Leah Saal, Ph.D.

Leah SaalAssistant Professor of Literacy Education 
Co-Director, 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 Assistant Professor of Literacy at Loyola University Maryland, School of Education. She is currently teaching graduate courses in literacy education and educational research, and she 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 literacy to adults and older students in and out of school settings in urban communities.

Research Interests

Saal’s research agenda focuses on the intersectionality of literacy and social justice within community literacies and includes: 1) assessment of text complexity, comprehension, and metacognition using authentic texts, 2) New Literacies’ socio-cultural and political implications, and 3) ethics and critical theory in literacy teaching and learning. 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. She is also the co-editor of Literacy & Social Responsibility eJournal, a journal of the International Literacy Association.

Honors and Awards

Loyola University Maryland Digital Pedagogy Fellowship, (2015)
Nominated for AERA’s Literacy as a Social Practice Emerging Scholar Award, (2014)
Comparative International Education Society, Latin America SIG Highlighted Research, (2013)
Literacy Research Association, J. Michael Parker Award for Adult Literacy Research (2012)

Recent Publications

Saal. L. K. (2015). Give me a real world example: Teaching adults critical comprehension using authentic complex texts. In J. K. Holtz, S. B. Springer, and C. J. Boden-McGill (Eds.), Building sustainable futures for adult learners (pp. 233-252). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Saal, L. K. (2015). Official Language. In S. Thompson (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Diversity and Social Justice (pp. 547-548). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Saal, L. K., & Lindbom-Cho, D. R (2015). Access to Education. In S. Thompson (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Diversity and Social Justice (pp. 19-20). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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.

Beckers, G. G., Saal, L. K., & Cheek, E. H. (2014) Interrupting and transforming mental  models for social responsibility: Effects of an Emancipatory Interest curriculum for secondary disciplinary teachers. In P. J. Cunston et al. (Eds), 63rd Yearbook of the Literacy Research Association (pp. 326-339). Altamonte Springs, FL: Literacy Research Association.

Sulentic Dowell, M. M., & Saal, L. K. (2014). Homegrown heroes and local folks: Transdisciplinary teaching opportunities. In K. Cushner and J. Dowdy (Eds.), Reading between the lines: Activities for developing social awareness through literacy (pp. 87-91). Lenham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Recent Presentations

Saal, L. K. (2015, December) Equity in assistance? Paper session at 2015 Literacy Research Association Conference, Carlsbad, California.

Saal, L. K. (2015, December). Adult Literacy Study Group: Literacy for Equity and Imagination in Education, Workplaces, Families, and Communities. Study Group at 2015 Literacy Research Association Conference, Carlsbad, California.

Meidl, T. D., Sulentic Dowell, M. M., Barrera I.V., E. S., & Saal, L. K. (2015, October). Considerate Phonics: Reevaluating the phonics we use and the phonics we teach. Paper session at 2015 National Association for Multicultural Education Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Fusco, E., Barrera, E. S., Saal, L. K.  (2015, July). Critical academic vocabulary for balanced reading instruction. Panel presentation at 2015 International Literacy Association Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

Saal, L. K., Watson, C., & Doud, S. (2015, May). Initial student assessment: The first rung in the ladder of learning. Presentation at 2015 Maryland Association for Adult, Community, and Continuing Education Conference, Timonium, MD.

Saal, L. K. (2015, April). Toward justice: Language barriers and language resources in applications for United States food assistance programs. Roundtable paper presentation at 2015 American Educational Research Association, Chicago, Illinois.

Saal, L. K. (2014, December).  The revolution will be televised: The dialogic construction of Macroliteracy as space for political change. Paper presentation at 2014 Literacy Research Association Conference, Marco Island, Florida.

Saal, L. K. (2014, November). Assessing the clarity of US government food assistance applications post Plain Writing Act. Paper presentation at 13th Annual International Clarity Conference, Antwerp, Belgium.

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)
American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies (AAACS)