Profile: Alisa Belzer


Alisa Belzer, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Learning and Teaching, and currently serves as the Program Coordinator for the Ed.M. in Adult and Continuing Education Program at the GSE. Focused largely on adult literacy education, her research includes study of  policy, professional development, and learner experience. Belzer’s interest in the field stem from her early experience working as an adult literacy practitioner, during which she was inspired to gain a greater understanding of adult literacy students, teaching, curriculum, and assessment, as a means to improve quality of instruction. Seeing research as the vehicle to get there, Belzer enrolled in graduate courses and began earning credits towards a doctoral degree. In 1998 she graduated with a Ph.D. in Writing, Reading, and Literacy from the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining the Rutgers GSE, she directed state-wide professional development and program evaluation efforts for the Pennsylvania Department of Education Bureau of Adult Basic and Literacy Education.

Since then, Belzer has established herself as a leading scholar in the field of adult literacy education, authoring various journal and book publications, reports, and reviews, and leading workshops, conferences, and presentations both nationally and abroad. Today, she continues to drive innovation and advance the knowledge base in the field of adult literacy education through her academic scholarship and professional service. This includes recently taking on the role of coeditor for Adult Literacy Education: The International Journal of Literacy, Language, and Numeracy, a new journal launched in 2018 with the goal of informing practitioners, researchers, policy makers, and funders about best practices in adult literacy, numeracy, and English language education. She is also currently serving as the program chair for the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) Adult Literacy & Adult Education Special Interest Group (ALAE SIG), and as a facilitator for the LINCS Professional Development Center’s collaborative learning group on instructional leadership.  In the future, Belzer plans to continue to develop and ultimately launch URead, a mobile app designed to increase access to learning opportunities for adult literacy students. The project is funded by a grant she was awarded from the Dollar General Foundation in 2016 after winning an education business planning competition for the design concept.


B.A. in Elementary Education, University of Pennsylvania (1985)

Ph.D. in Reading, Writing, & Literacy, University of Pennsylvania (1998)

Expertise & Research Interest

Adult Literacy Education

Adult Education

Professional Development

Practitioner Inquiry


Research Work With Students

Belzer, A., Axelrod, T., Benedict, C., Jakubik, T., Rosen, M., &Yavuz, O. (2016). The Problem of practice dissertation: Matching program goals, practices, and outcomes. In J. A. Perry (Ed.), The Ed.D. and the scholarly practitioner: The CPED path (pp. 153-174). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Petrin, N., Tartivita, P., & Belzer, A. (2016). Problem of practice dissertations as improvement efforts: Implementing research-based new teacher induction. In J. A. Perry (Ed.), The Ed.D. and the scholarly practitioner: The CPED path (pp. 197-216). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Belzer, A. & Pickard, A. (2015). From heroic victim to capable comrade: Views of adult literacy learners in the qualitative research literature. Adult Education Quarterly 65(3), 250-266.

Recent & Selected Publications

Belzer, A. & Kim, J. (2018). We are what we do: Adult Basic Education should be about more than employability. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 61(6), 603-608.

Belzer, A. (2017). Focusing or narrowing: Trade-offs in the development of adult basic education, 1991-2015. In A. Belzer (Ed.), Turning points: Recent trends in adult basic literacy, numeracy, and language education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Belzer, A. (Ed.). (2017). Turning points: Recent trends in adult basic literacy, numeracy, and language education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Belzer, A. (2017). Reflections on the PIAAC Literacy and Numeracy Frameworks and a system that is designed to achieve the results it gets. Adult Learning, 28(3), 118-120

Belzer, A. & Bruno, C. (2016). After the research: Win-win narratives of research in use. Teaching and Learning: The Journal of Natural Inquiry and Reflective Practice 29(1), 3-15.


Honors & Awards

Outstanding Faculty Service Award, Rutgers Graduate School of Education Alumni Association

Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition Idea Path Prize Winner, Milken Family Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania GSE

Professional Affiliations

American Association for Adult and Continuing Education

American Educational Research Association

Commission on Adult Basic Education

International Reading Association

New Jersey Association for Lifelong Learning



  • Phone: 
    (848) 932-0778
  • Office Address: 
    GSE Room 214
  • Program Affiliations: 

    Ed.M. in Adult and Continuing Education (Program Coordinator)

    Ed.D. Program