Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Kim Nisbett

Abstract

At 2 primary schools in Western Jamaica, students at the Grade 1 level lacked basic literacy skills of comprehension, letter recognition, letter sounds, and oral communication. The purpose of this qualitative evaluation study was to investigate teachers' perceptions of the Jolly Phonics program implemented to improve students' literacy in Grades 1-3. Guided by Engestrom's activity theory, the effectiveness of the Jolly Phonics approach was examined based on the sociocultural learning theories of Vygotsky, Dewey, and Piaget. The research questions focused on teachers' perceptions of the program's impact on students' literacy improvement and of the strategies used in the Jolly Phonics program. Data collection involved individual interviews with 8 teachers from 2 selected primary schools with a representation of at least 2 teachers from each grade level. Using open coding and thematic analysis, emerging minor and major themes were identified. Themes included (a) positive impact on curriculum and instructional delivery; (b) focus on all students who lacked basic literacy skills; (c) development of phonetic awareness, writing, comprehension, and listening skills; (d) workshops that are stimulating and informative; (e) support from teachers and administrators; and (g) greater focus placed at the lower grades. Overall, the findings indicated that the Jolly Phonics program had a positive impact on struggling readers in Grades 1-3. Implications for positive social change include providing the local district with research-based findings on teachers' perceptions of the impact of and strategies used in the Jolly Phonics Program. The findings can be used to support programming decisions and professional development to improve literacy skills of early and struggling readers.