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Students in Family Literacy Programs Benefit from Planning and Leadership Roles

Article about Goodling Research Brief #4

by Joe Savrock (October 2008)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – When learners in family literacy programs are given an opportunity to take on curriculum planning, programmatic decision making, and leadership roles, they experience an increase in their personal and academic investment and achievement, according to a recent study.

The study, a collaborative project between researchers at the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy at Penn State, graduate students in the fall 2006 Family Literacy course, and a local Even Start family literacy program, explored the experiences of parents as leaders in the program’s parent advisory council (PAC). The study is described in Goodling's newly released Research Brief #4, titled Moving towards Participatory Adult Education: Involving Family Literacy Students in Meaningful Leadership Experiences.

The project’s researchers were Blaire Willson Toso, Esther Prins, Brendaly Drayton, Ramazan Gungor, Edith Gnanadass, and Hyung Min Park. The project was supported by data collected and analyzed by graduate students Lance Galloway, Rachel Johnson, and Mohammad Al-Thowaini.

The study found that the inclusion of learners in program governance enabled the program’s staff and PAC members to discuss and negotiate the need to meet program standards and the best ways to meet the standards. By having substantive input and leadership opportunities, the students were able to exercise power both in the program and in other parts of their lives.

The full study is available online (PDF, 133.2KB).