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What It Is They Do: Differentiating Knowledge and Literacy Practices Across Content Disciplines


  • Holly Johnson,

  • Patricia A. Watson,

  • Tina Delahunty,

  • Patrick McSwiggen,

  • Tara Smith


This study addresses the gap that exists between literacy educators’ knowledge of content disciplines and the literacy strategies often suggested for use in content classrooms. The authors worked with disciplinary experts in mathematics and geography to understand the differences that exist in their conceptions of the disciplines and what it means to be literate in them. Study results were categorized into themes, which include “major understandings of the field,” “literacy in the discipline,” and “practice of the discipline.” Further subcategories include texts used in the discipline; the types of strategies used to become literate in the discipline, and the types of questions addressed within the discipline. Implications for teachers and teacher candidates are also addressed.