Leah Katherine Saal, Ph.D.

 Leah Saal 

Associate Professor of Literacy 
Literacy Education Program
Beatty Hall 121-5

“For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.”

Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed


Louisiana State University
Ph.D., 2013, Curriculum and Instruction: Literacy
M.A., 2013, Educational Leadership, Research, & Counseling: Applied Educational Research Methodology & Evaluation
Ed.S., 2010, Curriculum and Instruction: Literacy and Special Education
M.S., 2007, Human Resource Education: Adult Education
B.A., 2005, Major: English, Minor: Political Science


Dr. Leah Katherine Saal is an associate professor of literacy at Loyola University Maryland, School of Education. She teaches graduate courses in literacy education and educational research and values service-learning as an authentic pathway to prepare students to become inquiring and reflective pedagogues in urban environs. Saal is informed by her ongoing experiences teaching with and learning from families, adults, and communities in and out of school settings in urban areas.

Research Interests

Saal’s engaged scholarly agenda focuses on the intersectionality of literacy and social justice. Her research includes two dovetailing strands: 1) the literacies of adults and older students in and out of educational programs and 2) the preparation and support of literacy leaders to work for social justice. In addition to her own scholarship, Leah Katherine serves on the Loyola Engaged Scholarship Committee and Clinical Centers Research Committee, as well as several international and national editorial review boards for adult and adolescent literacy/learning journals.

Honors and Awards

Early Career Engaged Scholar Award, Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic, 2019.
2019 National Finalist for Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty, Swearer Center (Brown University) & Campus Connect.
American Educational Research Association, Early Career Scholar Award, Adult Literacy and Adult Education SIG, (2018)
Loyola University Maryland Digital Pedagogy Fellowship, (2015)
Comparative International Education Society, Latin America SIG Highlighted Research, (2013)
Literacy Research Association, J. Michael Parker Award for Adult Literacy Research (2012)

Selected Publications

Saal, L.K., & Gomez, M. (2020). A lens on adults' literacies: Using Photovoice al multimodal curriculum. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 63(4), 467-471.

Saal, L.K., Sulentic Dowell, M. M., & Meidl, T. D. (2019) Ethics of access: Provocative impacts of K-12 service-learning and community engagement policy. International Journal of Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement, 7(1), 1-9.

Saal, L.K., Yamashita, T., Shaw, D. J., & Perry, K. (2019). An exploration of U.S. adults' information processing skills and political efficacy. Journal of Adult and Continuing Education. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/1477971419852750

Saal, L. K., Gholson, M., Machtmes, R., & Machtmes, K. (2018). Associations between adults’ numeracy skills and employment status: An analysis of PIAAC’s U.S. dataset. Washington, DC: National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), American Institutes of Research (AIR).

Saal, L. K. & **Minson, C. W. (2017). Working to learn together: Engaged scholarship addressing long-term unemployment. Adult Learning, 28(4), 167-170.

Saal, L. K. (2016). Equity in assistance?: Usability of a U.S. government food assistance application. Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice, 65(1), 283-299.

Saal, L. K., & Sulentic Dowell, M. M. (2014). A literacy lesson from an adult “burgeoning” reader. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 58(2), 135-145.

** Community Partner

Recent Presentations

Saal, L. K., Lee, V. J., Levine, B., & *Reinsburrow, A. (2020, June). Civic education for adults: Learning from the “highest performing” countries. Paper presentation at 2020 Coalition on Adult Basic Education, Baltimore, Maryland. 

Schoenbrodt, L., & Saal, L. K. (2020, June). Learning to LEAD: Training law enforcement to interact with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Workshop at 2020 AJCU Justice in Jesuit Higher Education Conference, Georgetown University, Washington D.C. (Postponed due to COVID-19)

Saal, L. K.
(2019, December). Photovoice as multimodal authoring with adult burgeoning print learners. Paper presentation at the at 2019 Literacy Research Association Conference, Tampa, Florida.

Smith, W. & Saal, L. K. (2019, October). Moving forward with an innovative literacy practicum Paper session at the 2019 International Literacy Association Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana

Saal, L. K.,
**Heggins, N., **Carter, B. S., & *Oppenheim, K. (2019, April). Identifying potential: Creating informal college and career readiness standards aligned Curriculum Based Measures (CBMs). Paper presentation at 2019 Coalition on Adult Basic Education, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Saal, L. K.
(2019, April). A lens on adults’ literacies: Using photovoice as multimodal curriculum and method for community change. Paper presentation at the at 103rd Annual Conference of American Educational Research Association, Toronto, Canada.

*Blackwell, C. & Saal, L.K. (2018, December). A fresh lens: Photo tapestries of African American adolescent males. Paper presentation at 2018 Literacy Research Association Conference, Indian Wells, CA.

Saal, L. K. (2018, April) Possibility or necessity?: U.S. adults’ numeracy skills and employment. Paper session at the at 102st Annual Conference of American Educational Research Association, New York, New York.

Saal, L. K., Gholson, M., & Alharbi, F. A. (2018, April) A dream deferred?: Equity, employment, & adults’ literacy skills. Paper session at the at 102st Annual Conference of American Educational Research Association, New York, New York.

Saal, L. K. (2015-present). Coordinator, Adult, Family, and Community Literacy Research Study Group, Literacy Research Association Conference.

*Graduate Student
**Community Partner

Professional Organizations/Affiliations

American Educational Research Association (AERA)
Literacy Research Association (LRA)
International Literacy Association (ILA)
American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE)
Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE)

Selected Grants and Funded Projects

Horizon Foundation Changemaker Challenge, Project STEER: Strategic training for empathic emergency response. (Co-Principal Investigator) Submitted October 2019/Awarded November 2019 [$10,000.00].

Maryland Department of Disabilities/Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council/Ethan Saylor Alliance Grant. LEADing forward: Training self-advocate educators for first responders. (Co-Principal Investigator) Submitted July 2019/Awarded October 2019 [$99,912.00].

Maryland Department of Disabilities/Ethan Saylor Alliance Grant. Learning to LEAD: Training Self-Advocate Educators for Law Enforcement. Submitted December 2017/Awarded February 2018. (Co-Principal Investigator) [$45,000.00].

National Center for Educational Statistics, American Institutes of Research (AIR), PIAAC Research Funding, Associations between adults’ numeracy skills and employment status: An analysis of PIAAC’s U.S. dataset. (Principal Investigator) Submitted August 2016/Awarded December, 2016 [$10,000.00]