Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



After over 60 years of plain writing advocacy calling for government agencies to increase the clarity of official communication, the Plain Writing Act (PWA) of 2010 codified the incorporation of plain language in any federal government document for pubic use. However, no extensive evaluation of government food assistance applications has been completed by an independent evaluator since the PWA’s passage. The objective of this exploratory sequential mixed methods research is to examine selected federal government food assistance applications (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Application (SNAP) for Assistance and Free and Reduced Price School Meals Family Application). The study seeks to explore the experience of the application process for the participants as well as identify which factors of text complexity effect adults’ comprehension of and ability to adequately complete assistance application documents post Plain Writing Act. The study’s three phases examine the participants’ perceptions regarding the clarity/usability of federal government food assistance applications as well as their ability to comprehend and complete the materials. The study uses two divergent purposeful samples of self-identified outlier populations – six adult literacy learners and six adult residential doctoral candidates on selected national government food assistance applications. Data collection and analysis techniques are appropriate for each phase’s paradigm. Meta inferences are explored, and the knowledge is used to create recommendations for improved processes and increased efficiency. Most importantly, recommendations provided to practitioners and researchers seek to improve access to services for families pursuing assistance.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Secure the entire work for patent and/or proprietary purposes for a period of one year. Student has submitted appropriate documentation which states: During this period the copyright owner also agrees not to exercise her/his ownership rights, including public use in works, without prior authorization from LSU. At the end of the one year period, either we or LSU may request an automatic extension for one additional year. At the end of the one year secure period (or its extension, if such is requested), the work will be released for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Cheek, E. H.



Included in

Education Commons