An Intervention in literacy in three Pacific nations: Implications of a context specific approach to co-design



educational improvement, schools, literacy


In this paper, we consider the implications of a commitment to acknowledging the role of context within a research practice partnership. We outline the approach to doing so within a design-based research intervention with 42 schools across three Pacific Island countries to improve literacy learning and language development. In doing so, the paper identifies context as a central concern for student and teacher learning, for schools as organisations and for intervention implementation. We draw on theories of context from each of these research bases to consider how aid interventions can best contribute to enhancing student learning outcomes across varied student populations in a way that is contextually appropriate, and builds sustainable local capability for ongoing improvement.  In considering these concerns we argue for the potential of a design-based research approach, based on the Learning Schools Model (McNaughton, Lai, Jesson & Wilson, 2013) to incorporate ‘co-design’ of the intervention.  We exemplify how the process of jointly designing the content and implementation within preset phases of implementation is possible in ways that draw on the varied expertise of in-country and external partners. The focus on collective knowledge building, collective problem solving and sharing practice within trusting relationships is considered to foster capacity for sustained adaptation and improvement at local levels. We believe such an approach is relevant to the challenges faced by Pacific Island Ministries of Education and their aid donor partners in designing effective interventions for learning improvement.

Author Biographies

Rebecca N Jesson, University of Auckland

Senior Lecturer, School of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Faculty of Education and Social Work,University of Auckland.

Rebecca Spratt, University of Auckland

Project Manager

Pacific Literacy and School Leadership Programme

University of Auckland