Division of Adult Studies (DAS)

Director: Daryl Mellard

Mission: To foster opportunities for people with disabilities or disadvantages, the Division of Adult Studies (DAS) conducts rigorous research and evaluation that promote improved policies and practices. 

Part of KUCRL since 1993

DAS is committed to enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities or who experience societal and ecological barriers. This commitment is achieved through efficacy-based, trans-disciplinary, consumer-focused methods that result in improved practice and experiences for numerous stakeholders. In support of the Center mission, DAS projects directly address and aspire to solve problems that hinder the ability to learn and perform in school, work, home, or the community. DAS’s commitment is operationalized in terms of the following activities: research, product development, staff development, dissemination, and evaluation. Stakeholders include individuals with disabilities and family members, service providers, staff development personnel, policy developers, and policy analysts. 


  • How can we better understand, control, and predict constructs that can make a significant impact on learning among adolescents and adults who struggle to learn or are at risk of academic failure?
  • How can we translate these findings into policies and practices that fit the unique contextual features (e.g., open enrollment schedules, voluntary participation, stopping in/out of program) of basic and semi-skilled instruction for adolescents and adults (e.g., adult literacy programs, Job Corps vocational programs)?
  • How can we provide professional development and ongoing support that produces fidelity of implementation among instructors working with adolescent and adult struggling learner populations?


  • Kansas’ Adult Education, recognized nationally as a top program, adopted our interventions and support materials for recruiting, retaining, and instructing adult learners; our procedures for accommodating adults with disabilities in their adult education programs; and our professional development materials, which are mandatory for individual program’s state certification.
  • Our adult literacy research has provided in-depth descriptions of adult basic and secondary learner characteristics on reading; has distinguished the literacy characteristics of adolescents and adults from child-based models; and has been foundational in our development of interventions. We found that efficacious interventions for K-12 general and special education settings may not be effective in the adult education settings due to attendance and other structural features that reduce the intensity of the instructional practices. As a result of this body of work, Dr. Mellard was appointed to a National Academies of Sciences panel, which produced Improving Adult Literacy Instruction, a product of the National Research Council.
  • We have received consistent feedback from state and local education agencies around the country underscoring how beneficial our work has been in their successfully implementing RTI. We examined contextual features important to developing, implementing, and sustaining the many complexities of RTI in elementary and secondary schools, and we described alternative approaches to implementing the essential components of RTI. 


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