Earlier this week, the DMU Square Mile office received raw data showing the impact of the work of De Montfort University’s paired-reading mentors at New College, Leicester. It’s a spreadsheet of numbers showing reading ages in August 2014 and reading ages in June 2015 for around sixty 11-12 year-olds (year 7/8). Each child has attempted to improve his or her reading by working with a DMU undergraduate or community volunteer by meeting on a weekly basis and reading together. Move pupils have improved. It almost sounds too easy… But this requires the will of the pupil to attend and the volunteer to give up his or her spare time to attend. This is a big, yet rewarding, commitment for the student. Read some of the DMU Square Mile volunteering experiences by students Janvi Pala, Sarah Clark and Jonathan Boreland. Some of the colour-coded data on the spread sheet is black – where the child did not engage in the project, others are red, where insufficient progress was made, but thankfully this data shows that in many cases the spreadsheet glows green – indicating good progress.
There is a lot of data to analyse and a lot of contexts to consider if you appreciate that some of these children started the year aged at least 11-years-old with a reading age of six or under. In very crude terms, 78 per cent (47 children) made improvements to reading or spelling by a minimum of six months or more (in some cases 5-6 years). Twelve per cent (13 children) made no progress. I’m currently discussing how best to use this data for a research project with colleagues in DMU’s Education Studies department and also exploring whether I can link it back as a case study for a journal article around the simple ways universities can share benefits Higher Education and delivering impact for their local communities. DMU Square Mile will be releasing lots more data from the paired reading project at New College once it is verified. Even at this very early stage of the data crunching a simple conclusion can be drawn: that volunteer paired reading mentors do appear to have a positive impact on the majority of children they work with, and find it a hugely rewarding experience. To be a reading mentor in 2015/16 contact firstname.lastname@example.org