The Adult Literacy Research Center (ALRC) at Georgia State University is excited to announce the first postdoctoral fellowship training program in the country specifically designed to support Ph.D. graduates interested in adult literacy.
Why Adult Literacy?
An assessment of U.S. adult skills indicates that roughly 50% of our adult population (16-years old+) may struggle to read text to perform daily tasks, with about 20% of these adults performing at the lowest ends of proficiency. Deficits in reading skills can be a barrier to an individual’s educational, occupational and personal goals. To build their knowledge and skills, these adults may enroll in adult education programs, GED or high school equivalency programs or community college and technical training programs. However, these programs may not have the curricula, assessments, technologies or other innovations that adult learners with low basic skills need.
We need a new generation of highly skilled researchers who understand the adult learners’ heterogeneous needs and the educators and programs that aim to support them, who have expertise in theory and methods, who are well-rounded communicators and collaborators, and who are trained to conduct research on the adult learner population across a wide array of educational settings.
About the Fellowship
Our postdoctoral fellowship program develops a new generation of researchers who will conduct and communicate high-quality scientific research in areas that are important to policymakers, practitioners and other researchers. The focus of the fellowship includes the following five areas, as they pertain to adults 16-years and older:
- Reading comprehension
- Distinct student skill profiles
- Proficient academic reading
Many of our projects include an intersection of these areas, allowing our fellows to build expertise in multiple domains concurrently. Fellows may also merge their existing interests with one of the above domains.
Our fellows will develop
- broad and deep working knowledge of the population, settings, and research issues relevant to the field
- experience with advanced research methods and statistics
- practical experience obtaining and working on research grants
- hands-on experience collaborating with and disseminating knowledge to a range of audiences (technical and non-technical)
With these skills, fellows will be well-prepared and highly competitive for jobs in education research including academic positions and non-academic positions (e.g., contract firms, state education agencies) and will be pioneers in an education research field that is receiving ever more attention.
Funding for the fellowship is provided by the Institute of Educational Sciences (IES), Training Grant #R305B200007.
Dr. Daphne Greenberg
Greenberg is a distinguished university professor in the Department of Learning Sciences at Georgia State. She is a leading expert in adult literacy, principal investigator of the Center for the Study of Adult Literacy and the director of the Adult Literacy Research Center. View Dr. Greenberg’s profile for more information.
Dr. Elizabeth L. Tighe
Tighe is an assistant professor in the Psychology Department at Georgia State, has a joint appointment in the Department of Learning Sciences, and is the assistant director of the Adult Literacy Center. Dr. Tighe specializes in the assessment and reading skills of struggling adult readers. View Dr. Tighe’s profile for more information.
Dr. Jason’s Braasch
Jason Braasch is an associate professor in the Department of Learning Sciences and an affiliate of the College of Education & Human Development’s Adult Literacy Research Center. His research examines cognitive processes that underlie the evaluation of content and source information when reading texts found on the Internet, and the ways individual differences encourage (or discourage) successful learning.
Dr. Sarah Elizabeth Carlson
Carlson is an assistant professor in the Department of Learning Science at Georgia State. She specializes in the psychological foundations of education, learning and cognition, and the cognitive processes of reading comprehension through various aspects of assessment. View Dr. Carlson’s profile for more information.
Dr. Kathryn McCarthy
Tabitha Stickel, Ph.D.
Most Recent Job and Description: Graduate student (Ph.D.) at Penn State University’s Lifelong Learning and Adult Education program. Her dissertation examined Native American students’ experiences in an adult basic and vocational education classroom and their sense of belonging in educational spaces.
Research Experiences: Conducted research on Native American students’ sense of belonging in the classroom, which stems from her time teaching adult basic and developmental education classes in the Southwest. She is particularly interested in students’ sociolinguistic backgrounds and their connection to experiences of the adult education classroom. In addition to her dissertation research, Tabitha has conducted research on a family literacy program (Read to Your Child/Grandchild) in a state correctional institute, collected data for family literacy program evaluations, and assisted in research on Montana’s response to the opioid epidemic.
Current Research Interests: Her other research interests include various areas of adult literacy including: the sociolinguistics of adult literacy curriculum and instruction, health literacy particularly in highly stigmatized areas of health care including mental health and addiction, and adult literacy programming for incarcerated individuals.
Marcia Davidson, Ph.D.
Most Recent Job and Description: Senior Reading Advisor FHI360. Leading the Reading Team for the USAID funded Partnership for Learning Early Grade Reading Project in Ghana, a 7+ year scaled reading program in 11 official Ghanaian languages and English, including a national radio reading program. Funded by USAID.
- Developed and led the implementation of early grade reading programs in 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, S. and S.E. Asia, and the South Pacific, advised and contributed to the development of programs in 4+ additional countries.
- Developed the scope and sequence for reading interventions, teacher professional development including scripted lessons and instructional routines for teachers, coaching models and snapshot impact evaluations for classroom reading interventions in Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, S. Africa, Zambia, Bangladesh, and Cambodia with all programs developed in the language of instruction for each country.
- Designed one of the first early grade reading interventions funded by the World Bank and USAID and implemented in Liberia, and contributed to the development of the learning outcome measure. Results after 1.5 years of implementation indicated significant improvements in foundational reading skills.
- Provided consultation to a USAID implementing partner to redesign an early grade reading project in Mozambique in Portuguese.
- Consulted with a World Bank team on an early grade reading project in Tonga.
- Conducted research on the impact of the reading programs on student learning, implementation fidelity, teacher knowledge and student learning, and the contribution of intensive support on student learning.
Current Research Interests:
- The role of explicit instruction in adult foundational reading programs
- Examining reading comprehension and the role of morphology in low literate adults.
- Improved reading assessment measures for adults, including mapping current cognitive and reading assessments to reading constructs in a low literate adult population.
Doctoral students from a variety of educational backgrounds are welcome to apply for the fellowship. We are particularly interested in training researchers who come from non-traditional pathways (e.g., doctorate-holders currently practicing in applied settings with an interest to return to research) and those who may bring a unique lens to the issues (e.g., researchers from traditionally under-represented communities or from alternative academic fields). Specific eligibility information is listed below:
- An interest in understanding and improving literacy outcomes for adults (16-years old+) with skill gaps
- A doctoral degree in fields relevant to adult learning and literacy, such as educational/developmental/cognitive psychology, linguistics, adult and life-long learning, and statistics/research methods
- U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status
Salary: The postdoctoral fellowship includes a stipend ($60,000 per year), a stipend of up to $2,200 for fringe benefits (including health and dental insurance), a travel budget (to include annual meetings in Washington, D.C.) and a research support stipend to cover independent projects, dissemination work, supplies, etc.
A Lifetime of Learning: A Fellow’s Journey to Improve Literacy for All
Inside IES Research is publishing a series of blogs showcasing a diverse group of IES-funded education researchers and fellows that are making significant contributions to education research, policy, and practice. In this guest blog, Dr. Marcia Davidson, an IES postdoctoral fellow in the Georgia State University Postdoctoral Training on Adult Literacy (G-PAL), shares her experiences and discusses her path forward.
Our fellowship program is housed in the ALRC in the College of Education & Human Development at Georgia State. The ALRC has a diverse group of 18 affiliate faculty and 25 student members representing disciplines of Educational Psychology, Psychology, Nursing and Health Professions, Learning Sciences, Economics, Applied Linguistics, Evaluation and Research, English and Public Health. As a result of the multidisciplinary nature of the ALRC, fellows receive interdisciplinary training as they develop their competencies to design and conduct research on adult learners.
About Georgia State University
The training program occurs at Georgia State, the Southeast’s urban research university and ranked among the nation’s top 108 public and private universities in the Carnegie Foundation’s elite category of Very High Research Activity. Research awards have surpassed the $150M milestone, a 75% increase since FY11. Research expenditures also reached ~$150M, a 77% increase since FY11. Federal sponsorship accounts for 70% of the total research volume. Georgia State offers a well-equipped environment in which to support this project’s activities. Georgia State’s College of Education & Human Development (CEHD) maintains a research bureau that supports pre and post-award activities.
To apply, please submit:
- Academic transcripts
- Curriculum Vita
- Three letters of recommendation
- Two-page (single-spaced) personal statement addressing research background, career goals, knowledge of adult learner population, and interest in topics relevant to adult literacy and adult learners.
- example of a scholarly paper
Please submit your application to GPAL@gsu.edu. Selected applicants will receive follow-up information about virtual interviews and, depending on pandemic conditions, a potential on-campus interview.
Davidson, M., & Cunha, N. (submitted). Measuring impact from a one-day intensive support visit to targeted schools during a primary grade reading intervention in Ghana. Submitted to the International Journal of Educational Research.
Tighe, E. L., Tock, J. L., Petscher, Y., Kaldes, G., & Davidson, M. (manuscript under review). Exploring Profiles of Engagement in Literacy, Numeracy, Writing, and Computer Skills-Use with Low-Skilled U.S. Adults. Submitted to Adult Education Quarterly.
Cunha, N., & Davidson, M. (2022, April). Impact of a remediation intervention in the context of a larger reading intervention for early grades in Ghana. CIES 2022 Conference, Minneapolis, MN.
Davidson, M., (2022, February). A non-traditional route to U.S. adult literacy research: An international perspective on 10 years of work in early grade reading in low- and middle-income countries with young children, teachers, and policy leaders. Presentation at the Developmental Seminar in the Psychology Department, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.
Davidson, M., Walter, K., & Tighe, E. (2022, April). Strengthening adult literacy skills through family reading engagement using the Booksmart library [Conference presentation]. COABE 2022 Convention, Seattle, WA.
Stickel, T. (2022, April) Examining educational landscapes: Adult Education & Native American communities. Virtual presentation to AERA’s Adult Education & Adult Literacy Special Interest Group.
Stickel, T. (2022, April) Creating ‘place’ in a digital world: Establishing classrooms as defined spaces in distance education settings. Coalition on Adult Basic Education session presentation. Seattle, WA.
Stickel, T. (2022, April) Adult skills & technology research: What adult educators and researchers need to know. (Co-presenter as part of the CREATE Adult Skills Network), Coalition on Adult Basic Education. Seattle, WA.
Stickel, T. , Belzer, A., & Alamprese, J. (2022, April) Effective partnerships between adult education and other sectors to increase social, personal, and economic wellbeing Coalition on Adult Basic Education. Seattle, WA.
Stickel, T. (2022, April) Creating classroom communities: Fostering student belonging in ABE Classrooms Coalition on Adult Basic Education, Seattle, WA.
Stickel, T. (2022, April) Native American Adult Basic Education (ABE) Students & the Dynamics of Classroom Belonging. Virtual research Workshop on Language Basic Education in Adults (Collaborative workshop with German Institute for Adult Education, Leibniz Centre for Lifelong Learning (DIE), University of Cologne, Georgia State University, and the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy).
Stickel, T. (2022) Adult readers making sense of coherence-A contrastive case study ALRC Data Friday, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia.
Stickel, T. (2022, March) Adult readers making sense of picture stories-A contrastive case study. Department of Learning Sciences Lunch and Learn, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia.
Stickel, T. (2022, January) Piecing together student belonging. Virtual presentation to Northland Pioneer College’s Student Success Alliance Committee.
Stickel, T. (2022, January) Creating classroom communities: Fostering student belonging. A virtual professional development workshop for Northland Pioneer College’s Career & College Preparation department.