British Journal of Educational Psychology

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Volume 68 Issue 3 (September 1998), Pages 309-474

Paired reading: effects of a parent involvement programme in a disadvantaged community in South Africa (pages 347-356)

Background. The study was conducted in an educationally disadvantaged South African community where the effectiveness of a paired reading parent involvement programme, which stressed interaction around reading as a means of mediating meaning, was evaluated.

Aims. The research aimed to evaluate whether reading accuracy, comprehension and attitude were promoted through involving parents and other family members as mediators in a process of paired reading. Further, it aimed to elucidate interactive ecosystemic effects across family, school and community levels.

Samples. Two complete grade four classes (29 and 32 children respectively) served as comparison groups (average age: 9 years 7 months).

Methods. To test the significance of the improvement in reading accuracy and comprehension (Neale Analysis of Reading Ability: Neale, 1966) and attitude (Elementary Reading Attitude Survey: McKenna & Kear, 1990) for the experimental group relative to the control, one‐tailed t‐tests for independent samples on the respective pre‐test/post‐test difference scores were applied.

Results. Statistically significant improvements in reading accuracy and comprehension, as well as reading attitude and involvement, were demonstrated. A broad ecosystemic analysis suggested that positive relationships between children and significant others in the family were nurtured and other children in the family were benefiting. Interactions between family and school, and school and the local community library, were also enhanced.

Conclusions. The study emphasises the importance of developing mediation insights and skills in parent involvement programmes, and the place of ecosystemic analysis in understanding the social dynamics involved in such programmes.

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