Literacy difficulties: the origins of the labels used, their perceived purpose and the meanings ascribed to them by children, their parents and teachers

Prof Doc Thesis

Hollis, Jill Susanne 2010. Literacy difficulties: the origins of the labels used, their perceived purpose and the meanings ascribed to them by children, their parents and teachers. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsHollis, Jill Susanne
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Labelling is a contentious issue within the fields of psychology and education
and is influenced by the predominant medical and social models of disability
labelling. Previous research has explored the views of children and parents in
relation to the labels used to describe literacy difficulties. However, such
research has neglected the views of children's mainstream teachers within the
UK educational context. Drawing on an ecological perspective, this exploratory
study investigated the views of four children aged 8 to 11 who had a dual
placement at a centre for children with specific learning differences, their
parents and their mainstream teachers. A qualitative methodology which utilised
semi-structured interviews as a means of data collection investigated
participants' views regarding the labels used to describe literacy difficulties, their
perceived purpose and the meanings ascribed to them.
Data was analysed using a hybrid approach of thematic analysis. Themes from
the three data sets were collapsed allowing comparisons to be made. Findings
indicated that there was variation in the labels used to describe the children's
literacy difficulties although their meaning remained relatively constant. Labels
were found to be transferable in nature, with adults not necessarily using those
written in reports, where most of the labels originated. Adults perceived a need
for collaboration in order to 'diagnose' dyslexia, with the role of the educational
psychologist (EP) being central to this. Contrasting views regarding the purpose
of a label, especially in relation to the support it could bring were found and
although participants recognised that labels could provide an explanation, the
visual signs of such difficulties were perceived as being important for the
children interviewed.
The findings are especially relevant to the role of the EP particularly since new
recommendations have been proposed to the government regarding the
identification of dyslexia (Rose, 2009). EPs are ideally placed to work with
children, their parents and teachers and can draw on their skills in consultation
and mediation with the aim of developing a shared understanding of the child's
difficulties whichever label is used.

Publication dates
PrintJun 2010
Publication process dates
Deposited09 Jun 2014
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