Reaction to Content Area reading and Disciplinary Literacy

Content area literacy (CAL) and disciplinary literacy (DL) describe two approaches to literature instruction embedded within various subject areas or disciplines. Teachers’ beliefs about reading influences theory planning and implementation, and subscribers of both groups may be reluctant to implement reading strategies and strategies other than theirs (Pule, 2020). CAL focuses on study skills that can aid students in acquiring new content in a given discipline, while DL focuses on the unique tools for an expert in a discipline (Howell et al., 2021, Hinchman & O’Brien, 2019). CAL focuses massively on what to teach via comprehensive skills, study skills, prediction, and summarizing, while DL teaches students how to think and use the necessary tools. The paper analyzes the critique by Brozo’s et al. on CAL and DL and their radical response.

The authors analyze the discussion on the disciplinary literacy that has gained attention in the last two decades and the content area of reading that has remained unchanged for more than one century. Advocates of the DL have voiced concern about the CAL’s longstanding attribute that requires a teacher to be a ‘teacher of reading’ (Brozo et al., 2013). The author believes that the recent call for DL for one front and the defense of CAL from another is a challenge that hinders healthy discussion about effective teaching of literacy in the content classroom. Hence, the authors aim to offer an alternative approach to the conflicting discussion between CAL and DL. The article proposes a compromise for both practices based on honesty and intelligent dialogue between the participant of both methods. (Brozo et al., 2013). The recent appeal for CAL to be replaced by disciplinary literature solely is baseless and unproductive. The author found that the CAL’s resistance depends on the way teachers are offered generic strategies. A collaborative approach that promotes collaboration of CAL and disciplinary literacy provides optimal literacy teaching solutions. A blend of the two strategies can serve the needs of all students adequately.

The article proposes using both pedagogical theories to develop students’ proficiencies across subject areas. Both methods depend on utilizing texts to produce subject matter expertise for students. Reading the content to understand the discipline using comprehensive skills is necessary for students to master content (Hinchman & O’Brien, 2019). On the other hand, disciplinary literacy can help students comprehend ways to use the tools of the discipline. Nonetheless, none of the methods on its own offers an optimal and conclusive approach. Brozo’s et al. combination approach provides a more suitable and helpful approach. Additionally, the authors clearly and concisely expound on the ignored necessity of the CAL method. The article quells the doubts about the CAL approach helping students by developing expert ways of reading, writing, and thinking by highlighting its significance depends on the teacher’s engagement in thoughtful dialogue contextualizing the strategy (Pule, 2020). Nonetheless, the article has its weakness. While the authors offer and desirable approach, the argument may be perceptive due to limited academic sources. The article overemphasizes the necessity of CAL, and by doing so, more holistic research many are ignored. While focusing on the intersection is imperative, the research necessary for both methods has been missed. However, the article is an essential continuation of the relative new discussion of the disciplinary literature. The authors may be hoping to consolidate past research and incite future research.

I found the article well articulated. I think that Brozo’s et al. presents a formidable argument that continues the new discussion about disciplinary literature and incites further research and debate in the future. In current education, a paradigm shift in the learning process is necessary and due (Pule, 2020). Education in the last two centuries might have been exceedingly reliant on comprehensive skills, study skills, prediction, and summarizing, but todays’ market needs a different educational approach (Howell et al., 2021). I think the approach by the author to integrate disciplinary literacy into the CAL presents the most optimal solution in the current century. While I was unfamiliar with the disciplinary literacy approach, I believe the recent discussion presents a promising future where the tutor can integrate DL and content area reading and adequately educate and prepare students for their careers. 

I have interacted with content area literacy for the majority of my learning. Most CAL activities such as speaking, listening, and critical thinking must be integrated into each discipline to ensure that students develop knowledge and skills for college and career preparations (Hinchman & O’Brien, 2019). Most of my teachers have been passionate about their content area but have been reluctant to learn about using disciplinary literature in the classroom. The tutors might probably struggle with high-level literacy skills or limited literacy in their personal lives. Understanding both methods is essential, but most teachers are reluctant to learn and use DL in the classrooms.

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Questions may include                     

What specific action were you hoping the audience does result from your post?

Do you believe disciplinary literature provides a better approach to literature learning than content area learning?

If the alternative approach that advocates for compromise between disciplinary literacy and content-area teaching is beneficial, why has the method not been implemented? Why has the law not made it mandatory?


Brozo, W. G., Moorman, G., Meyer, C., & Stewart, T. (2013). Content area reading and disciplinary literacy: A case for the radical center. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy56(5), 353-357.

Howell, E., Barlow, W., & Dyches, J. (2021). Disciplinary Literacy: Successes and Challenges of Professional Development. Journal of Language and Literacy Education17(1), n1.

Pule, H. (2020). Content Area Literacy: The Effects of Focusing on Preservice Teachers’ Literacy Identities. Northwest Journal of Teacher Education15(1), 5.

Hinchman, K. A., & O’Brien, D. G. (2019). Disciplinary literacy: From infusion to hybridity. Journal of Literacy Research51(4), 525-536.