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What does the Goodling Institute do?

The Goodling Institute challenges family literacy researchers to look beyond the individual disciplines of early childhood education, elementary education, adult education, and parent education and engagement. Research must focus on how each discipline works together in family literacy settings. Based on the Goodling Institute's National Family Literacy Research Agenda, researchers and practitioners are encouraged to study the issues detailed in the agenda. Study findings, such as those found in our research briefs can help policymakers make sound decisions about these programs, and can help practitioners to develop professionally and apply research to improve practice at the local level.

Three overarching goals for the Goodling Institute:

  • GOAL 1: Research
    To develop a sound conceptual, interdisciplinary research base for guiding practice and policy.
  • GOAL 2: Professional Development
    To build, in cooperation with the National Center for Family Literacy, the capacity of the field to provide high quality, research-based instruction and program development in family literacy.
  • GOAL 3: Policy
    To provide leadership in family literacy through communication and collaborative action with professional organizations, state departments of education, policy makers and the general public.

More About the Goodling Institute


Carol Clymer photo

Dr. Carol Clymer

Co-Director, Goodling Institute
Co-Director, Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy
Email: [email protected]; Phone: 814-865-5876
Bachelor of Arts, Spanish, Cedar Crest College (1973)
Master of Arts in Teaching, Secondary Education, New Mexico State University (1975)
Ed.D., Curriculum and Instruction, New Mexico State University (1978)

Carol has extensive experience developing and evaluating programs to improve the education and employment prospects of low-income and/or low skilled individuals. She recently worked as a consultant on the Urban and Aspen Institute’s evaluation team for the Accelerating Opportunities Initiative. Prior to this work, Carol was a senior program director at Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) where she oversaw a number of projects aimed at enabling youth and young adults to access employment and education. For P/PV, Carol also designed and delivered capacity building strategies, including tools and curriculum for practitioners. Carol was also the Director of Literacy and Workforce Development at El Paso Community College, in Texas. In this capacity, she wrote and administered federal, state and local grants to support adult education, workplace and family literacy, and career development for low-skilled and low-income adults – including those with limited literacy in their native language of Spanish.

Esther Prins Head Shot
Dr. Esther S. Prins

Professor of Adult Education
Co-Director for Research, Goodling Institute
Co-Director, Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy
Email: [email protected]; Phone: 814-865-059
Bachelor of Arts, Sociology, Summa Cum Laude, Wheaton College (1994)
Master of Science, Adult Education, Cornell University (1999)
Ph.D., Adult Education, Cornell University (2003)

Esther provides leadership and research in adult and family literacy. Drawing on critical and sociocultural approaches to education, her research examines the ways in which social class, culture, race/ethnicity, and gender shape how learners participate in, and benefit from, adult education and family literacy. Her other research interests include health literacy, digital literacy, and participatory approaches to education, community development, and research. Esther previously coordinated an adult education program and taught ESL classes to Latino/a immigrants in Chicago. She has conducted research and worked in rural and urban educational and community settings in the U.S., Belize, El Salvador, Ghana, Tanzania, and Ireland. She also teaches the following graduate courses: Family Literacy; Language, Literacy, Identity, and Culture in Global Contexts; Politics, Language and Pedagogy: Applying Paulo Freire Today; and Historical and Social Issues in Adult Education.

Honors include the Outstanding Researcher Award (Penn State College of Education, 2011), Imogene Okes Award for Outstanding Research (American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, 2010, with Kai Schafft), Outstanding Paper by an Early Career Scholar Award (Adult Literacy and Adult Education SIG, American Educational Research Association, 2007, with Kai Schafft), Professors for the Future Fellowship (UC-Davis, 2003-04), and Women's Studies Dissertation Fellowship (Cornell University, 2001).
Elisabeth McLean
Dr. Elisabeth L. Grinder McLean

Assistant Teaching Professor
Goodling Institute
Email: [email protected]; Phone: 717-432-3498
Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, Pomona College (1981)
Master of Science, Child Psychology, Penn State University (1989)
Ph.D., Curriculum and Instruction (Early Childhood Education), Penn State University (1994)

Elisabeth has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education from The Pennsylvania State University. She joined the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy and the Goodling Institute in 2002, but has been working with family literacy programs since 1997. Dr. McLean's work with family literacy programs included providing support in the areas of early childhood assessment and evaluations; conducting assessment trainings; development of training materials; development of family literacy standards; and development of self-assessment and monitoring tools for the early childhood, parenting education, and parent-child interactive literacy components of family literacy programs. Her current work involves research and evaluation of Family Literacy programs.


Dr. Jungeun LeeJungeun Lee

Assistant Teaching Professor
Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy
Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy
Email: [email protected]; Phone: 814-865-1049
Ph.D., Adult Education, University of Georgia, Athens

Jungeun Lee completed her Ph.D. in Adult Education at the University of Georgia, Athens, focusing on the worldwide diffusion of institutionalization of lifelong learning across countries. Before joining the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy in 2019, she served as a visiting research fellow at Seoul National University and taught undergraduate (methods in adult education) and graduate courses (research method in lifelong education). Prior to her doctoral studies, she worked at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning as an assistant program specialist. Her scholarly interests include adult literacy, adult education policy and practices, educational inequality from comparative perspectives, program evaluation, quantitative and mixed methodologies. Her current work involves research on low-skilled adults, participation in adult education and training using cross-sectional or longitudinal secondary data, and evaluation of Family Literacy programs.

Family Pathways Program Staff

Ruth Love-Schooley (Lycoming County)
Research Technologist
Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy
Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy
Email: [email protected]; Phone: (814) 863-3777

Emily Wolfe (Centre County)
Education Program Associate
Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy
Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy
Email: [email protected]; Phone: (814) 865-7939

Congressman Goodling Photo

Literacy begins at home. Parents as well as children should have the opportunity to develop their language and literacy skills. Family literacy programs do just that. And, now we can add the resources of the Goodling Institute to help develop more literate families through family literacy programs.  ~ Congressman William F. Goodling


 William F. Goodling served 26 years as York County’s Republican congressman where his work revolved around his lifelong interest in education. Prior to Congress, Mr. Goodling was a school teacher, counselor, coach, principal, superintendent of schools, and school board president. This background provided a strong foundation for his work in Congress.  Bill Goodling's concern for and commitment to education was well-known.  Mr. Goodling arrived in Congress in 1974 and in 1994 he became Chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee. In 1988, Even Start, a family literacy program Goodling championed, was signed into law by President Reagan. Goodling's love of literacy continued with the formation of the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy in the College of Education at Penn State.  The Institute was funded by a $6 million endowment from his Congress colleagues upon his retirement. He was chairman of the Board of Advisors of the Goodling Institute and he continued to provide insight into the topic of family literacy until he passed away September 17, 2017. 

Bill Goodling and a woman

The Goodling Institute is housed within The Pennsylvania State University's College of Education and works collaboratively with the College's Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy.  Operating funds for the Goodling Institute are available through an endowment established at Penn State through a $6 million federal appropriation.

The Goodling Institute
405 Keller Building
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: 814-865-5876

The Goodling Institute works collaboratively with the College's Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy (ISAL).

In addition to ISAL, the Goodling Institute also partners with other organizations to develop policy briefs and other policy resources, implement professional development, and conduct evaluations, including the Smithsonian Office of Educational Technology, Family Place Libraries, National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), National Coalition for Literacy, and the National Council of State Directors of Adult Education.