Donna Alvermann is a researcher and teacher educator whose work focuses on adolescents’ digital and media literacies and youth-initiated engagement with texts in and out of school. She is University Appointed Distinguished Research Professor of Language and Literacy Education in the College of Education at the University of Georgia.[1] She serves on the Adolescent Literacy Advisory Group of the Alliance for Excellent Education.[2] Alvermann is a researcher and teacher educator as she has published over 100 articles. She was elected to the board of the National Reading Conference and is the co-chair of the International Reading Association’s (IRA) Commission on Adolescent Literacy. She is an editor for Reading Research Quarterly, an IRA journal. Her research in the area of reading has been beneficial for educators working with struggling and adolescent readers and is regarded as a voice that speaks for these readers. She has encouraged teachers to rethink critical literacy and incorporate new technology and social practices in their instruction of Language Arts.



Alvermann received her Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Texas at Austin in 1965. She began her teaching career in Texas after graduating. She continued her education, graduating with her Master of Arts in Education from the University of Texas at Austin in 1968. She continued to teach in Texas until her move to New York. While in New York at Syracuse University, she completed both her MLS in Information Studies and her PhD in Reading and Language Arts Education in 1980.


After her 12 years of experience as a classroom teacher in Texas and New York, Alvermann became an Assistant Principal in 1975 at Elmira City Schools in New York. Her first higher education appointment came in 1980 at University of Northern Iowa. In 1982, she joined the faculty of the College of Education at the University of Georgia, where she advanced through the ranks to Full Professor in 1990 and Distinguished Research Professor in 2001. She has been a Visiting Scholar at both the Institute for Research on Teaching at Michigan State University(1982) and Louisiana State University (1987), and a Lansdowne Lecturer at the University of Victoria, Canada (2001). She has done numerous consultations, some of which include the following: Carnegie Corporation of New York; RAND Corporation; American Institutes for Research; RMC Research Corporation; Education Development Center/ Center for Children and Technology; Boys and Girls Club of America; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation/Jobs for the Future; Spencer Foundation; WNET Channel Thirteen, New York City; WGBH Boston Public TV; and WETA, the flagship PBS station in Washington, DC. Alvermann has authored over 100 articles, 15 books, and 70 chapters related to adolescent literacy. She has been principal or co-principal investigator of 22 grants, including the National Reading Research Center that she co-directed from 1992-1997 at the University of Georgia.[3] Alvermann has been affiliated with the Institute for Behavioral Research at the University of Georgia since 1991, most recently as a Fellow in the Community, Ethnicity and Identity in Context Group.[4]

National Reading Research CenterEdit

Alvermann co-directed the National Reading Research Center at the University of Georgia from 1992-1997. This center conducted studies and released publications in the areas of reading, writing, science and history learning assessment, and professional development.[5]

Awards and honorsEdit

Past president of the National Reading Conference (NRC), Alvermann was editor of Reading Research Quarterly from 2003-2007 (volumes 38-42). In 1999, she was elected to the Reading Hall of Fame. Alvermann is the recipient of numerous awards including the National Reaching Conference's Oscar Causey Award for Outstanding Contributions to Reading Research and the Kingston Award for Distinguished Service; College Reading Association's Laureate Award and the Herr Award for Contributions to Research in Reading Education, and the American Reading Forum's Townsend Service Award. Alvermann holds the Honorary Doctorate of Pedagogy at Long Island University (2005).[3] In 2006, she was awarded the International Reading Association's William S. Gray Citation of Merit.[6]

Major research contributionsEdit

Alvermann has added to the field of reading with her work in adolescent reading, struggling readers, and a shift to the topics of new literacies to include the practice of using technology and reading.

In her work on adolescent reading, Alvermann has studied the literacy practices of adolescents who embed their reading within their technology and social practices. She has also recognized the benefit of gaming in literacy as other researchers like James Paul Gee have done. She examined the role of gaming and popular media as well as their connections to affinity groups. In one of her publications she addresses recommendations to foster critical awareness and reading competency through playing. She urges teachers to rethink the way they address strategies for struggling readers to include various modalities of reading including technology.

Alvermann has also studied critical literacy and the importance of connecting popular culture to language arts. Many reading studies[which?] have proven that students comprehend more when they have a connection to what they read.[citation needed] The use of popular culture is a natural connection for students as they interact socially with peers using popular culture as an avenue to belong to a certain social group. Alvermann urges teachers to utilize this avenue to enhance students’ reading achievement, and admonishes them to recognize the usefulness of popular culture. In her studies of popular culture she has included magazines, comics, television programs, video games, music, graffiti, e-mail, and Internet communication as genres of reading in popular culture. She also has examined a link between professional wrestling and literacy practices through dramatic play.


  • Alvermann, D. E. (2008). Commentary: Why bother theorizing adolescents' online literacies for classroom practice and research?[permanent dead link] Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52, 8-19.
  • Alvermann, D. E., Hinchman, K. A., Moore, D. W., Phelps, S. F., & Waff, D. R. (Eds.). (2006). Reconceptualizing the literacies in adolescents’ lives (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Alvermann, D. E., Hagood, M. C., & Williams, K. B. (2001, June) Image, language, and sound: Making meaning with popular culture texts. Reading Online.
  • Alvermann, D.E., Young, J.P., Green, C., & Wisenbaker, J. M. (1999). "Adolescents' perceptions and negotiations of literacy practices in after-school Read and Talk Clubs." American Educational Research Journal, 36, 221-264.
  • Alvermann, D. & Cammack, D. (2003). Adolescents and literacies in a digital world. Reading Online, 35-37.
  • Alvermann, D. & Heron, A.H. (2001). "Literacy identity work: Playing to learn with popular media." Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45 (2), 118-122.
  • Alvermann, D.E. & Xu, S.H. (2003). "Children’s everyday literacies: Intersections of popular culture and language arts instruction." Language Arts, 81(2), 145-154.
  • Alvermann, D.E., Hagood, M.C., Heron-Hruby, A., Hughes, P., Williams, K.B., & Yoon, J.C. (2007). "Telling themselves who they are: What one out-of-school time study revealed about underachieving readers." Reading Psychology, 28(1), 31-50.
  • Alvermann, D.E., Huddleston, A., & Hagood, M.C. (2004). "What could professional wrestling and school literacy practices possibly have in common?" Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 47(7), 532-540.


  1. ^ "Donna Alvermann". Archived from the original on 2010-06-14. Retrieved 2009-03-02.
  2. ^ "Donna Alvermann". Archived from the original on 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
  3. ^ a b Donna Alvermann's Vita
  4. ^ C E I, University of Georgia Archived February 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ T., Alvermann, Donna E.|Guthrie, John (1993-01-00). "Themes and Directions of the National Reading Research Center. Perspectives in Reading Research, No. 1". Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ IRA award to Donna Alvermann Archived October 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine