Study Circle Guide: Research-based Adult Reading Instruction


National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy, Harvard Graduate School of Education: Cambridge, MA
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages

This very comprehensive study circle guide provides all that one would need to conduct a study circle for teachers of adults to give them the background research on reading instruction as well as opportunities to reflect on their practice. The guide provides detailed descriptions of how to conduct study circles, including lesson plans for each of the three days, do's and don'ts, general facilitation tips, class readings, and homework readings. The guide is steeped in the most recent research for teaching adults reading skills based on work by Kruidenier, Purcell-Gates, Snow & Stucker, Rosalind Davidson, and others. It also uses work from NCSALL, National Institute for Literacy and Equipped for the Future. Some of the readings address special needs and ELL learners.

This one-stop guide contains many important current research findings, which will be included in the Basic Skills Collection on their own.

Required Training

The Guide provides ample instructions and materials to aid the facilitator.

What the experts say

This is an AMAZING resource, one that would be useful to any ABE administrator who is willing to engage his/her lower level adult literacy teachers in a study group. 

Useful features:

  • How to run study groups.
  • Definition of Key Terms and Acronyms
  • All materials needed (from announcements to newsprint examples, to readings, etc, etc).
  • Specific information for facilitators.

The question of how to accomplish quality professional development haunts the field of adult education. NCSALL's design of study circles represents a fine effort to get teachers to take charge of their own professional development. By providing the content and the process for study circles, NCSALL tried to encourage teachers to examine significant issues.

I don't know whether teachers actually use study circles or not, and I don't know how much direction they need for this. I do know that NCSALL developed an excellent study circle format and chose highly relevant content for teachers to consider.

This particular study circle is extremely well designed. The "pre-packet" information is terrific, the session outlines are stimulating and manageable. The subject matter is highly relevant and presented in an approachable way. Hopefully program managers and teachers will find and use it.


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