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Disciplinary Literacy From a Speech–Language Pathologist's Perspective

Ehren, Barbara J.; Murza, Kimberly A.; Malani, Melissa D.

doi: 10.1097/TLD.0b013e318244e8d4
Disciplinary Literacy

Disciplinary literacy is an increasingly popular focal area in adolescent literacy. In disciplinary literacy, the discourse features of specific knowledge domains (e.g., literature, history, science, and math) assume major importance in understanding and constructing meaning in each discipline. Because language plays a significant role in disciplinary literacy, speech–language pathologists (SLPs), as professionals with expertise in language, can contribute in important ways to adolescents' proficiency in this area. This is especially true with adolescents who struggle, for whom difficulty understanding or manipulating language may be at the root of their problems. Work in disciplinary literacy is consistent with roles and responsibilities of SLPs in schools, as outlined by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2010). The authors explore specific ways in which SLPs may address adolescent literacy by working directly with adolescents who struggle or with their teachers to support classroom instruction in specific content domains. A major concept presented is that adolescents who struggle are likely to need work on more fundamental language and literacy elements in addition to those germane to specific disciplines.

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Central Florida, Orlando.

Corresponding Author: Barbara J. Ehren, EdD, CCC-SLP, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32816 (

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins