Exploring the Impact of the Glory and Dismay Football Literacies Programme on Hard-to-Reach Adult Learners

Player, John (2010). Exploring the Impact of the Glory and Dismay Football Literacies Programme on Hard-to-Reach Adult Learners. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000ed79

Abstract

This thesis aims to contribute to the field of New Literacy Studies by giving voice to the experience of learners involved in a situated pedagogy, namely the Glory and Dismay Football Literacy Programme (GDFLP). This programme evinces the view that reluctant adult learners will engage in literacy learning programmes if such programmes have a direct bearing on learners' interests, concerns and lives. The thesis describes the nature of the specific GDFLP programme and explores the impact of this programme on learners' lives and literacy practices. As the coordinator and a tutor on the GDFLP, this thesis also reflects some of the complexity I experienced in managing a combined teacher and academic researcher positioning.

My key research question is 'what are the learners' experiences of the GDFLP?', underpinned by a set of sub questions including one which is at the centre of much debate around literacy teaching, that is, 'what is the impact of the GDFLP on adult learners' functional and critical literacy acquisition?' To answer these research questions I adopt a qualitative case study approach. Primary data includes semi-structured interviews and participant observations recorded over a period of 12 weeks. Secondary data includes existing material generated by the GDFLP. The key findings presented in the thesis are in the form of six case studies at the centre of which are learners' narratives about their learning and literacy experiences and which are complemented by understandings drawn from my participant observations and engagement with academic literature. The representational aim is to 'give voice' to the learners' educational and literacy journey, particularly their engagement with the GDFLP. I draw on critical discourse analysis, literacy studies and some aspects of narrative analysis and sociolinguistics.

The case study approach provides a framework to explore how learners are subjected to a discursive formation that suffuses working-class Scottish football culture. This thesis explores how learners are made 'subjects', investigating how learners 'partially consent' to the interests of others with much more power. As an educator working for Community Learning and Development, City of Edinburgh Council with the Adult Learning Project (ALP) in Edinburgh, influenced by Paulo Freire, I examine how critical literacy pedagogy, enacted in the GDFLP, seeks to and succeeds in addressing such inequities. This thesis is motivated by a desire to do something about the structural inequalities to which the learners are subjected and to provide academic evidence for the social practice approach to adult literacy teaching currently advocated by the Scottish Government.

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