Adult Learning and Literacy Research Group ALCR: Adult Literacy and Communication Research Group



The Literacy & Employment research programme features a diverse array of projects and methodologies, each of which has the potential to reveal new attributes of the condition of adult literacy and employment in Wanganui and Districts. These include:

  1. A comprehensive telephone survey of 400 persons, providing an initial overview of how Wanganui citizens regard topics such as the importance and applications of adult literacy, skills necessary for employment, and employment related issues in the community.
  2. A series of 12 in-depth interviews with adult literacy training providers in and around Wanganui in order to determine services available to persons with literacy needs, as well as the needs of these services.
  3. A follow-up survey of training providers with the aim of exploring in more depth the issues and challenges that providers face in the Wanganui and District region, as well as finding out more about how they operate and the services that they offer.
  4. A series of approximately 100 one-to-one interviews with participants in adult literacy and numeracy training.
  5. A series of approximately 80 follow-up interviews with the same participants in adult literacy and numeracy training a year on from the initial interview.
  6. A series of approximately 30 interviews with new participants in adult literacy and numeracy training a year on from the first set of participant interviews.
  7. A comprehensive annotated bibliography and two literature reviews on the subject of adult literacy and employment. One of the literature reviews is broadly within the paradigm of Western social research, and the second is from the perspective of indigenous research.
  8. Approximately 40 interviews with persons not currently participating in adult literacy and numeracy training. Both the interviews with participants and those not currently participating in adult literacy training look at identifying the literacy and employment needs of the respondents, as well as the barriers they may or may not face in terms of obtaining literacy training and/or employment in the Wanganui community. The interviews also delve into educational history, motivational characteristics and community involvement of the respondents.
  9. Iwi-based research exploring issues including ancestral literacy and bi-literacy within the traditional rohe of River Iwi.
  10. Focus groups with Wanganui employers within large and small enterprise.
  11. One-to-one interviews with employers within small and medium-sized enterprise.
  12. An e-survey of employers in the Wanganui region exploring their views on skills for employment, barriers to literacy, and the processes within their organisation for hiring or working with those with literacy issues.
  13. Correlational research into the motivational factors associated with enhancement for participants of their learning and persistence in literacy training programmes, with a further focus on their goal achievement (particularly employment and/or further training) once outside of their training programme.
  14. Focus groups with Wanganui residents on the subject of literacy and employment.
  15. Focus groups with Wanganui stakeholders and community agencies on literacy and employment.
  16. A focus group with Wanganui and District literacy practitioners on their perceived needs as practitioners.
  17. Action research exploring the use of self-reflection methodologies within a literacy training programme. Investigation is underway to determine if these methodologies and others enhance perceived learning of literacy skills, and general learning within the programme. The first phase of data collection has occurred, and planning for the second iteration is now under way.
  18. A family literacy action research project which aims to introduce and encourage parents to share books and literacy activities with their children in a school setting from Year One. The first phase of this research will begin with a few parents and children, with the aim being that all Year Zero and Year One children will one day take part as part of the school system.
  19. A family literacy project is proposed to take place within a prison setting to encourage incarcerated parents to share books and literacy activities with their children. This is not only to enhance the experience of literacy for both parent and child, but also to enhance the bond parent and child share that may be weakened by the distance of incarceration.
  20. A proposed formative evaluation of the development of a workplace literacy programme.
  21. A case study employing an in-depth investigation into self-care unit inmates and their experiences with literacy is proposed.
  22. A case study is currently under way into the experiences and impacts on employment and life in general for those who worked with Enhanced Task Force Green in Wanganui and Districts. This case study makes use of in-depth interview and focus group methods and includes the participants in ETFG, as well as those who oversaw its development and implementation.

Spin-off research projects deriving from the Wanganui L&E programme are also currently completed, underway or in planning. Presently completed or underway are:

  1. A data analysis report commissioned by the Ministry of Education where members of the Wanganui L&E team analysed the NZ data from the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) to determine which demographic factors tend to predict low literacy levels.
  2. An interpretation of the IALS data analysis report, commissioned by the Ministry of Education, to support the Ministry’s on-going communication with adult literacy providers and other stakeholder groups.
  3. Interviews with employers in Rotorua and districts who have funded in-house literacy programmes, and with personnel who have successfully completed such programmes.
  4. Analysis of data from a nation-wide survey of small to medium size enterprises on the subject of the importance of literacy and numeracy in enterprise growth and development.
  5. A study of family biliteracy learning: a project to maintain minority community languages and cultures in New Zealand, led by Dr Franco Vaccarino, Department of Communication and Journalism, and Dr Ute Walker, School of Language Studies, Massey University. This project introduces a family biliteracy learning project as an alternative approach to promote and encourage the intergenerational process of sharing, supporting and maintaining the community language and culture.

For further information about any of these projects, you are welcome to contact the Research Manager, Niki Murray, or the Research Leader, Prof Frank Sligo.