Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Committee Chair(s)

Kimberly Lott


Kimberly Lott


Steven Camacia


Colby Tofel-Grehl


Leigh K. Smith


Suzie Jones


This case study explores elementary teachers’ conceptions and enactment of disciplinary literacy in elementary science instruction and the interaction between the two. Specifically, the purpose of this research was to describe how four fifth-grade teachers view literacy appropriate to science. Participants for this research were invited to participate by responding to an online survey and were selected based on criteria. Data sources include interviews, teacher artifacts, and observation. Qualitative data were coded, the codes compared to ideas in the field (overall themes), and global themes were generated as sense making tools to describe trends found in each case, case comparisons, and all cases together. The final written report includes narratives describing individual and comparison cases as well as the overall themes, global themes, and graphics displaying relationships between codes and themes for all cases. Findings suggest these educators’ view literacy as reading, writing, speaking and listening; text as written words; and science text as written words that contain science content. Additionally, teachers’ conceptions of disciplinary literacy were heavily focused on general literacy ideas of speaking, listening, reading, and writing to comprehend information. In practice, disciplinary literacy in science instruction again presented as general literacy acquisition. However, during enactment, each teacher’s unique conception of what is entailed in overall effective instruction interacted with general literacy ideas to personalize instruction. This suggests that teacher preparation programs and in-service teacher development opportunities should explicitly help educators to understand what disciplinary literacy is, how it is different from general literacy, what it looks like in instructional resources, and how to implement it during science instruction.