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Research Briefing

Plain English Summary

Research Summary

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Phase III Research Network:


Literacies for Learning in Further Education (2003 - 2006)

This project has now completed. Major outputs include:


Dr Roz Ivanic (University of Lancaster )
Professor David Barton (University of Lancaster )
Professor Richard Edwards (University of Stirling )
Dr Greg Mannion (University of Stirling)

Project Summary

Literacy practices are crucial resources for learning across the full range of the curriculum and throughout the life-course.
There is growing evidence that the learning outcomes of students in Further Education are undermined by difficulties imposed by the literacy demands of their courses. Yet recent theory and research in literacy studies suggests that students who appear to have low levels of literacy in educational settings are highly literate in other domains of life: in their domestic, community and leisure activities.
This research focuses on the use, refinement and diversification of literacy practices as students participate in Further Education (F.E.) courses. It:

  1. investigated ‘border literacies’ that enable people to negotiate successfully between 'informal' vernacular literacy practices and more 'formal' literacies within the F.E. context;
  2. designed, implemented and evaluateed intervention programmes aimed at mobilising and developing students’ literacy capabilities for success on their F.E. courses, for learning through life, and for adaptation to the emergent literacy demands of the wider society;
  3. developed research partnerships between H.E. and F.E. in order to enhance research capacity and evidence-based practice in F.E.

The research was based upon a partnership between two universities and four further education (FE) colleges: two in England and two in Scotland, making comparisons across policy contexts, curricula, different student populations, and a wide range of literacies in both informal and formal settings. 16 F.E. staff – four from each college - worked as part of the research team throughout the study. .


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