Education professor brings latest in literacy research to teachers through podcast 

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headshot of matt sroka
Dr. Matt Sroka

As a new secondary school English teacher, Dr. Matt Sroka wanted to improve his teaching. He asked others for advice but was frustrated with responses that weren’t backed by research. 

As he began to pursue his Doctor of Education, he started reading scholarly journals about literacy education, where he found practical ideas that he could use in the classroom. 

“When I started to discover that, it was eye-opening and validating that the things in my classroom were supported by the research,” he said. “It gave me a level of confidence that I’m not just doing what I think based on my feelings, but I’m doing what the research says is best.” 

Dr. Sroka, clinical assistant professor of literacy education in Mercer University’s College of Education, now is sharing the latest in literacy theory, research and practice with other educators and scholars through the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy Podcast.  

Each episode, he interviews the author of a recently published article in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy about the research and how it can be applied in the classroom. The podcast started in April and has published nine episodes so far. It’s available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and more. 

“I’m a big believer that these education journals are important. They’re important as I think about best practices around literacy. They’re important as I think about staying up to date on trends in education,” he said. “But I don’t think they’re often very accessible for practitioners. My goal with the podcast was to make an easier introduction into these articles.” 

Literacy is about more than knowing how to read. 

It’s “how we communicate to others and how we think about texts. And we use ‘text’ broadly to mean words and also images and videos,” Dr. Sroka said. “As we work with young adults, even into adults, it’s beyond comprehension and more learning how to think critically about what you’re reading and how to take that and apply it in a real way.” 

While this is his first professional podcast, as a hobby Dr. Sroka, who is from Maryland, has hosted with his brother a weekly podcast about the Baltimore Orioles for the past 10 years. 

He hopes listeners to the literacy education podcast will gain the confidence he felt after learning evidence-based strategies he could use in the classroom. 

“The whole goal is to provide an accessible and simple way to get into and to hear the latest research in the field of adult and young adult literacy,” he said. 

 

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Jennifer Falk is the director of digital communications at Mercer University and editor-in-chief of The Den. She creates and supervises the development of written and multimedia content for primary University web pages and e-newsletters, including The Den and This Week @ Mercer. In addition, she collaborates with schools and offices to maintain web content and examines data and analytics to drive content creation decisions. She also serves as a member of the University's social media committee.