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Alisa Belzer

Professor (Learning & Teaching) Program Director, Ed.M. Adult and Continuing Education
Learning & Teaching
GSE Room 214

Alisa Belzer, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Learning and Teaching, and currently serves as the Program Director 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 of improving the 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 also served as the program chair for the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) Adult Literacy & Adult Education Special Interest Group (ALAE SIG) from 2017-2020, 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.

• Ph.D. in Reading, Writing, & Literacy, University of Pennsylvania (1998)
• B.A. in Elementary Education, University of Pennsylvania (1985)
• American Association for Adult and Continuing Education
• American Educational Research Association
• Coalition on Adult Basic Education

  • 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

    Kim, J. & Belzer, A. (in press). Return on Investment (ROI) for Adult Basic Education (ABE): Existing Evidence and Future Directions.  Adult Education Quarterly.

    Belzer, A. & Kim, J.  (2020). The ethics and economics of Adult Basic Education Policy, 1963-2017. In T.S. Rocco, M.C. Smith, R.C. Mizzi, L.R. Merriweather, & J. D. Hawley (Eds.), 2020 Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education. Sterling, VA: Stylus

    Belzer, A. & Greenberg, D. (2020). The Gordian knot of adult basic education assessment:  Untangling the multiple audiences and purposes . In L. Hill (Ed.), Assessment, evaluation, and accountability in adult education. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

    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.

  • 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

  • Files
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