Wellbeing effects from family literacy education: An ecological study
This paper describes a study that used community psychology theories to investigate family-focused literacy education programmes, evaluations of which usually focus solely on skills gains and their economic advantage. Specifically, the study drew on an ecological systems-based, culturally adaptive framework for personal, relational and collective wellbeing bringing much-needed new thinking to how family-focused adult literacy education might be theorised and practiced. The study traced the experiences of 19 adult participants in four family-focused literacy programmes in different communities in New Zealand over 18 months. Participant accounts from 79 key informant interviews, 12 classroom observations and programme documentation were scrutinized using latent theoretical thematic analysis which drew on broad perspectives of literacy, ecological systems theory, network theory and integrative theories of wellbeing. The study found that the programmes shared common principles and practices that prioritised holistic wellbeing whilst valuing literacy enhancement. It showed that participants experienced positive literacy, social and wellbeing-related outcomes. Programme effects were found to be interconnected and to flow on to other parts of participants’ lives and to their families and communities. We demonstrate community psychology’s critical contribution to a fuller understanding of family-focused literacy education.
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