The Centre for Literacy 1.Introduction 2.Main Aims 3.Research and Development Projects 4.Publications
Introduction Literacy is fundamental to all forms of personal learning and intellectual growth. In todays global society, a literate population is essential for a nations social and economic development.
The Centre for Literacy is a research and development Centre that focuses on the area of literacy and other basic skills. Its mission is to respond productively to the increased need for literacy and other basic skills issues to be addressed in both professional development and research.
The Centre is involved in: policy advice, programme management, consultancies and training for different educational and professional bodies, ministries, national agencies and institutions.
The Centres Users These include: The Ministry of Education, Youth and Employment The Ministry of Social Policy and the Family The Employment and Training Corporation (ETC) Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) The Foundation for Educational Services (FES) Primary and Secondary Schools in Malta and Gozo A number of non-governmental organisations
Aims of the Centre The Centre aims to: undertake practical and theoretical research which is of interest to policy makers, practitioners and academics in local, national, regional, and international contexts maintain strong partnerships with schools and other educational agencies provide consultancy services to the educational commCentrey give high priority to the dissemination of research outcomes
First National Literacy Survey In 1999 the Centre for Literacy was asked by the Minister of Education to conduct the very first Literacy assessment on the Island at a National Level. The First National Literacy Survey assessed the literacy level of all Year 2 pupils attending state, private church and private independent schools in Malta and Gozo. For this purpose, two suitable tests were created, one in English and another in Maltese. Using the multilevel modelling technique the Centre assessed the performance of all pupils in both languages, together with the National Foundation for Educational Research for England and Wales (NFER) and the Education Division of Malta. This is reported in Mifsud et al. (2000).
Second National Literacy Survey As a follow-up study to the 1999 National Literacy Survey a similar study was conducted in 2002, which assessed the literacy skills of the same cohort of pupils, who were in Year 5 in March 2002. Once again standardised tests were created for both Maltese and English at Year 5 level. Using the multilevel modelling technique the pupils performance was assessed at this level and the results were fed back to schools in the form of detailed reports, which were explained to the heads of school during a day seminar organised by the Centre. The results of the 2002 National Literacy Survey are reported in Mifsud et al. (2004).
Value Added Study In addition to the two National Literacy Surveys, the Centre for Literacy carried out a value added study. The data of each individual pupil from 2002 was matched with the data of this same pupil from the 1999 survey. An analysis of this comparison is of utmost importance to be able to assess every pupils progress over the three years. Through this study, the Centre was able to target pupils and schools with difficulties and those that were doing exceptionally well. Furthermore, the Centre provided schools with ample feedback through seminars and individual school reports. This value added study is an important analytical tool to help schools assess and improve their performance. The results of the value added study are reported in Mifsud et al. (2004).
Literacy Provision Project Following the National Literacy Surveys, a detailed questionnaire was sent to all heads of primary schools in Malta and Gozo, asking how their particular school was planning to improve the quality of the education in the school, with particular reference to literacy. The schools were asked about the actual books they were using at the time when the study was carried out, school facilities, such as libraries, facilitators, small reading groups, workshops for teachers to share ideas on making reading seem more pleasant to the pupils, and the schools future plans on this issue. A report was published in the form of a monograph (Mifsud et al., 2003) and sent to all primary schools in Malta and Gozo.
Effective Literacy Practices in Primary Schools (1) The two National Literacy Surveys and the value added study were important in gauging the literacy attainment of all Maltese pupils at Year 2 and Year 5 levels. Maltese tests were adapted from standardised British tests (Vincent et al. 1996) on both occasions and may be used for future assessment. In addition, a national mean at both Year 2 and Year 5 levels was established from this analysis. The data collected in 1999 and 2002 on the same cohort of pupils was then matched for a value added study. The purpose of this was to investigate the schools role in adding value to the pupils literacy attainment from Year 2 to Year 5.
Effective Literacy Practices in Primary Schools (2) Once this quantitative analysis was finalised, it was thought important to carry out a qualitative study to investigate the significance of the schools and teachers role on the pupils performance. Through these case studies we hope to delve deeper into the factors that make some schools more successful than others as reflected in their pupils performance in both the Maltese and English Literacy Tests. Through this qualitative study we hope to identify those features of schools practices and characteristics which appear to make a significant difference in terms of student performance gains. In this sense qualitative work is therefore necessary to get beyond the quantitative profiles.
National Mathematics Survey As a result of the success of the two National Literacy Studies and the value added study in literacy, it was decided to conduct a national baseline assessment of all Year 1 pupils mathematical skills. This study was conducted by the Education Division in conjunction with the Centre for Literacy of the University of Malta. Following a pilot study, the main study was carried out in April 2004. Once again the multilevel model was used for the analysis. The results are reported in Mifsud et al. 2005.
Modern Foreign Languages Project The Centre for Literacy recognises the importance of developing proficiency in modern languages, like French, Italian, German, Spanish, other than Maltese and English. In a world which is moving towards unification, the Centre for Literacy is working towards improving and developing the methods of foreign language learning in schools, through the use of new technologies and other visual- aided material. It is involved in a number of European Union and Euro-Mediterranean funded projects aimed to improve the teaching and learning of modern foreign languages through emerging pedagogies and innovative media. Projects include the creation of databases hosting language resources, bringing together foreign language specialists from across Europe. These projects, most of which involve e-learning, are: Linguanet; eEuroInclusion; ODISEAME; TNP 3; ENLU; FEEL; CentreE EU 6 th framework project (FP6); Primalang.
School Improvement and Bookflood Programme Following the two National Literacy Surveys and the value added study, the Centre together with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Employment (MEYE) was able to target specific state schools that were under performing. A number of tutors were assigned by the Ministry of Education to the Literacy Programme, co-ordinated by the Centre for Literacy. The schools that were targeted were provided with a substantial amount of attractive, modern, reading material both for teachers and for pupils. The Centre has to ensure that this material is utilised to its full potential, and teachers are guided on how to use these books in class. In addition some schools were assisted in the setting up of school and class libraries. In this way the Centre tries to ensure that illiteracy is combated at both primary and secondary levels.
Adult Literacy The Literacy for Employment Programme was set up by the Centre for Literacy in collaboration with the Paulo Freire Institute in Zejtun and the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC) for unemployed adults wishing to acquire basic literacy skills in both Maltese and English in order to be better equipped when seeking employment. The Centre for Literacy was responsible for helping the main tutors to assess and target the learning needs and difficulties of the individual participants. The Centre for Literacy was involved in the setting up of and acts as an Advisory Body to the Basic Skills Centre of The Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST), which tutors hundreds of young people who are following vocational courses. The Centre for Literacy is also involved in the European Structural Fund Project. The role of the Centre is the: Training and supervision of Adult Literacy Tutors Production of a series of Adult Literacy Manuals
Centres Research used for National Action Plans Data and research produced by the Centre for Literacy has been used as a primary source for the drawing up of national reports like: the National Action Plan for Poverty and Social Exclusion produced by the Ministry for Family and Social Solidarity and the National Action Plan for Employment produced by the Ministry for Education, Youth and Employment and the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC).
Publications GRECH, R. (2005) "Don't Teach your Child Manglish - Raising Children to be Bilingual" in Child Magazine, The Times, Malta. MIFSUD, C.L., RICHARD, S., HUTCHISON, D. and GRECH, R. (2005) Mathematics in Malta: The National Mathematics Survey of Year 1 Pupils. Department of Planning and Development, Education Division, Malta. MIFSUD, C.L., GRECH, R., HUTCHISON, D. and MORRISON, J. (2005) The Malta Primary Literacy Value-Added Project – A Template for Value Added in Small Island States, Research Papers in Education. Routledge, UK. MIFSUD, C.L., GRECH, R., HUTCHISON, D. and MORRISON, J. (2005) The Malta National Literacy Survey of Year 5 pupils (aged 9-10), Research in Education. Manchester University Press, UK. MIFSUD, C.L. and ZAMMIT, M. (2005) A Framework for Autonomous Language Learning via the Internet, Best Practices in e-learning. Kluwer Academic Publishers, New York. ZAMMIT, M. and SARLO, D. (eds.) (2005) Linking Literacies – Sustaining Literacy Skills through Information and Communication Technologies. Education Division, Malta, Furtu Selvatico Boys Secondary School, Naxxar and the Centre for Literacy, University of Malta. MIFSUD, C.L., GRECH, R., HUTCHISON, D., MORRISON, J., RUDD, P., and HANSON, J. (2004) Literacy for School Improvement – Value Added for Malta. Agenda Publishers, Malta. MIFSUD, C.L., RICHARD, S. and HUTCHISON, D.. (2004) The Mathematics Attainment of Year 1 Pupils in Malta: Interim Report and Consultation Document on the Pilot Study. Department of Planning and Development, Education Division, Malta.
Publications MIFSUD, C.L., GRECH, R., and DIMECH LLANAJ, E. (2003) Provision for Literacy in Maltese Primary Schools. Centre for Literacy Monograph Series No. 3, University of Malta, Malta. Centre for Literacy (2001) Niktbu u Naqraw – Ktejjeb ta Tahrig. Centre for Literacy, University of Malta, Malta. MIFSUD, C. and MALLIA, G. (eds.) (2000). Ways and Measures: Teaching and Assessing Young Learners of English as a Foreign Language. Msida, Malta: World Academic. MIFSUD, C., MILTON, J., BROOKS, G. and HUTCHISON, D. (2000). Literacy in Malta: The 1999 National Survey of the Attainment of Year 2 Pupils. Slough: National Foundation for Educational Research for the University of Malta. MIFSUD, C., MILTON, J., HUTCHISON, D. and BROOKS, G. (2000). Do Schools Make a Difference? – A Report on using the Malta National Literacy Survey as a Basis for a School Effectiveness or Value Added Study. Centre for Literacy Monograph Series No. 2: University of Malta, Malta. MIFSUD, C., MILTON, J., and BROOKS, G. (1998). The Reading Attainment of Year 2 Pupils in Malta: Interim Report and Consultation Document on the Pilot Study. Centre for Literacy Monograph Series No. 1: University of Malta, Malta. MIFSUD, C., MILTON, J., and FABRI, F. (1998). Reading Progress Tests Literacy Baseline – Maltese Version. Centre for Literacy: University of Malta, Malta. MIFSUD, C., MILTON, J., and FABRI, F. (1998). Instructions Booklet for Literacy Baseline – Maltese Version. Centre for Literacy: University of Malta, Malta.