programme on which they are registered. This aspect of the research draws on Bourdieu and Passmore to provide a reflexive account of students own literacy practices.  Through a series of peer interviews, video diaries, blogs and podcasts students, recording of naturally occurring data ie seminar discussions and analysis of assignments – participants will trace the production of a piece of writing from inception to completion including a feedback session in which they explore with lecturers and UoH practitioners the approach to the content and process of the assignment (Lillis). This module provides participants with a) material for the reflexive analysis of literacy as practice b) development of their own study skills c) a basis for developing writing for academic purposes of publication

This will be followed through with involving participants in a study of local literacies. Drawing on ethnographic research design the approach will include participant observation, audio visual recording, interviews and focus groups and document analysis.  This may involve small scale projects conducted by individual participants into any aspect of local literacy – trading encounters, travel and transport, dealing with officialdom. The approach would be to use the domains of practice identified by Barton and Hamilton and if necessary to extend or amend those to suit to local context.  Where possible participants will work with local adult education providers to conduct this study. The emphasis is on an exploration of out-of-school literacies. The data analysis will draw some tentative conclusion about these practices and then suggest what the implications of them might be for developing adult education curriculum.

The final phase of the project involves working directly with adult education projects. The emphasis will be the use of an observations schedule to detail what happens in an adult education encounter. Broadly addressing the question – where does adult education take place and what form does it take, and how is literacy embedded into this activity. Focussing on material used, style of delivery, assessment practices, use of text and the perceptions of teachers and student. The aim is to produce a series of case studies along the lines of those published by NRDC. This is not an exploration of good practice. It is the exploration of actual practice. Consistent for example with the approach of Kwesi (etc) how are text books actually used in classrooms.  The project will through this phase of the study develop examples of changed practices.  Participants will work with local providers to achieve curriculum change consistent with the actual uses of literacy identified in phase 2. The process and outcome of these changes for teachers and participants will then be analysed. 

Each of these projects will be led by an early career faculty member from either University of Ghana or University of Hull, as part of a research programme registered at UG. This may include action research in the vase of Diploma or MA students. A detailed credit bearing proposal, will be produced by each participant including specific research questions. Supervision will be a joint enterprise conducted by both Ghanaian and Uk based team through face-to-face meetings and on-line.

The broader context with which the study is situated – against a backdrop of development, changing conceptualisations of literacy and teacher education will be undertaken by a UK based academic. Critical discourse analysis will be applied to relevant material to emerge from monitoring reports based on progress towards targets for eradication if illiteracy, teacher education curricular documents and other official documents relating to adult literacy.
Curriculum Design in Pedagogic Research Methods
Etc etc to be cont’d

Deadline for entry onto British Academy e-gap
(we will need to obtain the approval of your Head of Faculty)
Feb 7th                    
Notes forming basis of 1st draft published to blog and Ghanaian partners invited to comment
Feb 14th                                 
First draft of proposal sent to UoG,  PC for initial review
Fed 24th                 
Research Conversation: second draft of proposal complete incorporating UoG , and PC 
contributions and passed to Professors B&C at University of 
Hull for initial review
Feb 28th                
third draft sent to external readers for critical review and endorsement – Professor DB 
(if he agrees) or Professor AH at IoE or AK at Wolverhampton.
March 7th               
Proposal redrafted in the light of feedback
March 14th             
Final version sent to all involved for adjustment and comment

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