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LINCS Presentation

by Halle Smith -

Dr. Sabatini, John Hollander, and Halle Smith presented for the LINCS reading and writing community on June 24, 2021. Their presentation, titled “Digital Resources for Adult Literacy Learners and Programs: Reading, Comprehension, and Assessment Tools.” It overviewed federally-funded free digital resources being researched and developed by the Institute of Intelligent Systems at the University of Memphis with collaborators at institutions like GSU and ETS. The presentation introduced the web-based AutoTutor for Adult Reading Comprehension. It also introduced an adult learner assessment system that can be used for placement, diagnosis, progress monitoring, and outcome assessment. Finally, the presenters demonstrated how to access and participate with their website portal, a hub for these resources and further information.

ED Games Expo of 2021

by Halle Smith -

AutoTutor for Adult Reading Comprehension is participating in the ED Games Expo of 2021.

AutoTutor was initially developed by the Institute of Intelligent Services at the University of Memphis (IIS/UM) via grant support from CSAL at Georgia State University (GSU) ( and is now supported by a 2020 IES grant award, led by Drs. John Sabatini, Arthur Graesser, (IIS/UM) Daphne Greenberg (GSU), and Tenaha O’Reilly (ETS). This project is undergoing active research. 

This is a free, web-based tool that tutors adults to learn reading comprehension strategies. It uses two intelligent avatars to guide the learner through questions and to simulate learning through conversation. AutoTutor-ARC is compatible with most PC and laptop browsers with a stable internet connection. It includes thirty lessons covering (1) words and sentences, (2) computers and the internet, and (3) stories and texts. In a previous research phase, AutoTutor-ARC was piloted in tandem with classroom instruction; this intervention was successful in improving literacy skills in adults between 3rd and 8th grade reading level equivalency (Fang et al, 2018). 

Especially given the constraints of COVID-19, AT-ARC’s adaptability as a tool for both in-person and remote learning is invaluable. In this phase of the research project, AutoTutor-ARC will be evaluated as a stand-alone instructional program (in or outside the classroom). Additionally, the research team has developed modules to help adults acquire independent digital skills, in order to support their use of AT-ARC outside the classroom. With this in mind, AT-ARC’s design aims for simplicity for both teachers and learners. 

Currently, you can try AutoTutor's lessons without registration at this link. You can also register as a teacher for free at

Please feel free to email if you have any questions!

Fang, Y., Shubeck, K.T., Lippert, A., Cheng,Q., Shi, G., Feng, S., Gatewood, J., Chen, S., Cai, Z., Pavlik, P. I., Frijters, J.C., Greenberg, D., Graesser, A. C. (2018). Clustering the Learning Patterns of Adults with Low Literacy Interacting with an Intelligent Tutoring System. In K.E. Boyer & M. Yudelson ( Eds.), Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Educational Data Mining (pp.348-354). Buffalo, NY: Educational Data Mining Society.

Identifying, assessing, and instructing adult learners of Educational Functional Levels (EFL) 4.

by Halle Smith -

High intermediate learners (Educational Functional Levels (EFL) 4) should be exposed to a variety of comprehension strategies/study skills that are focused on building mental models of text, complex reasoning, and perspective-taking.  These skills need to be (1) deployed in digital, disciplinary, and multisource/multi-modal reading contexts, (2) driven by a purpose and goal for reading, and (3) mediated by prior knowledge and interest.  However, when confronted with comprehension tasks, even Level 4 learners may have foundational reading skill gaps that are masked by the learners’ abilities to compensate with knowledge or inference ability.  Addressing these needs requires assessment to identify the specific learning gaps and knowledge of effective instructional practices and techniques. It also requires that educators have a sense of the different subpopulations of adults who most typically present with this level of reading ability.


On April 8, 2021, CaptiVoice hosted Dr. John Sabatini’s presentation titled “Identifying, assessing, and instructing adult learners of Educational Functional Levels (EFL) 4.” From this presentation, you can learn about identifying learners at EF level, how different subpopulations might present, as well as specific exercises, resources, and instructional tips for teaching adult learners at level three.

One resource you can access after this webinar is SARA, currently named the ETS Reading Diagnostic on CaptiVoice. SARA is a reading assessment featuring six subtests to follow your students’ fundamental reading skills and their progress over time.

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