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Literacy App ‘Fulfilling A Need’ in Adult Education

A George Washington University doctoral student created an app to help adult learners improve their reading skills. Working in conjunction with literacy instructors in Washington, D.C., the app helps fill a need for students who fall through the cracks.

Jennifer Hill, who completed her Ph.D. in computer science in December, created an algorithm to help adult students work through material assigned through local literacy programs. She built CAPITAL—short for Comprehension and Pronunciation Instructional Tools for Adult Learners—as a learning aid to be used alongside in-class instruction. Dr. Hill worked with literacy instructors to design algorithms that automatically generate supporting materials to assist students.

The app fulfills an important need in the community, Dr. Hill said. Adult learners face an uphill climb in acquiring literacy late in life.

“Most of the students we’ve been working with, either old or young, have been living largely in poverty and with families they need to take care of. They need to get jobs really early, they need to help sick family members,” she said. “School becomes low priority, and then next thing you know you’re an adult out in the real world, and you never learned how to read.”

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