Developing models for understanding first-generation students and ESL

Throughout the project, a variety of models will be developed to better understand and meet first-generation students and early school leavers, through Equality Literacy and an indirect approach.
Eliciting biographical accounts from young people who may have experienced intersecting forms of marginalisation requires a conversational approach in an informal environment in which the informant is comfortable. The ‘indirect approach’ helps to close the gap between researcher and informant by encouraging an informal, unstructured exchange (Moshuus & Eide, 2016). The exchange originates out of the informant’s context and it is through this dialogic approach that informants disclose information that is significant and revealing. Both students and teaching staff will be included as informants. Following training, student co-researchers will also be included to conduct this study. Multi-cited ethnographic field observations of relevant educational settings will also be conducted. The results will also be analysed by student co-researchers, equipping them with advanced research skills and helping to further reduce the distance between researcher and researched.

When we translate literacy into a social justice context it means the ability to read and write at a level that secures both equality and equity. Equality refers to the relative levels of access that people have, for example, to resources, information and opportunities. In a socially-just world, people would have equal opportunities to access these things (Chapman and West-Burnham, 2010). Unfortunately, this is not the case and the world is highly unequal within and between nations (Wilkinson and Pickett, 2010). Equity refers to the deliberate practices that are required to provide equal access to resources, information and opportunities to people who are would not otherwise have access to them (Chapman and West-Burnham, 2010). ‘Equalities Literacy’ therefore refers to the ability to ‘read’ or have an awareness of equality, equity and associated social justice issues, to choose how to intervene, and to 'write' or act to create equality, equity and social justice through our daily actions. Inherent in these actions is the need to challenge meritocratic ideologies that perpetuate ´blame´ and competition (Wiederkehr et al., 2015) as these are both barriers to equality and equity.