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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 researchers 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.

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.

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

Evaluation of the William Penn Foundation’s Family Literacy Initiative


PI: Carol Clymer, Co-Director GI/ISAL
CO-PIs:  Elisabeth McLean, Assistant Teaching Professor (GI); Anna Kaiper-Marquez, Associate Director (GI/ISAL); Jungeun Lee, Assistant Teaching Professor (GI/ISAL); Esther Prins, Co-Director GI/ISAL, Professor Lifelong Learning and Adult Education Programs


About the Project:  This work funded by the William Penn Foundation (WPF) continues from the initial grant which was funded from 2018-2022 for $487,905. This two-year extension (2022-2024 for $376,311) will evaluate five organizations in Philadelphia who are implementing family literacy programming, that includes 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, home literacy logs, school records, and program artifacts The five organizations include: Beyond Literacy, Indochinese American Council, KenCrest, Supportive Older Women’s Network, and Nationalities Services Center.


The Pennsylvania Department of Education, Division of Adult Education (three grants)


PI: Carol Clymer, Co-Director, Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy (ISAL) and Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy (GI) Project Lead: Rob Getz, Director of Career and Family Pathways programs, ISAL and GI


About the Projects: The Institutes have received grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Division of Adult Education. A five-year project funded for $540,000 per year will fund the Career Pathways program to provide adult education and English as a second language classes and services to individuals 16 or older (and not in school) who want to earn a high school equivalency diploma; build their basic reading, writing, or math skills; or learn English. Free classes and services are available in Centre and Lycoming Counties. Another three-year project, funded for $116,600 per year, will provide family literacy services in Centre and Lycoming Counties to caregivers and their children through the Family Pathways program. The third grant—a two-year, $111,000 project per year, will fund the Tutoring Program for Adults to provide tutoring services to adult learners in the Career and Family Pathways programs in both counties. This grant will also provide peer tutoring services to female inmates at Muncy State Correctional Institution.


The Institute for Museum and Library Services


PI: Carol Clymer, Co-Director, ISAL/GI
Co-PIs: Elisabeth McLean, Assistant Teaching Professor GI; Esther Prins, Co-Director ISAL/GI, Professor, Lifelong Learning and Adult Education Programs; Heather Toomey-Zimmerman, Professor of Education-Learning, Design, and Technology Program


About the Project: This two year $249,499 project entitled Enriching Library Family Programming Using the Smithsonian Institution’s Talk with Me Toolkits includes a $154,616 subaward to the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy to partner with Family Place Libraries and the Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Educational Technology (OET), and the Public Library Association to adapt, evaluate, and disseminate the Smithsonian OET’s free, online Talk with Me Toolkits (TMTs) for use in libraries’ family literacy and engagement efforts. The project will ensure libraries are successfully using the TMTs to help diverse families access and use digital resources and help librarians learn how to build their own TMT collections for use in family programming. As a subrecipient, the Goodling Institute will lead the evaluation, develop the data collection instruments, analyze the data, participate in advisory committee meetings, and help carry out project dissemination activities.


The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections


PI: Sarah Meyer Chilenski, Senior Research Associate, Prevention Research Center
Co-PIs: Carol Clymer, Co-Director ISAL/GI; Anna Kaiper Marquez, Associate Director ISAL/GI; Elisabeth McLean, Assistant Teaching Professor GI; Esther Prins, Co-Director ISAL/GI, Professor, Lifelong Learning and Adult Education Programs,


About the Project: The $138,379, 17-month project entitled “Addressing the Needs of Incarcerated Parents and Their Minor Children: Evaluation benefits and process of supplemental virtual reality programming” consists of an evaluation team with the PSU Edna Bennett Prevention Research Center and the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy. Our team will provide a process evaluation on the implementation and integration of virtual reality (VR) to the InsideOut Dad® program for incarcerated fathers and the Parenting Inside Out® program for incarcerated mothers in four Pennsylvania State Correctional Institutions (SCIs) and the use of a VR “adventure experience” during in-person or video/Zoom-based visits with their children. Using a mixed-methods design, the evaluation will explore: 1) Participants’ perceptions of the effects of the curriculum, use of VR role plays, and the VR adventure experiences on their interactions and visits with their children and perceptions of their parenting skills; 2) What worked well for participants; and 3) Suggestions for potential changes or improvements to the programs’ implementation.  


Research Brief #10

Research Brief #9

Collaborative Research Brief

  • Family Service Learning Brief by Cramer & Toso (2015). This brief is collaborative effort between Goodling Institute and the National Center for Families Learning

Research Brief #8

Research Brief #7

Research Brief #6

Research Brief #5

Research Brief #4

Research Brief #3

Research Brief #2

Research Brief #1

  • Lynch, J., & Prins, E. (2021). 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.

*Contact the author(s) for additional information.