Original Research

What counts as disciplinary literacy instructional approaches in teacher education?

Nhlanhla Mpofu, Mncedisi C. Maphalala
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 16, No 1 | a728 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v16i1.728 | © 2020 Nhlanhla Mpofu, Mncedisi C. Maphalala | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 July 2019 | Published: 26 February 2020

About the author(s)

Nhlanhla Mpofu, School of Social Sciences and Language Education, Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Mncedisi C. Maphalala, Department of Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Zululand, Richards Bay, South Africa


Drawing on the literature, this article examines approaches for developing disciplinary literacy in teacher education. Findings from different researchers indicate that most university entrants are underprepared for the academic literacy required to thrive in this system. While the focus of such research is critical, the generic approach that most researchers have taken in this area is largely questioned. Building on this dissatisfaction, there is a growing number of studies that promote distinctive, epistemological and discursive practices of disciplinary literacy. However, limited studies have sought to understand the approaches used in disciplinary literacy instruction in teacher education. Thus, this study explored through a literature study the approaches used by initial teacher education to prepare pre-service student teachers as disciplinary literacy facilitators. Through this focus, this article contributes to this knowledge gap by accounting for the approaches used in teacher education to develop disciplinary literacy instruction. To achieve the purpose of the article, we framed our argument from a social constructivism perspective. Based on an analysis of literature, we motivate for the need for understanding disciplinary literacy as a phenomenon that is embedded in social practice, fluidity, human interaction, and institutional and historical artefacts, but that also requires regulation.


disciplinary literacy; normative approach; social constructivism; teacher education; transformative approach.


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