Literacies for Learning in Further Education
~ A Further and Higher Education Research Project ~
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Research Processes

The Literacies for Learning in Further Education project took place over 3 years (for more information on this, see the project timetable).

The research was a three-phase, multi-method study, employing mainly qualitative methods of data collection and analysis in different ways for each of the three phases.

Data was collected about the literacy practices involved in studying on a range of courses across the FE curriculum, the literacy practices in students' everyday lives, and, in Phase Three, the effects of curriculum developments based on the findings of the research conducted in Phase Two.

Qualitative methods of data collection were informed by principles of linguistic ethnography and included semi-structured interviews, observation, photo-elicitation, photographing literacy practices, and the collection of texts and other artefacts. Data was coded using both theoretically driven analytical frameworks and open coding. Some quantitative data was collected through a questionnaire in order to triangulate and increase the generalisability of the qualitative data findings. Quantitative data was also collected regarding student outcomes, in order to assess the impact of curriculum development trials in Phase Three of the project. The quantitative data was analysed statistically.

The main activities were associated with two strands of the project: methodological and user engagement.


Research Phases

Activities related to data collection and analysis were carried out in three distinct phases:

Phase One: Induction

January 2004 to December 2004

Phase One surveyed the literacy landscapes of FE colleges - collecting and analysing data relating to the literacy demands of being a student in a Further Education college.


Phase Two: Literacies

July 2004 to December 2005

Phase Two provided opportunities to zoom in on the literacy demands of four distinct curriculum areas in each of the four colleges. A detailed analysis of the literacy practices of two units within each of these curriculum areas was undertaken leading to detailed understanding of the literacy practices of each of these units. Researchers also worked closely with small groups of students in each of these curriculum areas to understand the plethora of reading and writing that they engaged with as part of their everyday lives.


Phase Three: Curriculum Development

July 2005 to September 2006

In Phase Three, college-based researchers made small changes to their teaching practices based upon the findings from phase two. These innovative changes were closely evaluated by the tutors, university-based researchers and students themselves.

Some activities cross all the phases, such as collecting student outcomes data in focal curriculum areas, user engagement in all aspects of the research and conceptual development and writing for a rage of readers.

The attached timetable charts the actitivities of the research activities in detail, from the beginning until the end of 2006.

In the box on the right are links to further information about our methods of data collection and data analysis in each phase. The project's significant commitment to working collaboratively between further and higher education, and its user engagement strategy are also discussed in more detail through links on the right. User engagement activites were integrated throughout the project addressing a range of audiences including policy, practice and academic audiences at local, regional and national levels. Some of these presentations are available as Conference Papers and other Presentations


About the research


Introduction to the project


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