Summary: Disciplinary literacy is about the particular focus on reading and writing in a discipline or content area, the unique texts and strategies that constitute a discipline. This collection contains a small set of resources to start to explore disciplinary literacy.
The WAC Clearinghouse, in distinguishing between a focus on writing in the disciplines (WID) and more general uses of writing such as writing to learn (WTL) or writing to engage (WTE), points to the specific disciplinary purposes that content area teachers might attach to their writing assignments and tasks.
“Writing assignments of this sort are designed to introduce or give students practice with the writing conventions of a discipline and to help them gain familiarity and fluency with specific genres and formats typical of a given discipline. For example, the engineering lab report includes much different information in a format quite different from the annual business report.”
Although teachers at different grades are likely to put differing emphases on the degree to which they expect students to follow the formal conventions of writing in their content areas, they are commonly likely to be focused on the habits of mind and intellectual strategies of the discipline. In fact, the WAC Clearinghouse states: “Without doubt, the single most important reason for assigning writing tasks in disciplinary courses is to introduce students to the thinking and writing of that discipline. Even though students read disciplinary texts and learn course material, until they practice the language of the discipline through writing, they are less likely to learn that language thoroughly.”
Given that NWP sites bring teachers together across disciplines to investigate writing, they are ideal communities of practice to think more about WID approaches and WAC approaches, whether through reading/study groups, action research and inquiry projects, or assignment sharing. The resources collected in this pathway may spark your thinking. Each one, of course, links to additional resources at WLL to take you down a learning pathway.