Literacy intervention and psychosocial development in New Zealand students with low levels of literacy acquisition

Literacy intervention and psychosocial development in New Zealand students with low levels of literacy acquisition

First Author: Amanda Denston -- University of Canterbury
Additional authors/chairs: 
John Everatt; Rachel Martin; Tufulasi Taleni
Keywords: Literacy development, Intervention, Self-concept, Self-Efficacy
Abstract / Summary: 

Many primary aged students in New Zealand are not experiencing desired outcomes for literacy and well-being. Such students experience lower rates of achievement and increased rates of stand-downs/suspensions, effects that can be notably worse for indigenous Māori and Pacific Island students. Clearly, failure to acquire reading can lead to poor educational achievement, but it is also related to behavioural problems and lower levels of psychosocial development. The current research, therefore, has been investigating ways to support literacy learning in children in Years 4 to 6 (Grade 3 to 5), while increasing self-concept and reducing negative behaviours in children who experienced literacy learning difficulties.
Primary school children (N>60), aged 9 to 11 years, with evidence of difficulties in reading/spelling completed an intervention that targeted competence in decoding strategies and vocabulary development. Opportunities to model and practice text reading through repeated readings were also provided. Measures of literacy, self-concept and behaviour were administered pre- and post-intervention. A delayed intervention group acted as a control group to assess intervention impact.
Results confirmed improvements in reading, spelling and language scores specific to the intervention. These were also related to positive changes in measure of self-concept and negative behaviour. Outcomes were similar for all ethnic groups, including those from Māori and Pacific backgrounds; though there were potential differences in the specific area of impact across such groups.
Such research provides insight into the effect of literacy interventions on different ethnic groups of students and its potential to foster psychosocial development in these students.