KU Center for Research on Learning

KU Center for Research on Learning



Improving Literacy Instruction for Adults

Improving Literacy Instruction for Adults


About the Project


Research Aims:

Adult education programs strive to provide effective literacy instruction for adults seeking their services. A growing convergence of research findings reveal how to improve instruction with children and adolescents. We proposed to extend the knowledge garnered from these younger populations to addressing adults’ needs. Our goal was to validate instructional interventions appropriate for adults with limited literacy proficiency

Our project offered a multi-disciplinary, systematic, and programmatic research plan with three aims. First, we investigated what reading component skills are incorporated within common assessments of literacy (CASAS, NAEP, GED). This knowledge aids in the design of effective adult interventions and provides necessary information to explicate an intervention model linking the relationship of reading components and existing interventions to global adult literacy outcomes. Our group had extensive success improving child and youth literacy and, more recently, in adult literacy in educational settings. We adapted our interventions to the adult learner and adults’ instructional settings.

Second, we selected appropriate interventions based on our Aim 1 findings and rigorously tested these interventions with adults under well-controlled conditions. We were specifically interested in enhancing performance on the component reading skills of word analysis, fluency, and reading comprehension. We predicted that these skills will be closely related to gains on adult literacy measures.

Our final aim addressed the significant issue of successfully translating research findings into practice in conventional adult education settings. More specifically, these studies examined how effective interventions are on learners’ outcomes when the research controls and supports are reduced.

Other links of interest: