The Characteristics of Adult Readers in Entry Level Tertiary Settings in New Zealand
McHardy, J. M. (2009). The Characteristics of Adult Readers in Entry Level Tertiary Settings in New Zealand (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/3588
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/3588
International literacy and life skills surveys in 1996 and 2006 assessed the broad group of skills encompassing reading, numeracy, and problem solving skills across OECD countries. Findings show that around half of the adult population in New Zealand have literacy levels below the minimum level of competence required to meet everyday life (Ministry of Education, 1998; 2001; 2005; 2007b). This study examines the specific literacy skill of reading and looks at the reading related characteristics of 52 New Zealand adults in entry level tertiary settings. The 40 males and 12 females attended three Private Training Establishments and engaged in employment skills courses, security work training or trade skills courses. Participants ranged in age from 16 years to over 50, and 22 identified as European, 20 as Māori, 2 as Pasifika with the remaining 8 identifying with more than one of these ethnicities. The simple view of reading (Gough Tunmer, 1986) which suggests that decoding and linguistic comprehension make separate contributions to reading comprehension is used to examine the relationships between the sub-components of reading in this population. One-to-one interviews are used to test participants on decoding skill, word reading skills, sentence comprehension skills and receptive vocabulary knowledge. In addition, information on self-belief in reading ability, value placed on reading and reading habits is collected from each participant. The 3 sub-groups of less-skilled readers described by the simple view are found to be present in this population and correlations between the key measures indicate strong positive correlations between decoding and listening comprehension in the over-all general population of readers. In the general population of less-skilled readers there are significant positive correlations between decoding and sentence comprehension and between receptive vocabulary skill and sentence comprehension. Further analyses indicate negative correlations exist between decoding and listening comprehension among the participants in each of the 3 less-skilled readers groups. The results support the pattern expected under the simple view of reading and the previously reported pattern of spiky skill profiles of adult learners. Over-all there is no apparent relationship between actual skill of the readers in this study and their perception of that skill or between the value placed on reading and actual skill. Generally the skilled readers in this study read a broader range of materials and read more regularly than less-skilled readers in this study. These results, by providing evidence of reading related characteristics of adults in tertiary training in New Zealand, will help inform adult literacy programme content and delivery methods and increase our understanding of the specific reading instruction needed for less-skilled adult readers.
The University of Waikato
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