Blast from the Past: Since this entry was originally published research on disciplinary literacy has burgeoned. This update increases the bibliography greatly and this big increase in emphasis should encourage and support those who are trying to bring disciplinary literacy to adolescents around the world.
These days I hear a lot of reading authorities talking (and writing) about disciplinary literacy, but they really mean adolescent literacy or content area reading and writing. They don’t understand the distinction that is being made.
Disciplinary literacy refers to the specialized or somewhat unique texts or text features in those texts that are the province of a particular field of study and the specialized approaches to reading and writing texts used by experts in a field of study. Thus, historians, because they create, communicate, and evaluate a different kind of knowledge than scientists, use different kinds of text and have different ways of reading such text than scientists.
There are various ways that one can study the information in text to remember it for a test or something, and that probably doesn’t vary much across contents. But disciplinary literacy refers not to those student or learning concerns, but to the ways of reading/writing that are specialized to the actual fields of study. There is nothing wrong with addressing how to teach reading better in a social studies class or how to teach students to learn better from a social studies textbook … that just isn’t what we mean by disciplinary studies.
Thus, if someone is talking about how to read like a scientist, they are dealing with disciplinary literacy. But if they are talking about how to do story problems in math, how to memorize terminology in a science class, or the most pedagogically sound textbook to use in social studies, they are really talking about something else. If it is about being a better student or learning to read more effectively, it is not about disciplinary literacy (though I suspect if teachers focused more on apprenticing the students into the disciplines they would become better students).
The Common Core State Standards and the Indiana and Texas standards all attempt to address disciplinary literacy. They want their students to read literature the way that a literary critic would, or to read a history book the way a historian would.
I hear often from graduate students seeking information about disciplinary literacy. Towards that end I am providing the following partial bibliography. I think this could be helpful both to researchers and teachers.
Disciplinary literacy bibliography
Abel, K. L., and Exley, B. E. (2008). Using Halliday’s functional grammar to examine early years worded mathematics texts. Australia Journal of Language and Literacy, 31,227–241.
Akkus, R., Gunel, M., and Hand, B. (2007). Comparing an inquiry-based approach known as the science writing heuristic to traditional science teaching practices: Are there differences. International Journal of Science Education, 29, 1745-1765.
Amos, L. B. (2014). Disciplinary literacy in action: Epistemological resources for reasoning with domain-specific texts in history and the social sciences disciplines. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.
Anderson, J. R. (1983). The architecture of cognition. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Anthony, R. J., Tippett, C. D., and Yore, L. D. (2010). Pacific Crystal project: Explicit literacy instruction embedded in middle school science classrooms. Research In Science Education, 40, 45-64.
Ashby, R. (1993). Pilot study on students’ use of evidence. Unpublished study, Essex, England.
Ashby, R., and Lee, P.J. (1987). Children’s concepts of empathy and understanding in history. In C. Portal (Ed.), The history curriculum for teachers. London, England: Falmer Press.
Anzai, Y. (1991). Learning and use of representations for physics expertise. In K. A. Ericsson and J. Smith (Eds.) Toward a General Theory of Expertise — Prospects and Limits (pp. 64-92). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Ashby, R. (1993). Pilot study on students’ use of evidence. Unpublished study, Essex, England.
Ashby, R., and Lee, P.J. (1987). Children’s concepts of empathy and understanding in history. In C. Portal (Ed.), The history curriculum for teachers. London, England: Falmer Press.
Bazerman, C. (1985). Physicists reading physics: Schema-laden purposes and purpose-laden schema. Written Communication, 2, 3–23.
Bazerman, C. (1998). Shaping written knowledge: The genre and activity of the experimental article in science. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
Berkenkotter, C., Huckin, T.N., and Ackerman, J. (1988). Conventions, conversations, and the writer: Case study of a student in a rhetoric Ph.D. program. Research in the Teaching of English, 22, 9-44.
Berland, L. K., and Reiser, B. J. (2009). Making sense of argumentation and explanation. Science Education, 93(1), 26- 55.
Brill, G., Falk, H., and Yarden, A. (2004). The learning processes of two high?school biology students when reading primary literature. International Journal of Science Education, 26(4), 497-512.
Brozo, W.G., Moorman, G., Meyer, C., and Stewart, T. (2013). Content area reading and disciplinary literacy: A case for the radical center. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 56(5) 353-357.
Burke, K.A., Greenbowe, T.J., and Hand, B.M. (2006). Implementing the science writing heuristic in the chemistry laboratory, Journal of Chemical Education, 83(7), 1032-1038.
Cavagnetto, A. R. (2010). Argument to foster scientific literacy: A review of argument interventions in K-12 contexts. Review of Educational Research, 80, 336-371.
Chapman, S. C. (2015). Disciplinary literacy: A study of the cognitive, social, and semiotic practices of disciplinary experts. Unpublished dissertation, University of Florida.
Cherner, T., Kelley, A., and Norris, M. (2015). Disciplinary literacy: Teaching students to read as historians chapter. In T. N. Turner, J. Clabough, and W. Cole (Eds.), Getting at the core of the Common Core with social studies (pp. 153-166). Charlotte, NC, US: IAP Information Age Publishing.
Chi, M. R. H., Feltovich, P. J., and Glaser, R. (1980). Categorization and representation of physics problems by experts and novices. Cognitive Science, 5, 121-152.
Christiansen, L.M. (2007). Legal reading and success in law school: An empirical study. Seattle University Law Review, 30, 603-649.
Christiansen, L.M. (2008). The paradox of legal expertise: A study of experts and novices reading the law. Brigham Young University Education and Law Journal, 53, 53-87.
Deegan, D.H. (1995). Exploring individual differences among novices reading in a specific domain: The case of law. Reading Research Quarterly, 30(2), 154-70.
de La Paz, S. (2005). Historical reasoning instruction and writing strategy mastery in culturally and academically diverse middle school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 139-156.
de La Paz, S., Ferretti, R., Wissinger, D., Yee, L., and MacArthur, C. (2012). Adolescents’ disciplinary use of evidence, argumentative strategies, and organizational structure in writing about historical controversies. Written Communication, 29, 412-454.
de La Paz, S., and Wissinger, D.R. (2015). Effects of genre and content knowledge on historical thinking with academically diverse high school students. Journal of Experimental Education, 83, 110-129.
Donovan, M. S., and Bransford, J. D. (2005). How students learn. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Drew, S. V., Olinghouse, N. G., Faggella-Luby, M. W., and Megan, E. (2017). Framework for disciplinary writing in science Grades 6–12: A national survey. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109, 935-955.
Driver, R., Newton, P., and Osborne, J. (2000). Establishing the norms of scientific argumentation in classrooms. Science Education, 84, 287-312.
Duhaylongsod, L., Snow, C., E., Selman, R., l., and Donovan, M.S. (2015). Toward disciplinary literacy: dilemmas and challenges in designing history curriculum to support middle school students. Harvard Educational Review, 85, (4), 587-608.
Dunkerly-Bean, J., and Bean, T. W. (2016). Missing the “Savoir” for the “Connaissance”: Disciplinary and content area literacy as regimes of truth. Journal of Literacy Research, 48, 448-475.
Faggela-Luby, M.N., Graner, P.S., Deshler, D.D., and Drew, S.V. (2012). Building a house on sand: Why disciplinary literacy is not sufficient to replace general strategies for adolescent learners who struggle. Topics in Language Disorders, 32, 69-84.
Fang, Z. (2012). Language correlates of disciplinary literacy. Topics in Language Disorders, 32, 19-34.
Fang, Z. and Schleppegrell, M. (2008). Reading in second content areas: A language-based pedagogy. University of Michigan Press.
Fang, Z., and Schleppegrell, M. J. (2010). Disciplinary literacies across content areas: Supporting secondary reading through functional language analysis, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 53, 586-597.
Felton, M., and Kuhn, D. (2001). The development of argumentative discourse skill. Discourse Processes, 32(2 & 3), 135-153.
Fitzgerald, J.C. (2011). Comprehending historical narratives: Exploring the relationship between causal language and students’ mental representations of history. Unpublished dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.
Flury-Kashmanian, C. (2016). Engineers reading disciplinary texts: Skimming for “shiny objects” and tapping into knowledge and experience. Unpublished State University of New York at Buffalo.
Ford, M.J., and Wargo, B. M. (2012). Dialogic framing of scientific content for conceptual and epistemic understanding. Science Education, 96(3) 369-391.
Foster, T. C. (2003). How to read literature like a professor. New York: Harper.
Fulda, J. S. (1989). Material implication revisited. American Mathematical Monthly, 96, 247-250.
Fulda, J. S. (1992). Material implications. American Mathematical Monthly, 99, 48.
Fulda, J. S. (2009a). Rendering conditionals in mathematical discourse with conditional elements. Journal of Pragmatics, 41, 1435-1439.
Fulda, J. S. (2009b). Towards a unified theory of “ifs”—the theory of conditional elements: Further evidence from conditionally self-falsifying utterances. Journal of Pragmatics, 41, 1440-1448
Goldman, S. R., Britt, M. A., Brown, W., Cribb, G., George, M., Greenleaf, C., Lee, C.D., Shanahan, C., and Project READI (Submitted). Disciplinary literacies and learning to read for understanding: A conceptual framework of core concepts and processes.
Goldman, S.R., Lawless, K., Yukhymenko, M., Britt, M.A., Wallace, P., George, M., \ Pellegrino, J.W., Litman, C., Emig, J. Fortune, A., James, K., Burkett, C., and Project READI. (2016). Efficacy Study of 9th Grade READI Biology: Design, Assessment Strategy, and Findings. Presented at the American Educational Research Association.
Grant, M.C., and Fisher, D. (201). Reading and writing in science: Tools to develop disciplinary literacy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Greene, S. (1994). The problem of learning to think like a historian: Writing history in the culture of the classroom. Educational Pscyhologist, 29(2), 89-96.
Greenleaf, C., Hanson, T, Herman, J., Litman, C., Madden, Rosen, R., Boscardin, C. Schneider, S., and Silver, D. (2009). Integrating literacy and science instruction in high school biology: Impact on teacher practice, student engagement, and student achievement (Final report to NSF, Grant #0440379).
Guzzetti, B. J., Snyder, T. E., Glass, G. V., and Gamas, W. S. (1993). Promoting conceptual change in science: A comparative meta-analysis of instructional interventions from reading education and science education. Reading Research Quarterly, 117-159.
Halliday, M. A. K. (1994). An introduction to functional grammar (2nd ed.). London: Edward Arnold.
Halliday, M.A.K. (2004). The Language of Science. London: Continuum.
Halliday, M. A. K., and Martin, J. R. (1993). Writing science: Literacy and discursive power. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Hand, B. (1999). A writing-in-science framework designed to enhance science literacy.International Journal of Science Education, 21, 1021–1035.
Hand, B., Wallace, C., and Yang, E.M. (2004). Using a Science Writing Heuristic to enhance learning outcomes from laboratory activities in seventh?grade science: quantitative and qualitative aspects, International Journal of Science Education, 26(2), 131-149.
Hillman, A.M. (2017). Disciplinary literacy: A case study on how secondary teachers engage students in disciplinary discourses. Unpublished dissertation University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
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Hynd-Shanahan, C., Holschuh, J.P., and Hubbard, B.P. (2004). Thinking like a historian: College students’ reading of multiple historical documents. Journal of Literacy Research, 36, 141-176.
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Moje, E. B. (2007). Developing socially just subject-matter instruction: A review of the literature on disciplinary literacy. In L. Parker (Ed.), Review of Research in Education (vol. 31, pp. 1-44). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.
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