Leah Katherine Saal, Ph.D.

 Leah Saal 

Assistant 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 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. She is also the co-editor of Literacy & Social Responsibility eJournal, a journal of the International Literacy Association.Honors and Awards

Honors and Awards

American Educational Research Association, Early Career Scholar Award, Adult Literacy and Adult Education SIG, (2018)
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)

Selected Publications

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. (2018). Exploring the impact of service-learning on literacy teacher’s self-reported empathy. In Meidl, T.D. & Sulentic Dowell, M. M. (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Service-Learning Initiatives in Teacher Education Programs. (pp. 393-407). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

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. (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., & 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. (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. (2017, December) Expanding opportunities: Assessing the development of employment literacies. Paper session at the 2017 Literacy Research Association Conference, Tampa, Florida.

Saal, L. K., Sulentic Dowell, M. M., & Meidl, T. D. (2017, September). A twice-told tale of access and ethics: Going deeper with provocative issues in K-12 service-learning. Paper session at 2017 International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement, Galway, Ireland.

*Smith, A. & Saal, L. K. (2017, July). Promoting equitable outcomes for all learners: Using equity audits to analyze the “achievement gap.” Paper session at the 2017 International Literacy Association Conference, Orlando, Florida.

*Custer, M. & Saal, L. K. (2017, July). Analyzing metacognition skills in elementary word problem solving. Paper session at the 2017 International Literacy Association Conference, Orlando, Florida.

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

*Graduate Student

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)

Selected Grants and Funded Projects

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].