Tamara Polzin





Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Karen Moroz

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Vivian Johnson

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Charlayne Myers


For some students, grasping the concept of literacy is completed with ease. For others, the challenges of developing literacy skills to aid in their ability to move from learning to read to reading to learn proves challenging. These challenges cause a gap in literacy growth and have shown to increase as students get older preventing them from fully accessing the concepts found in the secondary setting. As such, secondary educators are being called upon with the assumption that all teachers are teachers of reading. With this in mind, this qualitative research study aimed to uncover secondary social studies teachers’ understanding of literacy and their confidence in implementing literacy in their disciplinary course instruction. More specifically, this research gleaned to answer the primary research question: How do secondary social studies teachers describe their confidence in teaching disciplinary literacy within their courses to students with low literacy skills? In addition to answering the following secondary questions: What factors do secondary social studies teachers describe as influencing confidence/skill levels in teaching these students? How do secondary social studies teachers describe the support systems available to them in their setting as impacting their level of confidence/skills for working with these students? Participants in this study were gathered from the state’s Council for Social Studies and through the participants' willingness to pass the research on to colleagues. Participants in this study completed an online survey (part one and two) and qualitative interviews. Through an analysis of the survey results of this small study, the data indicated secondary social studies teachers’ acknowledged an increase in confidence but also highlighted areas for continued growth. In addition, qualitative interviews were conducted and a system of coding was used to aid in the analysis of the transcribed interview to answer the research questions. Secondary social studies teachers believed the inclusion of literacy was important and have gained confidence in using literacy strategies in the classroom. Furthermore, the participants highlighted areas of continuous improvement as they worked toward the inclusion of literacy strategies in their classrooms. And lastly, the participants suggested several key factors and support systems that help in building confidence in working with students with low literacy skills: quality professional development, time, collaboration, materials, research, and relationships. Keywords: disciplinary literacy, literacy

Research Methodology

Interview, Survey (attitude scale, opinion, questionnaire)


At-risk Students, Leadership, Literacy, Reading








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