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How can oral language impact on literacy acquisition? : The study of an oral language intervention program with preparatory students in Tasmania
thesisposted on 2023-05-27, 20:34 authored by Rowlands, SM
The purpose of this study was to collect and evaluate reading and writing data related to an oral language intervention program being trialled in two rural schools in north western Tasmania. Two other schools, within ten kilometres, were used as control examples, to determine the effect of the variables and attributes of the intervention program. Prior to this study, school leaders monitoring kindergarten and preparatory student data noted a trend. Early years' students showed declining literacy scores on state-wide assessments. The Tasmanian Educational Performance Services (EPS) state-wide Reading Recovery data also indicated that fewer preparatory students were reading and writing, at an age-appropriate level, as they began Grade one. A multi-method research approach was conducted with twelve preparatory students from each of two intervention and two non-intervention schools, using standard classroom assessment tools to monitor student outcomes. Questionnaires were used with teachers and caregivers, consisting of demographic, Likert scale and open-ended questions. Semi-structured interviews were used to build on quantitative student data and establish a thorough understanding of other issues impacting on student outcomes. The study period was approximately six months, in the second half of the preparatory year. The aim was to determine if the chosen intervention program, Albany District Oral Language Focus (ADOLF) led to measureable improved student outcomes in oral language, reading and writing. This research indicated that all study students, whether classified as 'average' or 'at risk' made gains in some or all of the oral language, reading or writing assessment tools. There was no notable gain to student outcomes at intervention schools for those students of most concern. Teachers indicated that the focused intervention program on questioning developed a culture of questioning and inquiry throughout the preparatory classroom program. Teacher awareness and skill in using questioning was noted as developing and extending student vocabulary as well as supporting the increased time for focused interactions during classroom activities. This thesis attempts to understand oral language learning opportunities, arising from the ADOLF intervention, with the preparatory students participating in this study and the teaching practices that supported them as early readers and writers. Other factors, beyond the school, were considered for their impact on early literacy learning, in relation to improving student outcomes. Nevertheless, this research resulted in further questions being raised for future data collection, review of appropriateness assessment tools and research to be undertaken.
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