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About Us

Welcome to the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy (ISAL)!  We are proudly a part of the College of Education at The Pennsylvania State University.


To advance the field of literacy through collaborative research, development, outreach, and leadership to improve practice, expanding access to high quality education and enriching the lives of individuals, families and children.

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 experience 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, we also have worked collaboratively with the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy, also in the College of Education.

Contact Us

Dr. Carol Clymer, Co-Director

Dr. Esther Prins, Co-Director