Goodling Institute Research
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.
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.
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). 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
- Research suggests that poor women with low educational attainment tend to have smaller, less supportive social networks and, concomitantly, to experience depression and other forms of psychological distress. The purpose of this study was to examine how poor women with limited educational attainment use family literacy and adult education programs to construct supportive social networks, and in turn, how these networks influence women's mental health. The study investigated the types of emotional and material resources women exchange with each other; whether intensity of participation increases the number and quality of women's social ties; and whether women who establish more and higher quality social ties experience improved mental health (i.e., depression, sense of control over their lives).
- The mixed methods study included 44 women in five adult education and family literacy (AEFL) programs in Pennsylvania. The methods included a structured pre-post questionnaire, regarding relationships with program participants and staff, social networks, social support, social interaction, and mental health; interviews with a sub-set of 26 learners; daily social interaction records documenting interactions with students and teachers from the program outside of class time; program records and participant reading scores and participation data; and observations of classrooms and program events. The findings suggest that AEFL programs have the potential to nurture women’s mental health and supportive social networks, but these results are not uniform across participants or programs.
Prins, E., Kassab, C., Drayton, B., & Gungor, R. Use and impact of GED distance learning options on student outcomes. Center for Rural Pennsylvania ($50,000). 2009-10
- This study investigated the types, use, and effectiveness of distance learning (DL) for General Education Development (GED®) candidates in rural Pennsylvania. Specifically, the study sought to identify the types and use of GED® distance education in rural Pennsylvania; describe the demographic characteristics and participation patterns of rural GED® students in DL and face-to-face classes; determine the effectiveness of DL in preparing rural students to pass the GED® tests; assess the cost of DL provision; and examine the advantages and disadvantages of DL for GED® study. The primary data sources included the Bureau of Adult Basic and Literacy Education’s (ABLE) e-Data system and GED® Demographics survey, a telephone survey of non-ABLE DL providers, and telephone interviews with a key informant and DL staff members and students from ABLE-funded programs. The research found that DL is as effective as face-to-face classes in preparing students to pass the GED® tests.
Willits, F., Sherow, S., & Prins, E., & Toso, B. W. Pennsylvania’s forgotten rural immigrants: Strengthening Pennsylvania’s diverse communities. College of Agricultural Sciences Seed Grant Program, Pennsylvania State University ($14,770). 2006-08
- The goal of this study was to contribute to public understanding of rural immigrants in Pennsylvania. The study addressed the following objectives: (1) to describe the characteristics of various immigrant groups in selected rural counties of Pennsylvania as perceived by knowledgeable informants in those counties; (2) to assess the perceptions of these key informants concerning community receptivity of these immigrants; and (3) to determine the types of difficulties that informants perceive immigrants encounter and the availability and use of community social services. The data sources included a survey and key informant interviews with adult ESL providers. Of the 30 rural counties with 500 or more residents who spoke English “less than very well” (per US Census data), 22 (73%) were represented in the survey and 21 (70% percent) in subsequent interviews.
- ESL providers’ depictions of local responses to immigrants ranged from welcoming to hostile. They identified four constellations of factors that influenced receptivity: national and local politics, the labor market and immigrant occupations, immigrants’ ability to look or act like native‐born residents, and community institutions. This study reveals how differing contexts of reception are believed to influence immigrants' incorporation into rural communities. It also highlights the role of educators and educational institutions in creating a welcoming atmosphere that supports immigrants' socioeconomic well‐being.
Prins, E., & Schafft, K. Examining residential mobility and family literacy educational outcomes among poor families in Pennsylvania: A rural-urban comparison. Source: PSU College of Education Research Initiation Grant ($8,900). 2005-06
- This study examined how poverty and residential mobility influence low-income adults’ persistence in family literacy programs in Pennsylvania. Twelve out of 20 program directors reported that learners typically moved at least once a year. In five of these high-mobility programs, moving was reported to significantly hinder persistence. Geographic location and the availability of inexpensive and subsidized housing increased mobility. The 17 learners we interviewed had collectively moved 78 times in the previous five years, for an average of once per year. One-half of the moves were within 15 miles, yet even short distance moves often delayed progress and disrupted program participation. Although residential mobility did not hinder persistence in all programs, it is part of a constellation of poverty-related problems (e.g., poor health, lack of child care and transportation) that pose challenges for learners to attend classes regularly and meet their educational goals.
*Contact the author(s) for additional information.
- 2019 National Center for Families Learning Conference Presentations
- Clymer, C. & McLean, E. (2019, November). Indicators of Program Quality: A framework to build quality family literacy programs.
- Clymer, C. & Stickel, T., Elison, M. (2019, November). The 2020 Census and Adult Education.
- McLean, E. & Clymer, C. (2019, November). Interactive Literacy Activities: A method for promoting learning.
- Stickel, T., Prins, E., & Kaiper, A. (2019, November). Family Literacy Behind Bars: The read to your child program in a Pennsylvania Prison.
- 2018 National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) Conference Presentations, Fort Lauderdale, FL:
- Clymer, C. & Toso, B. (2015, April). Adult health literacy: How is it related to literacy, numeracy, technological problem-solving skills, and adult learning? Paper presented at the Commission on Adult Basic Education, Denver, CO.
- Prins, E. (2015, March). "The world needs your stories": Creating digital stories in an Irish family literacy program. Paper presented at the National Center for Families Learning Conference, Houston, TX.
- Prins, E. (2014, November). Digital storytelling in family literacy: A case study from Ireland. Paper presented at the Conference and Annual Meeting of the Commission of Professors of Adult Education, Charleston, SC.
- Prins, E. (2014, September). Demographic, educational, and financial characteristics of Pennsylvania FAFSA applicants, 2010-2011: A rural-urban analysis of degree type. Pennsylvania State Data Center Data Users Conference, Harrisburg, PA.
- Toso, B.W., Prins, E., Campbell, K., Schaefer, B., Witherspoon, D., & Woodhouse, S. (2014, June). "You have to be proactive with your child's health": Learning and health literacy among caregivers of children with ADHD. Paper presented at the Adult Education Research Conference, Harrisburg, PA.
- Kassab, C., Campbell, K. & Prins, E. (2014, May). Characteristics of adult learners and GED graduates: A rural-urban analysis of Pennsylvania postsecondary students. Paper presented at the Hendricks Best Practices for Adult Learners Conference, State College, PA.
- Witherspoon, D., Woodhouse, S., Davis, D., Campbell, K., Huang-Pollock, C., Prins, E., Schaefer, B., & Toso, B.W. (2014, April). Considering culture in ADHD treatment for African American, lower-SES families: Using community-engaged research to develop practice. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Alexandria, VA.
- Toso, B.W., Mooney, A., & Prins, E. (2014, April). "We're going to put him on Methylin": Parents' health literacy needs concerning children's ADHD. Presented at the National Conference on Family Literacy, Louisville, KY.
- Toso, B.W. & Grinder, E.L. (2013, April). Meaningful roles for parents: The benefits of leadership. Paper presented at the National Conference on Family Literacy, Louisville, KY.
- Toso, B.W., Prins, E., & Mooney, A. (2013, March). The changing face of immigrants: Implications for ESL and ABE programs. Paper presented at the Pennsylvania Association for Adult and Continuing Education Conference (PAACE), State College, PA.
- Prins, E. (2012, March). "I don't feel alone anymore": Social support and mental health for women in family literacy. Paper presented at the National Conference on Family Literacy, San Diego, CA.
- 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. Paper presented at the joint meeting of the Adult Education Research Conference (AERC) and the Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education (CASAE), Toronto, Canada.
- Prins, E., Drayton, B., Gungor, R., & Kassab, C. (2011, April). GED preparation through distance learning in rural Pennsylvania. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association (Adult Literacy and Adult Education, SIG), New Orleans, LA.
- Prins, E., Drayton, B. & Gungor, R. (2011, March). Use and outcomes of distance learning for GED students in rural Pennsylvania. Paper presented at the Pennsylvania Association for Adult and Continuing Education Conference, State College, PA.
- Prins, E., Carrera, M., Drayton, B., Gungor, R., & Spencer, T. (2011, March). “I don’t feel alone anymore”: Women’s social support networks and mental health in adult education and family literacy programs. Paper presented at the Pennsylvania Association for Adult and Continuing Education Conference, State College, PA.
- Toso, B.W. & Prins, E.S. (2010, April). Receptivity toward immigrants in rural Pennsylvania: Perceptions of adult English as Second Language providers. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Denver, Colorado.
- Van Horn, B.L. & Kassab, C. (2011, March). What Do We Know About GED Candidates. Paper presented at the Pennsylvania Association for Adult Continuing Education Conference. State College, PA.
- Drayton, B., Gungor, R., & Toso, B. (2009, March). Parent leadership and decision making in Family Literacy: Fostering student voice and ownership. Presented at the National Conference on Family Literacy. Orlando, Florida, March 1-3.
- Drayton, B. & Prins, E. (2008). Participant leadership in adult basic education: Negotiating academic progress, aspirations, and relationships. In M. L. Rowland (Ed.), Proceedings of the 27th Annual Midwest Research-to-Practice Conference in Adult, Continuing, Community, and Extension Education (pp. 50-55). Bowling Green: Western Kentucky University.
- Schafft, K.A. & Prins, E.S. (2007, April). Poverty, Residential Mobility and Persistence across Urban and Rural Family Literacy Programs in Pennsylvania. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Chicago, IL.
Documents, Reports, and Publications
- Belzer, A., Leon, T., Patterson, M., Rhodes, C., Salas-Isnardi, F., Vanek, J., Webb, C., Willson-Toso, B. (2020). COVID-19 Rapid Response Report From the Field. ProLiteracy and EdTech Center @ World Education, https://proliteracy.org/Portals/0/pdf/Research/COVID-19/COVID-19-Report.pdf?ver=2020-07-31-090141-130.
- Kaiper-Marquez, A., Wolfe, E., Clymer, C., Lee, J., McLean, E.G., Prins, E., Stickel, T. (2020). On the fly: Adapting quickly to emergency remote instruction in a family literacy programme. International Review of Education, 1-24. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11159-020-09861-y
- McLean, E.G., & Clymer, C. (July, 2020). COVID-19 Exposes the Need for Family Literacy Programming. [Blog post]. Ed Tech Center @ World Education, https://edtech.worlded.org/covid-19-exposes-the-need-for-family-literacy-programming/
- Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy (2020, April) Remote instruction for family literacy programs: Dealing with COVID-19 challenges in the virtual classroom. National webinar and resources.
Prins, E. (2017). Digital storytelling in adult basic education and literacy programming. In K. Yang & R. Lawrence (Eds.), Participatory visual approaches to adult and continuing education: Practical insights. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 154, pp. 29-38.
Prins, E. (2017). Digital storytelling in adult education and family literacy: A case study from rural Ireland. Learning, Media and Technology, 42(3), 308-323.
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.
Schafft, K. & Prins, E. (2009). Poverty, residential mobility, and persistence across urban and rural family literacy programs in Pennsylvania. Adult Basic Education and Literacy Journal, 3(1), 3-12.
Askov, E.N., Kassab, C., Weirauch, D. (2005). Women in Pennsylvania's family literacy programs: Effects of participant characteristics on extent of participation. Adult Basic Education, 15(3), 131-149.
Kassab, C., Askov, E.N., Weirauch, D., Grinder, E., & Van Horn, B. (2004). Adult participation related to outcomes in family literacy programs. Family Literacy Forum, 3(1), 23-29.
- For a summary, please review the annotation for this article.
Stickel , T., Kaiper-Marquez, A., & Prins , E. (2020). Creative fatherhood behind bars: The read to Your Child Program. Revista Temas Em Educação, 29(2). https://doi.org/10.22478/ufpb.2359-7003.2020v29n2.53969
Prins, E., Stickel, T. & Kaiper, A. (2020). Supporting children’s literacy, learning, and education: Incarcerated fathers’ experiences in the Read to Your Child/Grandchild Program. Journal of Prison Education and Reentry, 6(2), 168-188. doi: 10.25771/n1x0-y832
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.
Prins, E. & Gungor, R. (2011). Family literacy funding reductions and work-first welfare policies: Adaptations and consequences in family literacy programs. Adult Basic Education and Literacy Journal, 5(1), 15-25.
For a summary of this article, please review Research Brief #5.
Prins, E.S. (2006). Similar, yet different: Case studies of three Even Start programs in Pennsylvania. Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy, The Pennsylvania State University.
Semali, L.M. (2004). Mapping Success: Family and child education (FACE) Program.
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.
- For a summary of this article, please review Research Brief #2.
- 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.
- For a summary of this article, please review Research Brief #4.
- Toso, B.W. (Ed.) (2013). 22nd National Conference on Family Literacy Research Strand Conference Proceedings. Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy, The Pennsylvania State University.
- Toso, B.W. (Ed.) (2012). 21st National Conference on Family Literacy Research Strand Conference Proceedings. Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy, The Pennsylvania State University.
- 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.
- For a summary of this article, please review Research Brief #3.
- 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.
- Family Literacy Report to the Community: Statewide Evaluation Report (2008-2009)
- This is a two-page report on the state of family literacy in Pennsylvania that provides evidence to support the need for family literacy.
- SEQUAL: Practitioner Action Research Projects (PAR) - Pennsylvania family literacy programs have been involved in PAR (a reflective process of problem solving) to enhance and improve their programs. Information and resources are available.
- 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.
- An annotated bibliography of pictures books in children's literature is a 2009 update by the Goodling Institute for use with the class and take-home activities in Andrea DeBruin-Parecki's Let's Read Together: Improving Outcomes with the Adult-Child Interactive Reading Inventory (ACIRI).
- 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.