A Pilot on How to Help Adult Struggling Readers

We are pleased to share Volume 1, Issue 1 of ProLiteracy’s new research journal, Adult Literacy Education: The International Journal of Literacy, Language, and Numeracy.

Adult Literacy Education is a peer-reviewed, online journal that will be available twice per year. The journal will publish research on adult basic and secondary education and transitions into the workplace and higher education. Research will reflect best practices in adult education to inform practitioners, researchers, policy makers, and funders.
The journal is FREE and available as one document or as separate articles for download. We encourage you to circulate the journal widely to share timely, relevant topics and practices in adult education research. 

Twice a month, we will highlight an excerpt from a research article published in the current issue of the journal. This week, we are featuring the article Linking Root Words and Derived Forms for Adult Struggling Readers: A Pilot Study, by Susan Gray.

The goal of this pilot study was to investigate the effects of morphological instruction on component literacy skills of adult struggling readers. Sixteen adults, most with decoding and encoding deficits, were randomly assigned to tutoring in either morpheme or syllable analysis to learn academic vocabulary and increase component literacy skills. Those taught semantic connections between Latin and Greek root words and their derived forms outperformed those taught syllable types on a standardized test of word recognition, though both groups demonstrated large gains for learning target words. Results support connectionist theories that promote teaching morphological links in literacy instruction.

Ninety million adults in the United Stated have low literacy skills according to the National Research Council (2012). Given the number of people directly affected, and the associated costs to public health and employment, there is a serious lack of rigorous research studying interventions for adult struggling readers (Greenberg, 2008; Kruidener, 2002; Tighe & Schatschneider, 2016). Adults seeking alternative high school credentials like the General Education Development (GED) diploma, and those in Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs have a wide range of reading skill deficits (Perin, Flugman & Spiegal, 2006; Greenberg, Ehri & Perin, 1997). Surprisingly, despite promising results of morphological instruction with both children and adults, there is little evidence that adult literacy studies are taking advantage of the potential of teaching morphemes, including prefixes, root words and suffixes (Alamprese, MacArthur, Price & Knight, 2011; Deacon, Parrila & Kirby, 2006; Fracasso, Bangs & Binder, 2015; Law, Wouters & Ghesquiere, 2015). Randomized pilot studies such as this one, are “those in which a future definitive clinical trial involving randomized study groups or its components are investigated on a miniature scale” (Kaur, Figueiredo, Bouchard, Moriello & Mayo1, 2017, p. 1243). This study tests the feasibility of providing instruction in morphemes to increase component literacy skills of adult struggling readers.

To read the full 13-page research article, click here.



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