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Log on and blog: An exploratory study assessing the impact of holiday blogging on student literacy achievement

Rachel Williamson (Department of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand)
Rebecca Jesson (Department of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand)

English Teaching: Practice & Critique

ISSN: 1175-8708

Article publication date: 4 September 2017

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the viability of blogging over the summer holidays as an intervention to ameliorate the Summer Learning Effect (SLE) in writing. The SLE is the impact on achievement of taking a break from school over summer, and has been documented to affect differentially those students who come from low socioeconomic status (SES) communities compared with their more affluent peers. However, previous studies within similar communities suggest that the effect is not inevitable, and is amenable to intervention.

Design/methodology/approach

The present study is set in a group of low SES schools where students already have individual learning blogs. The Summer Learning Journey was designed by the research team in consultation with students and teachers from the schools and trialled in January 2015. The design of the programme drew on previous research that suggested that students would be motivated by interest, rather than achievement, and that literacy activity over summer should be leisure-based.

Findings

Initial evidence suggests that students who participated made measurable improvements compared with their own progress over the previous summer and also compared with a matched control group of students, and that the observed difference continued over the 2016 school year.

Research limitations/implications

The study provides initial evidence of quite substantial differences in achievement for those students who were active bloggers.

Originality/value

The study provides an alternative direction from current summer learning programmes and indicates the potential for designing digital opportunities for learning at times when the school is not in session.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge and thank two organisations for providing the current project with funding: first, the MSA Charitable Trust who provided monies to cover the salary of the lead researcher over the duration of the project and, second, the University of Auckland for providing the operational funding to cover expenses related to the development and implementation of the programme. The authors are indebted to their partners in this research: the school students, families, teachers and principals, and the community Education Trust. The authors also wish to acknowledge the technical advice and expertise provided by the IT team at the University of Auckland and by Mrs Anna Clyne.

Citation

Williamson, R. and Jesson, R. (2017), "Log on and blog: An exploratory study assessing the impact of holiday blogging on student literacy achievement", English Teaching: Practice & Critique, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 222-237. https://doi.org/10.1108/ETPC-03-2017-0036

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited