With one in six adults reading at elementary levels, many adults have difficulty with daily tasks that involve reading, numeracy and problem solving1.
Adult literacy difficulties are pervasive and require a multi-pronged approach to addressing low adult literacy skills in our country. Our mission is to link theory and practice through inter-disciplinary research, professional development and community partnerships to understand the challenges and opportunities for adults with low literacy skills. Our research focus is broad and includes both programmatic interventions and more general areas of adult literacy.
ADULT BASIC EDUCATION – for adult students who are not enrolled in school and who want to improve their basic skills in reading, writing, math, listening, and speaking
ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE (ESL) – for adult students whose native language is not English to increase proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and listening
GENERAL EQUIVALENCE DIPLOMA (GED) – for adult students who wish to receive a credential equivalent to a high school diploma
REMEDIAL POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION – for adults at the college level who take non-credit bearing courses to improve math, reading, and writing skills
Other Areas of Adult Literacy
Digital literacy is the knowledge and skills that we use to access, understand, and use technology – devices, software, the internet – to not only work or get things done, but to problem solve, pool knowledge, and understand the world around us as well. Many adults do not have access to technology or the internet; many others do not have adequate skills to use the technology.
Examples of our current and past research projects in involving digital literacy include:
Do Information Technologies Help Reduce Discrimination? Public Sector Natural Field Experiments in a Developing Country (Alberto Chong, Ph.D.). In this project, researchers take advantage of a natural experiment in Bolivia, a country were all adult citizens must have national ID cards. While the authors show that staff that has access to information technologies is more productive, they also show that they are less prone to ask for bribes. The reason for the latter is that information technologies reduce discretionality of employees, for instance, they are unable to claim that the documentation “got lost” and that effort (and money) would be needed to find the documents.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Randomized Controlled Trials in Latin America (Alberto Chong, Ph.D.). This is a book that collects a series of randomized controlled trials and quasi experimental exercises in several countries of Latin America. The authors provide a broad discussion of their ICT interventions, which range from radio programs in rural areas, to text messages to remind people to save money. This research shows the conditions by which ICTs can be useful in developing areas, and in particular in Latin America.
Adaptive Educational Technologies for Literacy Instruction (Scott Crossley, Ph.D.). These projects focus on developing educational technologies that adapt to the students’ needs and abilities. The projects focus on providing strategy training to students to help increase literacy skills such as persuasive writing and text comprehension.
The Tool for the Automatic Analysis of Text Cohesion (TAACO): Automatic Assessment of Local, Global, and Text Cohesion (Scott Crossley, Ph.D.). A number of natural language processing (NLP) tools have been developed at Georgia State to automatically analyze texts. These tools focus on linguistic features related to text cohesion, lexical sophistication, syntactic complexity, and sentiment analysis. The tools can be used to better understand qualities of text related to literacy such as writing quality, text readability, and text comprehensibility.
Doctor-Patient Discourse in On-Line Email Diabetes Care (Scott Crossley, Ph.D.). The purpose of this project is to develop and validate a novel, automated linguistic complexity profile (LCP) to assess secure message content generated by English-speaking type 2 diabetes patients and their providers. The goal of the project is to create an automated, LCP-based prototype that delivers feedback to providers on the linguistic complexity of their secure messages in order to better align providers’ messages to their patients’ literacy.
Health information seeking behaviors in technology rich environments (Iris Feinberg, Ph.D.). This paper presents data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies with a focus on the interrelationships among health information seeking behavior (HISB), and health status or use of preventive health measures for U.S. adults both with and without a high school diploma. A key finding is that the Internet appears to play a key role in both enhancing health status and enabling use of preventive measures for those with and without a high school diploma; although, individuals without a high school diploma who use the Internet for health information derive substantial benefit in health status.
Developing Instructional Approaches Suited to the Cognitive and Motivational Needs of Struggling Adult Readers (Daphne Greenberg, Ph.D.). AutoTutor is an intelligent tutoring system on the web that delivers comprehension instruction. It includes conversational pedagogical agents that motivate and navigate the learner through learning lessons and activities. The system includes adaptive conversational trialogues with two animated conversational agents (teacher and student) that interact with the adult learner in each AutoTutor lesson. The curriculum has 35 lessons with trialogues that cover specific comprehension strategies. The system collects student performance on each item within each lesson for use by the students’ teachers.
Family Literacy is a term that describes intergenerational learning, where parents and children – or other adults and children – learn together. Strategies used in family literacy combine the effects of early childhood literacy interventions, early parenting interventions, adult literacy, and enhanced parental/adult support. Family literacy draws from academic traditions such as adult literacy, emergent literacy, special education, early childhood development, cognitive psychology and parental education.
An example of our work in Family Literacy is Project Healthy Grandparents, run by Dr. Susan Kelly in the School of Nursing and Health Professions. Project Healthy Grandparents is a community-based research program that tests the efficacy of an interdisciplinary intervention to improve the well-being of families where grandparents are raising their grandchildren in parent-absent households. Sometimes grandparents need help with their own literacy skills and are referred to adult literacy programs. Increasing grandparent literacy skills helps them be better able to care for themselves and their families.
Financial literacy is the opportunity for parents and children to learn together to improve intergenerational literacy.
Health literacy refers to how people get, understand and use health information. This refers to both an individual’s ability to use knowledge and skills and to how providers like medical professionals, health educators and others provide health information.
Examples of our current and past research projects involving health literacy include:
Stroke Counseling for Risk Reduction (SCORRE) in Young Adult African Americans (Dawn Aycock, Ph.D.). This study looks at refining and testing a tailored, theory-based intervention designed to increase awareness of stroke and improve lifestyle behaviors to reduce stroke risk in young adult African Americans.
Doctor-Patient Discourse in On-Line Email Diabetes Care (Scott Crossley, Ph.D.). The purpose of this project is to develop and validate an automated system to analyze emails between patients who have Type-2 Diabetes and their providers. The system will be able to deliver feedback to providers on how complex their email messages are in order to better align theses messages to their patients’ literacy levels.
Health Information Seeking Behaviors in Technology Rich Environments (Iris Feinberg, Ph.D., Daphne Greenberg, Ph.D.). This research project analyzes data from the program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) with a focus on the interrelationships between health information seeking behaviors and health status or use of preventive health measures for adults without a high school diploma. Findings indicate that individuals without a high school diploma who use the Internet for health information have substantially better health status than those who do not use the Internet.
Employee Engagement in Wellness Programs (Iris Feinberg, Ph.D., Daphne Greenberg, Ph.D., Michael Price, Ph.D.). This project looks at the relationships between reading, numeracy, digital and health insurance literacies as they relate to the knowledge of and use of workplace wellness programs.
SafeCare Health Literacy Research (Iris Feinberg, Ph.D.). This project analyzes the relationship between literacy levels of new mothers who are part of the SafeCare home visitation program in relation to their understanding and use of the SafeCare health manual and health booklet.
Patient Centeredness in an Urban Diabetes Clinic (Iris Feinberg, Ph.D.). This study analyzes audio taped interactions between patients and health providers to evaluate patient centeredness of providers and to assess if patient centeredness is related to health outcomes.
Evaluating the Availability and Scope of HIV Prevention, Treatment and Supports for Individuals with Intellectual, Developmental, and Significant Learning Disabilities (Andrew Roach, Ph.D.). This research conducts a community-based evaluation focused on the availability and quality of HIV/AIDS prevention services for individuals with intellectual, developmental and significant learning disabilities in the Atlanta metro area. Multiple stakeholder groups will be engaged as part of this project, including individuals living with HIV or AIDS, persons with disabilities, family members and leaders and employees from HIV/AIDS and disability service providers.
Workforce and workplace literacy refers to the ability to possess the reading, writing, numeracy and communication skills needed on the job. This includes skills to fill out job applications, succeed in interviews or screenings, read and understand written procedures and manuals and maintain a job.
Examples of our current and past research projects involving workforce and workplace literacy include:
Voluntary Training and Adult Competency Outcomes in a Cross Section of Countries (Alberto Chong, Ph.D.). The purpose of this study is to understand the association between voluntary training and adult competencies in literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology rich environments. Examining voluntary training and its impact on adult competency can reveal important insights on the role that innate motivation, as opposed to mandatory training participation, can play in adult cognitive abilities. Results from the study can help inform training participation policies which may lead to an increase in training effectiveness.
Georgia Pathways to Work: Explore-Engage-Employ (Andrew Roach, Ph.D.). The purpose of this project is to improve career-focused transition services for young Georgians (ages 14-24) who are eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation services. The project aims to increase the number of customized career pathways available to students and young adults with disabilities, the number of youth and young adults with disabilities who achieve competitive integrated employment and the average weekly wage and employer benefits achieved by youth and young adults with disabilities who enter the workforce.
For more information, contact Iris Feinberg, Assistant Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org
1 National Center for Education Statistics (2013). Literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments among U.S. adults: Results from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies 2012 (U.S. Department of Education, NCES 2014-008). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Follow the college’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to see this campaign in action and be sure to like and share our posts National Health Literacy Month (October), Family Literacy Month (November) and National Human Rights Month (December).
Are you interested in adults with low numeracy skills? The American Institute of Research may be commissioning several papers utilizing the PIAAC data. Visit their website to learn more.
Daphne Greenberg, Director
Professor, Learning Sciences Department
Daphne Greenberg is the Director of the ALRC and a professor in the department of Educational Psychology, Special Education, and Communication Disorders. She is currently the principal investigator of the Center of the Study of Adult Literacy (csal.gsu.edu), a national research center on adult literacy funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. She has received funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute for Literacy, the U.S. Department of Education, the Komen Foundation and the Department of Defense. She has appeared on numerous expert panels on Adult Literacy, and is a founding member of the Georgia Adult Literacy Advocacy group and the Literacy Alliance of Metro Atlanta.
Iris Feinberg, Associate Director
Iris Feinberg has an extensive professional and philanthropic background in helping individuals find and use information to make well-informed decisions. She is a post-doctoral research associate in Educational Psychology and in Public Health. She was the lead researcher on a GSU/CDC Seed Grant study in 2012-2013 that studied communications between patients with low health literacy and health care providers. Feinberg was awarded a commission from the American Institutes for Research (National Center for Education Statistics) to study how cognitive and non-cognitive factors affect health information seeking behaviors through data collected in the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). She is a founding board member of the Georgia Alliance for Health Literacy.
Elizabeth Tighe, Assistant Director
Elizabeth Tighe is an assistant professor in developmental psychology. She is also affiliated faculty with the Research on the Challenges of Acquiring Language and Literacy Initiative and the Adult Literacy Research Center at Georgia State University. Prior to joining the Georgia State faculty, she was a postdoctoral scholar at the Institute for the Science of Teaching and Learning at Arizona State University. She also completed an Institute of Education Sciences Pre-Doctoral Interdisciplinary Training (PIRT) Fellowship through the Florida Center for Reading Research in conjunction with her doctoral studies at Florida State University.
Michelle Mavreles, Research Coordinator
Michelle Mavreles graduated from Georgia State University with a master’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion and Behavioral Science and completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies with a concentration in Health Communication. She completed a Capstone project that focused on designing an implementation plan in the State of Georgia to help increase insurance consumers’ health literacy, ability to navigate the healthcare system and engagement in one’s health. Prior to joining the ALRC team, she completed an internship with one of the leading healthcare organization in the Southeast in which she helped increase employee awareness about ways to improve individual health. Currently, as a Research Coordinator for the ALRC Michelle is contributing to research studies that examine the utilization of health information and health communication between doctors and patients.
Assistant Professor, School of Nursing
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
Professor, Department of Economics
Associate Professor, Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language
Associate Professor, Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language
Assistant Professor, Educational Policy Studies
Associate Professor, Educational Psychology, Special Education, and Communication Disorders
Associate Professor, Associate Director, Health Management & Policy
Assistant Professor, Health Promotion & Behavior, School of Public Health
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
Graduate Research Assistants and Interns
These are some of the research projects that we are involved in. Contact Iris Feinberg for more information.
Center for the Study of Adult Literacy, a federally funded study committed to understanding the reading-related characteristics that are critical to helping adult learners reach their reading goals and to developing instructional approaches that are tailed to adult learners’ needs and interests.
“Understanding Health Information Seeking Behaviors of Adults with Low Literacy, Numeracy, and Problem Solving Skills,” an analysis of the 2012 Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies study funded by the American Institutes of Research.
Functional MRI (fMRI) of Adult Learners. This project is focused on developing methods for describing the struggling adult readers’ reading and learning systems from a neurobiological perspective. The specific aim of the project is to develop and evaluate the quality and reliability of an fMRI paradigm and its neurocognitive/experimental measures for adult struggling readers.
TV can affect health and health literacy in positive ways. Read more about Dr. Alberto Chong’s work with telenovelas. http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/04/02/471729332/-longreads-blame-it-on-bollywood.
There (may be) an app for that. The Institute of Medicine reports on Health Literacy and Consumer Facing Technology.
US High School Graduation Rate Hits New Record High. Check out the state by state data on the NCES website at http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/tables/ACGR_RE_and_characteristics_2013-14.asp.
Urban Institute Report Examines Low-Income Parents’ Participation in Education and Training. Find out more about the needs of low-income parents who race a variety of barriers to improving their skills and credentials at http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/413253-Balancing-School-Work-and-Family-Low-Income-Parents-Participation-in-Education-and-Training.PDF.
Here are some of the latest reports to Congress and individual State Snapshots on the state of Adult Literacy:
- Adult Education and Family Literacy Act of 1998: Annual Report to Congress, Program Year 2011-2012
- National Reporting System State Snapshots
Are you looking for a list of helpful and informative General Adult Literacy Websites? Interested in a free digital literacy assessment for struggling adult readers? Check out the Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment.
Adult Education and Literacy have historically been funded through the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA). In July 2014, this funding was reauthorized through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). You can find a side by side analysis of WIA vs WIOA in this report:
If you would like to have your organization included, please contact Iris Feinberg.
METRO ATLANTA ADULT LITERACY PROGRAMS
ADULT LITERACY ORGANIZATIONS
National Commission on Adult Literacy (URL pending)
Wiki – Adult Literacy Education Wiki (URL pending)
Are you a senior faculty member with a history of funding in the area of adult literacy (e.g., health literacy, family literacy, basic literacy, workplace literacy, digital literacy, numeracy)? As part of a university-wide initiative, we are excited to announce two faculty position openings for individuals interested in building “nationally and/or internationally recognized strength and critical mass around common research themes… with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration.” Faculty members will work in an inter-disciplinary fashion with other researchers interested in public health, economics, adult literacy, and family literacy.
Interested in becoming an AFFILIATE of the ALRC? Please contact Iris Feinberg at email@example.com for more information.