Alpha Laboratory

“Literacy in Dialogue – Participatory, Reflexive and Action-developing Research”

Participatory Research concerning Literacy as Social Practice in Adult Literacy Courses

It is a well known fact that teachers and learners in the field of adult literacy and adult basic education have different approaches to the written language and its applications, due to different experiences and socialization. These differences can be seen in various forms of the use of written language as well as in the associated attribution of meaning. Both influence the processes of teaching and learning. Professionals teaching in this field therefore require, in addition to expert knowledge and methodological and social competences, in particular a certain reflective competence concerning different forms of the use of written language an its application. Therefore, the research project aims at examining different individual concepts of literacy – in collabaration with learners and teachers. In this regard, it will contribute to the professionalisation of literacy work. Learners and teachers will be actively involved in the research process through participatory and dialogue structures supported by the researchers becoming facilitators of this process. Within the scope of action research as critical praxis the research process itself becomes a joint teaching-learning process. The projects aims at collaboratively developing a course concept and training module for literacy teachers, paying special attention to development of reflexive competences in relation to different concepts of literacy.

The central research question is:

To what extent can teachers take into account their own and others’ concepts of literacy when designing teaching-learning arrangements to enable learners to actively, reflexively, and self-determinedly expand their literacy skills?

The research project is planned cooperatively between the Helmut Schmidt University and the Hamburg Adult Education Centre. The cooperation with the Hamburg Adult Education Centre will ensure access to literacy courses and therefore learners and teachers, who are interested to become involved in the research process in a dialogue and participatory manner.

Project team and contact


Prof. Dr. Christine Zeuner
(Principal researcher)

Phone: +49-40-651-2796
Mail: zeuner(at)

Dr. phil. Antje Pabst
(Principal researcher, project coordinator)  

Phone: +49-40-6541-3908 
Mail: antje.pabst(at)

Dr. phil. Melanie Benz-Gydat

Phone: +49-40-6541-3392                             
Mail: benz-gydat(at)


Contact of cooperation partner

Susanne Kiendl 
(Project coordination, researcher)

Phone: +49 40-42731-2085
Mail: s.kiendl(at)


Duration and financing

The project will run from January 2021 to December 2023 and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) (grant number W1476AFO).


Letzte Änderung: 24. August 2022