In 1983 a programme was initiated by the School of Education, Canberra College of Advanced Education (CCAE) and the Australian Schools Commission to enable parents to assist their own children in literacy. The children had previously been identified as experiencing difficulties in acquiring the skills of literacy. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of the parents’ intervention on the children’s achievements in literacy, and to assess the quality of the programme by examining particular subskills taught in the course. The methods of assessment were also evaluated for their appropriateness for the circumstances. The thirty nine children in the study were the sample of fifty two children for whom there was complete information. Parents of these children began the programme in July 1985 or in March 1986. They attended a course of ten sessions over thirteen weeks in a semester. The following semester they were allocated to a teacher who was a post graduate or fourth year degree student in education, and given individual assistance from six to ten sessions, and longer if necessary. Aspects of oral reading, comprehension, writing and spelling were tested at the beginning of the programme and again in November 1986, and the results compared. Observational records were also kept and changes evaluated. In addition, oral reading was measured at the end of the parents’ course, and before individual assistance commenced. Case studies were built up for every child, and the findings grouped to observe the effect of the intervention on the population. The results showed that the programme achieved its aim of giving parents the skills to assist their own children in the acquisition of literacy. The content of the course and the subskills taught were also justified by the outcomes. Furthermore, the method of evaluation revealed specific and succinct information on which to base the intervention and to monitor progress. The research took place over 18 months, during which time teaching and progress were continual. A longitudinal study over several years would confirm the results of the research. I am indebted to friends and colleagues on both sides of the Tasman for their various contributions to the writing of this thesis. I am grateful for their support which has ranged from academic advice to hospitality, all of which made it possible to complete the task. For his guidance, wisdom, and encouragement I give particular thanks to my supervisor, Max Kemp. Through his invaluable criticism he has assisted me in shaping the thesis discussion, and in solving the problems inherent in writing a work of this nature. For help in interpreting the data I am grateful to staff members of the School of Education, Canberra College of Advanced Education, and especially to Professor Warwick Elley of the University of Canterbury. He has willingly given of his time, and I thank him for bis helpful teaching and suggestions. Since his arrival at the Schools and Community Centre John McIntyre has given constant support to the evaluating and assessment procedures. His practical insights, and assistance with the large task of collecting the data did much to lighten the work load. Diane Harris painstakingly entered the data on the computer, and willingly checked the details and queried the figures in the interest of authenticity. I am especially indebted to them both. Without help from home during the latter phase the thesis writing would surely have ground to a halt. Thanks are due to my husband, Christopher, for his proof readings and pertinent questions, for manipulating family time, and for his unwavering belief in the project.
|Date of Award||1987|