Disciplinary Literacy in STEM: A Functional Approach

This study explores disciplinary literacy instruction integrated within an elementary engineering unit in an urban classroom. A multidisciplinary team of university literacy and engineering educators and classroom teachers served as the research team for this case study. A social semiotic language theory (systemic functional linguistics) and a framework of mechanistic reasoning informed the instruction and analysis of classroom discourse and student writing. The study illustrates how a flexible set of disciplinary language choices functioned to support students’ evolving reasoning as part of the engineering design process. These findings provide insights into synergy between language and reasoning as a habit of design. These findings also inform calls to align science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) literacy and core disciplinary practices within both Common Core State Standards for (English language arts) ELA and Next Generation Science Standards.

Paugh, P. & Wendell K. (2021). Disciplinary literacy in STEM: A functional approach. Journal of Literacy Research, 53(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/1086296X20986905