Word Study for Adult Learners - Reading and Writing Skills


The purpose of this discussion is to dialogue how an
intervention, Word Study (Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton & Johnston, 2008),
works in adult education settings. Word study is a practical approach
founded on orthographic research and requires learners to examine,
discriminate and make judgments about word structures, spellings and


General Questions to consider:

  • What is Word Study? What is the history behind the intervention?
    How does Word Study work with adults when Word Study research has been
    conducted mainly with children?
  • To what extent should adult educators work on word knowledge with
    adult learners when the purpose of reading should focus on comprehension?
    And writing should focus on communication?
  • What information is available to guide adult educators in their
    teaching of word knowledge?

Research Questions to consider:

  • What does Word Study look like in an adult education setting? (ABE,
    GED, ESL)
  • What impact does Word Study have on adult students' reading and
  • What do adults say during and after they engage in Word Study?

Preparation Reading:

To obtain a bit of background regarding word study, this website presents information about the spelling program Words Their Way.


Donita Massengill Shaw, Ph.D., is an associate professor of Literacy
Education at the University of Kansas. Her instructional load includes
courses such as literacy methods for preservice elementary teachers, content
area reading for secondary teachers, and graduate level courses on
foundations of literacy, writing/spelling, comprehension, and the reading
specialist leadership class. Donita's research interests include Word Study
with adult learners and teacher education. She is passionate about finding
efficient and proficient ways to enable adult learners to successfully meet
their educational goals.

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