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Dec 14, 2007

Improving Literacy, Numeracy and Communication

Improving literacy, numeracy and communication skills in students with lear from Blackpool Zoo Park  
Fantastic way for people to learn additional skills to prepare for the world of work 

Improving literacy, numeracy and communication skills in students with learning difficulties, using action research at Blackpool Zoo.

Since September 2005, Blackpool Zoo has been in partnership with Myerscough College providing weekly group work experience for a number of animal care students with learning difficulties. As well as practical experience in the collection; an intervention was performed that aimed for students to improve their literacy, numeracy and communication skills whilst on placement.

The scheme was based on an action research methodology using the zoo and its wide selection of species as a tool for learning. At the end of each term the students produced A2 posters and gave a 5-10min presentation about a selected zoo animal.

The first presentation was in a group of 3 individuals, then in pairs and the last one at the end of the academic year was given individually.
Assessment was in the form of:
• Observations
• Informal interviews
• Peer feedback
• Specific questions pre and post task

The key questions that have been asked during this program were:
• Do group tasks improve social skills?
• Does peer feedback improve individual performance?
• Is confidence built through activities involving animals and verbal communication?
• Are literacy skills improved through practical tasked based on animals?

The students’ perspective of their achievable goals regarding literacy, numeracy and communication skills was altered. All students improved throughout the year, with some progressing to individual work placement and even part time employment.

The college was so amazed by the improvement of the group that it has renewed the contract with the zoo for a further two years, along with a substantial amount of funding. 

Developed by:  Blackpool Zoo Park

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