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Dr. Esther S. Prins

Dr. Esther S. Prins

Professor of Education (LLAED)

Phone: 814-865-0597

305B Keller Building
University Park, PA 16802


  • Learning and Performance Systems


  • Lifelong Learning and Adult Education


  • Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy (ISAL)
  • Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy


Dr. Prins holds a Ph.D. in Adult Education from Cornell. Her research employs critical and sociocultural theories to examine adult and family literacy, adult basic education, rural adult education, and participatory approaches to education, community development, and research. In particular, her scholarship explores the "wider benefits" of adult education and how adult education reproduces and/or mitigates inequities rooted in race/ethnicity, class, gender, and immigration status.

Her research has been published in numerous journals across several disciplines:


  • education (e.g., American Educational Research Journal, Teachers College Record, Journal of Research in Rural Education),
  • adult education (e.g., Adult Education Quarterly, International Journal of Lifelong Education, Studies in the Education of Adults),
  • comparative and international education (e.g., International Journal of Educational Development, International Review of Education)
  • distance education (American Journal of Distance Education),
  • sociology, community development, and planning (e.g., Rural Sociology, Journal of the Community Development Society),
  • ethnic studies (Journal of Latinos and Education), 
  • health (PLOS One), and
  • methodology (Action Research, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education).

Dr. Prins has led or participated in research and evaluation projects funded by the National Science Foundation, Institute of Education Sciences, Spencer Foundation, Center for Rural Pennsylvania, Smithsonian Institution, and William Penn Foundation, among others. 

Areas of Expertise

Age Levels



Equity and Diversity

Education Levels

Adult Education

Education Types

Continuing Ed
Family Literacy
Immigrant Ed
Minority Ed
Rural Ed

Educational Studies

Critical & Feminist Theory

Higher Education

Community Engagement
Higher Education

Individual Difference

Health Issues
Learning Processes

Methodological Research

Discourse Analysis
Interpretive Research
Multiple Methods
Qualitative Research

Social Issues

Civic Engagement
Comparative and International Education
Race and Ethnicity
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