Online Graduate Courses in Early Grade Reading

The International Education concentration at UMass Amherst is offering two 12-week online graduate courses in Spring 2017: How Children Learn to Read and The Role of Community and Family for Supporting Early Grade Reading.


These are university, for-credit courses accessible to practitioners and policy makers around the world. The courses run from January 23, 2017 – April 14, 2017 and are fully online and asynchronous; you do not need to login at any specific time to participate.  .


The courses are part of a series of five courses leading to a graduate certificate in early grade reading. Participants in previous semesters have come from all over the world: Malawi, Indonesia, Senegal, Nepal, Nicaragua, Kenya, and Bhutan. Participants have included staff of USAID, EDC, AIR, Banyan Tree, World Learning, UNESCO, and other international organizations. 


1) How Children Learn to Read (Course Cancelled for Spring 2017)


This course is intended to help early grade reading project personnel understand the basics of early grade reading and apply key concepts to their own context. The goal is to help participants to:


  • Understand how children acquire and improve reading skills
  • Consider the factors that support learning
  • Articulate the rationale for investing in early grade reading (EGR)
  • Consider the importance of language of instruction in learning how to read
  • Find, read and analyze EGR initiatives that have happened in their country or region
  • Engage with practitioners from around the world who are or will be involved in EGR
  • Understand assessments of EGR, including the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA)
  • Articulate the ways in which learning to read can be complemented by learning to write
  • Design a country profile for early grade reading.


The instructor for this course is Dr Rebecca Stone, adjunct professor in International Education. Dr Stone has worked on early grade reading projects for over 10 years, and she specializes in mother tongue-based multilingual education.



2) Role of Community and Family for Supporting Early Grade Reading


The purpose of this course is to help participants learn how communities and families can support children in learning to read. By the end of this course, participants will be able to:


  • Explain the roles that community and family can play in supporting early grade reading in and out of school
  • Identify stakeholders, such as parents, school management committees, local leaders, and community members who can support early grade reading
  • Explain models of community and school relationship building
  • Identify the factors that can influence community or family’s involvement in supporting early grade reading
  • Articulate how to assess and influence family and community members’ beliefs about reading acquisition
  • Describe how to employ a social marketing approach to change people’s attitudes and behaviors about reading development
  • Articulate ways to help the school and community coordinate efforts of multiple donors
  • Create and present an analysis for applying knowledge about the role of community and family to your own context and work.


The instructor for this course is Dr Cristine Smith, Associate Professor in International Education at the UMass Amherst’s College of Education. She specializes in literacy education, early grade reading, and teacher professional development. She has 30 years of experience in international literacy research and implementation projects, primarily in South Asia.  


For more information about how to register and course fees click here.