Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Lemley, Stephanie M.

Committee Member

Pope, Margaret

Committee Member

Yu, Chien

Committee Member

Miller, Nicole C.

Committee Member

Adams, James H.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Curriculum and Instruction

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education


During the fall 2017 and spring 2018 semesters, I investigated what 3 6th grade social studies teachers knew and believed about disciplinary literacy and how that knowledge and belief shaped their instructional practice. Descriptive case study design allowed me to investigate the 3 participants in order to develop a descriptive understanding and interpretation of the group. I collected the following data sources from each participant: a concept map illustrating ideas of literacy and social studies, 3 interviews, 4 observations, and teacher lesson plans and texts. I chose descriptive coding for the within-case analysis and pattern coding for the cross-case analysis. Through cross-case analysis, five interconnecting themes arose. All 3 teachers 1) believed social studies teachers should be well-versed in the content of social studies and should be passionate about teaching social studies content, 2) believed the role of civics was the main reason for social studies instruction, 3) believed social studies instruction should require students to engage, read, and comprehend varying types of text, 4) believed social studies teachers should be teachers of reading because literacy and social studies were strongly connected within an intertwined relationship, and 5) believed vocabulary development in social studies was necessary. 3 differences emerged among the participants. All 3 teachers 1) gained varying educational experiences which influenced their pedagogical choices in the social studies classroom, 2) demonstrated varying instructional routines when structuring the instruction of social studies, and 3) demonstrated varying levels of efficacy in teaching writing in social studies. Recommendations for teacher education are 1) preservice teachers need exposure to the term disciplinary literacy and practice in using disciplinary literacy; 2) leaders, curriculum specialists, and reading coaches should receive professional development on the incorporation of both content-area literacy pedagogy and disciplinary literacy pedagogy; 3) teachers need to refine disciplinary literacy pedagogy through supportive work in a professional learning community. Recommendations for future research are to 1) describe how teachers implicitly and explicitly teach literacy strategies within the different disciplines, 2) describe how teachers instruct using literacy skills and what specific literacy strategies are used, and 3) explore how teachers teach students to transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”