Brief Biography-Richard L. Venezky

Richard Venezky is Unidel Professor of Educational Studies and professor of Computer and Information Sciences and of Linguistics at the University of Delaware. During the period 1995-1998 he was the National Research Director for the U.S. Secretary of Education's Initiative on Reading and Writing; he is also Past President of the Reading Hall of Fame (1996-97), and director of computing for the Dictionary of Old English at the University of Toronto. From 1990 until 1995 he was co-director for Research and Development for the National Center on Adult Literacy. During the 1994-95 academic year he was the Benton Visiting Scholar in Education at the University of Chicago, and during the 1997-98 year he was a scholar in residence at the U.S. Department of Education. During the past year he has been on leave to the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, directing studies on the impact of information and computer technologies (ICT) on schooling and learning. He has also continued as a consultant to OERI. Prior to coming to the University of Delaware he was chair of computer sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Professor Venezky holds a B.E.E. degree and an MA degree in linguistics from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. in linguistics from Stanford University. He has authored books and journal articles on the design of computer-assisted instruction, English orthography, reading instruction, and the psychology of reading. In addition he has authored and co-authored a number of instructional programs for pre-reading, reading, spelling, and language arts, as well as multimedia materials for reading. In 1999 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Society for the Scientific Study of Education.

Research Interests

My research over the past five years has been concentrated in two broad areas: Literacy and Educational Technology. In the former I have focused on Adult Literacy, Orthography and Reading, and the History of Literacy, particularly in the U.S. In Technology I have been exploring computer-assisted instruction and the use of the World-Wide Web in education.

Adult Literacy

Over the past five years I have examined basic reading skill development in groups of ABE/GED students, including cohorts in White Plains, New York and Northern Delaware/Southern Pennsylvania. The goals of this work are (1) to examine models of reading skill development, and (2) to develop a knowledge base for improving both assessment and instruction in adult literacy. Funding for this work was from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement of the U.S. Department of Education, through the National Center on Adult Literacy (NCAL) at the University of Pennsylvania. During this same period I served as Co-director for research and Development for NCAL. A list of publications about this work can be found from my home page.

Orthography and Reading

I recently completed a major updating and revision of my book, The Structure of English Orthography, originally published by Mouto n in 1970. The new book, The American Way of Spelling, is available through Guilford Publications . In addition, I am examining the development and use of decoding patterns by low reading ability adults, drawing on data collected in the adult literacy studies described above. As an extension of the earlier work I did on English spelling-to-sound patterns, I have worked with a number of publishers and manufacturers in developing reading and spelling instruction for children, including SRA, Encyclopedia Britannica, Random House, Ginn, Silver Burdett & Ginn, Texas Instruments, and Odyssey Interactive Media, an educational development firm based in Israel. My longer-term goal in this area is to gain an understanding of the development of decoding ability and of its different roles in the acquisition of rapid word recognition ability.

A second set of projects on reading derived from my role during 1995-1998 as National Research Advisor for the U.S. Secretary of Education's Initiative on Reading and Writing. As a part of this major national effort to reach preschool to grade six children, parents, schools, and communities, I directed or participated in a number of projects, including the development of a nation-wide tutoring program, a summer reading program, benchmarks for teaching reading and writing, indicators for national reading abilities, and a program to improve the training of preschool personnel. Funding for these projects came from a number of sources, including the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Unidel Fund, and the U.S. Department of Education.

History of Literacy

While spending the 1994-95 academic year at the University of Chicago as the Benton Visiting Scholar in the Department of Education I began research for a book tentatively titled America's Literacy Agendas. In this book I plan to examine how literacy has been used for different agendas throughout the history of this country: missionaries, native Americans, government, immigrant groups, and others. Of special interest in this work is the role that text book publishers and schools played in the spread of literacy. My broader goal is to show how the spread of literacy in the U.S. resulted from a v ariety of agendas, some in conflict, and not from any single program, whether of control or of empowerment or improvement.

Educational Technology

Several years ago I published with Luis Osin a text on computer-assisted instruction, The Intelligent Design of Computer-Assisted Instruction. This text developed from courses that Osin and I taught on the subject. During the 1995-96 academic year I initiated a development project called the Alphabet Superhighway. With funding from the Technology Office of the U.S. Departmen t of Education, over a number of years we explored how the World-Wide Web can be used to promote information access and representation among school-age students. (A syllabus for my graduate level course that focuses on the educational potential of the World-Wide Web can be accessed from my home page.) This project was a component of the American Initiative on Reading and Writing.

Related to this work is a continuing interest in the application of technology to lexicography. Over the past 30 years I have developed computer processing systems for two major dictionary projects, the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) at the University of Wisconsin, and the Dictionary of Old English at the University of Toronto, in addition to serving in consulting roles to a number of other dictionaries, including The Oxford English Dictionary. I continue to serve as the computer director for the Dictionary of Old English.

More recently I have worked as a Senior Research Scientist with the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, directing studies on the impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) on schooling and learning. These studies are described on the web site that the Educational Technology Laboratory maintaines for the OECD ICT Programme .

Richard L. Venezky
Willard Hall Bldg. Room 211
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716
302.831.8126 (office)
302.831.6702 (fax) (email) (URL)