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The Research Goal serves:
  • To develop a sound conceptual, interdisciplinary research base for guiding practice and policy.
  • To develop research issues pertinent to family literacy. The Research Agenda brings to focus the work of the Goodling Institute and guides research nationally.
  • To provide a centralized link for research in family literacy, including research briefs, current research, research documents and reports, and presented papers. The Goodling Institute conducts and compiles research studies that move the field of family literacy forward. This research include not only studies funded by the Goodling Institute, but also other research submitted from the field.
  • To support graduate students through assistantships to focus on family literacy research. The support encourages development of researches in the family literacy.

The research conducted at the Goodling Institute is also connected to research at the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy.

Current and Past Research

The purpose of the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy Research Agenda is to identify research issues pertinent to family literacy. In 2001, the Goodling Institute brought together researchers, policymakers, and practitioners who were involved in Family Literacy to brainstorm a research agenda. In 2012, the Research Agenda was updated to reflect changes to the field. The new research agenda brings into focus current research as well as emerging trends in family literacy, and it serves to inform the field, guide legislation and policy development, and contribute to academic scholarship.


The original National Family Literacy Research Agenda (2001) can be viewed to understand changes in research within the field of family literacy.

Go to the Goodling Institute Publication page to review the Research Briefs.

Current Research Projects

The Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy is currently engaged in the following research and evaluation studies. 

Clymer, C., Kaiper, A., McLean, E., Prins, E., & Wolfe, E. Evaluation of the William Penn Foundation’s Family Literacy Initiative. Funder: William Penn Foundation. Amount: $487,905. Dates: 2018-21

  • The William Penn Foundation (WPF) has funded five organizations in Philadelphia to implement family literacy programs that include early childhood education, adult education, and interactive literacy activities for caregivers and children. The goal of the Family Literacy Initiative is to “help organizations deepen and expand the connections between adult and child literacy programming and improve language and literacy skills and practices for adults and children.”The Goodling Institute is providing technical assistance to the programs and conducting the evaluation, using data sources such as pre-post caregiver surveys, caregivers’ pre-post test scores in literacy and/or English language, home literacy logs, pre-post measures of children’s language and literacy development, school records, and program records. The five organizations include: Center for Literacy, Indochinese American Council, KenCrest, Supportive Older Women Network, and Nationalities Services Center.

Completed Research Projects (Selected)

Prins, E., Kaiper, A., & Stickel, T. Read to Your Child/Grandchild: Family Literacy for Incarcerated Parents in Pennsylvania. Funder: Criminal Justice Research Center at Penn State ($5,000). 2018-19


McLean, E. G., Clymer, C., & Prins, E. Evaluation of the Smithsonian Learning Lab and Project Zero in preschool classrooms. Funder: Smithsonian Institution ($9,859). 2018


Prins, E., Clymer, C., Elder, S.F., Needle, M., Raymond, R., & Toso, B.W. Career Pathways Programming for Lower-Skilled Adults and Immigrants: A Comparative Analysis of Adult Education Providers in High-Need Cities. Funder: Institute of Education Sciences ($399,908).  2015-2018


Prins, E. (Co-PI), Clymer, C. Toso, B.W., and Monnat, S. (Co-PI). Literacy, numeracy, ICT skills, post-initial education, and health status: Variation by race/ethnicity and educational attainment among U.S. respondents. Funder: American Institutes for Research and the National Center for Education Statistics ($8000). 2014


Prins, E. (PI), Huang-Pollock, C., Schaffer, B., Toso, B.W., Woodhouse, S., & Witherspoon, D. P-PLAN: Parents planning and learning about attention-related needs. Funder: PSU College of Education Research Initiation Grant ($8304) and the PSU Children, Youth, and Families Consortium ($6500).2012-14


Prins, E., Kassab, C., & Campbell, K. Characteristics of Pennsylvania students pursuing postsecondary education: A rural-urban analysis of data from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Funder: Center for Rural Pennsylvania ($50,000). 2012-13


Prins, E. (PI). Poor women's involvement in community-based adult education: Consequences for social networks, social support, and mental health. Funder: Spencer Foundation ($40,000). 2009-12


Prins, E., Kassab, C., Drayton, B., & Gungor, R. Use and impact of GED distance learning options on student outcomes. Funder: Center for Rural Pennsylvania ($50,000). 2009-10


Willits, F., Sherow, S., & Prins, E., & Toso, B. W. Pennsylvania’s forgotten rural immigrants: Strengthening Pennsylvania’s diverse communities. Funder: College of Agricultural Sciences Seed Grant Program, Pennsylvania State University ($14,770). 2006-08


Prins, E., & Schafft, K. Examining residential mobility and family literacy educational outcomes among poor families in Pennsylvania: A rural-urban comparison. Funder: PSU College of Education Research Initiation Grant ($8,900). 2005-06

*Contact the author(s) for additional information.



Documents, Reports, and Publications

  • Kassab, C., & Prins, E. (2013). How involvement in adult education and family literacy programs shapes women's social networks, social support, and mental health. In E. P. Isaac-Savage, J. Jordan, K. Foushee, C. Hickman, & B. Shannon-Simms (Eds.), Proceedings of the 54th Annual Adult Education Research Conference(pp. 239-245). St. Louis: University of Missouri-St. Louis.


  • Prins, E. & Van Horn, B. (2012). Adult learning in family literacy: Special considerations for women learners. In B.H. Wasik & B. Van Horn (Eds.), Handbook of Family Literacy (2nd edition). New York: Routledge.


  • Prins, E., Carrera, M., Drayton, B., Gungor, R., Miller, F., & Spencer, T. (2011, June). Women's involvement in adult education and family literacy: Consequences for social networks, social support, and mental health. In S. Carpenter, S. Dossa, & B.J. Osborne (Eds.), Proceedings of the 52nd National Conference of the Adult Education Research Conference (AERC) and the 30th National Conference of the Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education (CASAE) (pp. 543-549). Toronto, Ontario: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.




  • Lynch, J., & Prins, E. (in press). Teaching and learning about family literacy and family literacy programs. Routledge.
  • Prins, E., Clymer, C., Kaiper-Marquez, A., & Toso, B. W. (2020). Family literacy. In T. Rocco, M. C. Smith, R. Mizzi, L. Merriweather, & J. Hawley (Eds.), Handbook of adult and continuing education (pp. 205-213). Stylus.
  • Weirauch, D. (2012). Program improvement through action research. In B.H. Wasik & B. Van Horn (Eds.), Handbook of Family Literacy (2nd edition). New York: Routledge. 
  • Semali, L.M. (2004). Mapping Success: Family and child education (FACE) Program.

          A short progress report or the full paper can be found here.

  • Askov, E.N., Grinder, E.L., & Kassab, C. (2005). Impact of family literacy on children (update section). Family Literacy Forum, 4(1), 38-39.

           For a summary, please review the annotation for this article.


  • Prins, E. (2012). "I don't feel alone anymore": Social support and mental health for women in family literacy. In B.W. Toso (Ed.), Proceedings of the 2012 National Conference on Family Literacy Research Strand (pp. 56-64). University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University.
  • Toso, B. & Gungor, R. (2012). Parent engagement and parent leadership. In B.H. Wasik & B. Van Horn (Eds.), Handbook of Family Literacy (2nd edition). New York: Routledge.
  • Prins, E., Toso, B., & Schafft, K. (2009). "It feels a little family to me": Social interaction and support among women in adult educations and family literacy. Adult Education Quarterly, 59(4), 335-352.
  • Toso, B., Prins, E., Drayton, B., Gungor, R., & Gnanadass, E. (2009). Finding voice: Shared decision making and student leadership in a family literacy program. Adult Basic Education and Literacy Journal, 3(3), 151-160.


  • Prins,E., & Toso, B. (2008). Defining and measuring parenting for educational success: A critical discourse analysis of the parent education profile. American Educational Research Journal, 45(3), 555-596.
  • Grinder, E.L., Longoria Saenz, E., Askov, E.N., & Aldemir, J. (2005). What's happening during the parent-child interactive literacy component of family literacy programs? Family Literacy Forum, 4(1), 12-18.
    • For a summary, please review the annotation for this article.


Interactive Literacy Activities Toolkit

  • The Interactive Literacy Activities (ILA) Toolkit is intended to provide guidance and suggestions for implementing ILA in family literacy programs. Included are ideas for in-person, hybrid, take-home, and remote interactive literacy activities.

Adult-Child Interactive Reading Inventory (ACIRI) Picture Book List

Interactive Literacy/PACT Observation Tool, Instruction Manual and Tool

  • This instrument, piloted in Pennsylvania Family Literacy sites, is useful as a teacher training tool. Experienced teachers may also find it helpful in focusing parent-child interactive literacy instruction. It is intended to encourage teacher reflection rather than be used for teacher evaluation, and to be used twice or more per year. The instrument requires an observer and a teacher before, during, and after the interactive literacy time.