The implementation of a literacy intervention 'Station Teaching' in infant classes in Irish primary schools

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Daly, Dympna
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University College Cork
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Background: I conducted my research in the context of The National Literacy Strategy (DES, 2011), which maintains that every young person should be literate and it outlines targets for improving literacy in schools from 2011 to 2020. There has been much debate on the teaching of literacy and in particular the teaching of reading. Clark (2014) outlines how learning to read should be a developmental language process and that the approaches in the early years of schooling will colour the children’s motivation and their perception of reading as a purposeful activity. The acquisition of literacy begins in the home but this study focuses on the implementation of a literacy intervention Station Teaching in the infant classes in primary school. Station Teaching occurs when a class is divided into four or five small groups of pupils and they receive intensive tuition at four or five different Stations with the help of Support teachers: New Reading, Familiar Reading, Phonics, Writing and Oral Language. Research Questions: These research questions frame my study: How is Station Teaching implemented? What is the experience of the intervention Station Teaching from the participants’ point of view: teachers, pupils, parents? What notion of literacy is Station Teaching facilitating? Methods: I chose a pragmatic parallel mixed methods design as suggested by Mertens (2010). I collected and analysed both the quantitative and qualitative data to answer the study’s research questions. In the study the quantitative data were collected from a questionnaire issued to 21 schools in Ireland. I used Excel as a data management package and thematic analysis to analyse and present the data in themes. I collected qualitative data from a case study in a school. This data included observations of two classes over a period of a year; interviews with teachers, pupils and parents; children’s drawings, photographs, teachers’ diaries and video evidence. I analysed and presented the evidence from the qualitative data in themes. Main Findings: There are many skills and strategies that are essential to effective literacy teaching in the early years including phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension and writing. These skills can be taught during Station Teaching. Early intervention in the early years is essential to pupils’ acquisition of literacy. The expertise of the teacher is key to improving the literacy achievement of pupils Teachers and pupils enjoy participating in ST. Pupils are motivated to read and engage in meaningful activities during ST. Staff collaboration is vital for ST to succeed ST facilitates small group work and teachers can differentiate accordingly while including all pupils in the groups. Pupils’ learning is extended in ST but extension activities need to be addressed in the Writing Station. More training should be provided for teachers on the implementation of ST and more funding for resources should be available to schools Significant contribution of the work: The main significance of the study includes: insights into the classroom implementation of Station Teaching in infant classes and extensive research into characteristics of an effective teacher of literacy.
Infant classes , Literacy intervention , Station teaching
Daly, D. 2015. The implementation of a literacy intervention 'Station Teaching' in infant classes in Irish primary schools. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.