needed to be functionally literate. More needs to be known about the features of instruction and the intensity and duration required to maximize gains for adults who vary widely in their literacy skills.
Except for a few studies, research on component literacy skills has not been a priority and has not drawn on findings about effective literacy instruction with K-12 students. Although research with young children yields information about the targets of instruction and effective practices, the instruction may not always work as well for adults. Research is required to validate, identify the boundaries of, and extend this knowledge for the adult population. For example, it is clear that the adults who read at the eighth grade equivalent level and lower lack sufficient reading fluency to support optimal comprehension. That is, their word recognition processes are slow and divert cognitive capacity from making sense of the text. A substantial number of adult learners lack some word recognition (decoding) skills. Although research shows that direct decoding instruction is effective in developing word reading for most young students, the conflicting findings obtained thus far for adult learners suggest that the approaches used with children may not be as effective. They may not be sufficiently motivating or may not be implemented with the intensity or duration needed to be effective for some learners. Differences in cognitive function at different ages (e.g., size of any short-term phonological store, attentional capacity that might allow the use of strategies that are not possible with children) also may call for different phonemic awareness and word analysis strategies to accelerate progress. Longitudinal studies will be valuable for discovering how the processes of reading and writing might change with age and how instruction to develop reading and writing skills might need to differ at various points in the life span.
Consistent with K-12 research, it is likely that multiple approaches, if designed following principles of learning and instruction reviewed in this volume, may prove to be effective. Regardless of the approach, it can be assumed that the instruction should create a positive climate for adults that draws on their knowledge and life experiences, uses materials and learning activities that develop valued knowledge and skills, and supports adults as much as possible in regulating their own learning. It is also important to ensure that instructional activities to develop such skills as word recognition and decoding are provided when specific diagnostic evidence suggests that they are needed.
Research needs to identify the approaches that are effective for identified subgroups of adults, unless there is evidence that a particular approach works for all. At some level, it is obvious that instruction needs to be differentiated, just as in K-12 research, depending on the particular skills and other characteristics of learners and larger learning goals. Research is required to understand the constraints on generalizing findings across