Building Disciplinary Literacy through Popular Fiction

Kristin Leigh Cook, Elizabeth G. Dinkins


Science educators have noted the unique characteristics of science literacy in terms of text structure, vocabulary demands, and reliance on abstract concepts (Cervetti, Pearson, Bravo, & Barber, 2006; Fang & Schleppegrell, 2008; Pytash, 2013). Furthermore, other scholars have defined scientific thinking processes as inextricable from the reading and writing practices used to communicate them (Norris & Phillips, 2003).  Through a collaboration between a literacy educator and a science educator, we hoped to reimagine a content area reading course for middle and high school pre-service science teachers that incorporated a focus on the disciplinary literacy of science through popular fiction. Without positioning literacy as overly additive, our pre-service teachers illustrated there are ways to logistically structure scientific inquiry to include and authentically underscore disciplinary literacy. Our findings suggest specific practices for how teacher educators can best support the disciplinary literacy development of pre-service science teachers. 


pre-service teachers, disciplinary literacy, popular fiction, inquiry-based science

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