Developing and Implementing a Technology-Based Reading Comprehension Instruction System for Adult Literacy Students

Man using a laptopLed by the University of Memphis, the AutoTutor for Adult Reading Comprehension (AutoTutor-ARC) research team will adapt, enhance, and evaluate an interactive, intelligent tutoring system that supports adults who read at 3rd- to 8th-grade levels as they learn and practice reading comprehension strategies.

Partners in this work are Georgia State University and Educational Testing Service.


Roughly one in six adults in the U.S. has literacy skills at a low level of proficiency. Many seek instruction through adult education programs. However, these programs may be under-resourced, lack appropriate instructional materials, and have instructors with few professional development resources.

Project Description

The research team will enhance the usability, accessibility, and engagement of the AutoTutor-ARC system for adult literacy learners and instructors. In addition to interactive lessons mediated by computer agents (a teacher and peer student), the system will provide additional reading practice content and embedded instruction-based assessment to help guide and monitor learning progress. The system will also include digital literacy skill support for learners, as well as professional development support for teachers/tutors.

Project Activities

The researchers will iteratively develop and refine AutoTutor-ARC, test usability and feasibility, and run a pilot study of the fully developed intervention.


This research team will develop AutoTutor-ARC and supporting materials. It will also produce peer-reviewed publications, presentations, and additional products (e.g., research briefs) for adult education stakeholders, such as practitioners and policymakers.

For More Information

Please visit the Developing and Implementing a Technology-Based Reading Comprehension Instruction System for Adult Literacy Students project page on the IES website for a detailed project description. For more information about the project, please contact the Principal Investigator John Sabatini or visit the Adult Education Research Group website. 

This project is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education through Award #R305A200413.

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