Exploring adolescent literacy experiences through vocabulary learning and self-efficacy in reading and writing. (2020)
Type of ContentElectronic Thesis or Dissertation
Degree NameMaster of Education
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsBriggs, Susanshow all
Vocabulary knowledge is an essential literacy skill for secondary school students, as it allows them to comprehend texts and express complex ideas across their subjects. High levels of self-efficacy in reading and writing are also fundamental for secondary school students’ literacy learning, as self-efficacy influences their motivation and achievement in specific tasks in the classroom. This thesis sought to explore these two aspects of literacy– vocabulary learning, and self-efficacy in reading and writing - from the perspectives of secondary school students. The purpose of this study was to gain greater insight into what is effective teaching and learning for students’ vocabulary acquisition, and for improving students’ self-efficacy in reading and writing, across all curriculum areas. This study was a form of practitioner research, as I am a secondary school teacher.
This small-scale research was qualitative in nature, and the main source of data was interviews with secondary school students. Six Year 10 secondary school students were interviewed about their experiences of vocabulary learning, reading and writing in their classrooms. Additionally, the participants sat a test to measure their vocabulary size, completed a short self-efficacy questionnaire, and their results from two previous reading tests were also collected. The data analysis generated themes that describe students’ experiences in relation to vocabulary learning, reading and writing in the classroom. The process of analysing the data also drew attention to the personal and unique nature of the experiences in the classroom for each individual participant.
This study found that whilst a range of evidence-based activities and strategies are being used for vocabulary learning in their classrooms, students would benefit from further support with their vocabulary acquisition. The findings also show that students who have low reading or writing self-efficacy need more opportunities and support with specific reading or writing activities. Additionally, the data analysis identified inequities in structured school support for students’ literacy learning. The findings of this study present implications for school leadership, as well as for teachers. They suggest that teachers may benefit from professional development around various aspects of teaching and learning in the classroom, and highlight that effective processes need to be in place to provide support for students with literacy learning needs, to ensure equitable outcomes for students.