Our initiatives focus on the contexts of career pathways and workplace, families, and health.

Areas of Focus

Believing that literacy skills are best developed within meaningful contexts, the Institute's initiatives have focused on the contexts of family, workplace, and health. ISAL's work includes the following:

~ Research in adult literacy and education
~ Coalition building
~ Family literacy
~ Instructional technology
~ Workforce preparation
~ Health literacy
~ Career Pathways


Our experienced staff assists providers with:

~  Program design and delivery
~  Customized instructional materials
~  Professional development (including distance learning)
Customized assessment development
Program evaluations

Penn State's College of Education established the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy in 1985 as a vehicle for using the resources of a major land grant institution to address issues related to adult literacy. The Institute is internationally recognized for its work in literacy, research, development, and dissemination activities. Our work has continued to focus on adults; however, it has expanded to include children with a family literacy context and adolescents facing literacy challenges.

Since 2001, ISAL has worked collaboratively with the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy, also in the College of Education.  The Goodling Institute provides national leadership that promotes the value of Family Literacy and supports program improvement through research and its application to practice and professional development.


  • Carol Clymer, Co-Director of ISAL and Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy, Associate Teaching Professor
  • Esther Prins, Co-Director of ISAL and Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy, Professor of Lifelong Learning and Adult Education
  • Jungeun Lee, Assistant Teaching Professor
  • Elisabeth McLean, Assistant Teaching Professor
  • Chrissie Klinger, Workforce Development Director