Friday, 13 April 2012

Unforeseen outcomes: Does poorly-resourced literacy tutoring reinforce apprentices’ low literacy?e

an article by Frank Sligo (Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand) published in Education + Training Volume 54 Issue 2/3 (2012)


The purpose of this paper is to explore the challenges faced by tutors who were providing remedial literacy support to New Zealand apprentices.
As part of a wider, triangulated study of employers, tutors, apprentices, and industry training coordinators, the author undertook a qualitative analysis of ten in-depth interviews with apprentices’ literacy tutors.
It was found that three issues strongly affected what tutors could achieve for their students. First, tutors experienced substantial role ambiguity; second, apprentices were working in oral and experiential modes more than in print-literate modes; and third, tutors found they had to employ an instrumental approach to their teaching in response to the situation they encountered. For example, this often meant serving as a scribe for their student rather than being able to focus on building the apprentice’s print literacy.
Research limitations/implications
It is possible that the difficult situation faced by these literacy tutors may be replicated in similar situations where funding is insufficient to build competence in literacy.
Practical implications
The constraints on what the tutors could actually achieve within tight funding limits meant that most students, while on track to successfully complete their apprenticeship, still remained of low print literacy.
The study reveals how tutors’ instrumental approach ran counter to their traditional ethical stance associated with building empowered, competent citizens who could participate fully in their civic, social and economic settings. It also shows how this literacy support enhanced the apprentices’ confidence, yet they probably became further reinforced in their little-changed, oral work culture.

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