Disciplinary literacy in the science classroom: Using adaptive primary literature

Michele Hollingsworth Koomen, Sarah Weaver, Robert B Blair, Karen S Oberhauser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


This study reports on an innovative version of adaptive primary literature (APL) that we call Science Behind the Scenes used during a summer professional development (PD) program. Classroom teachers read and discussed papers from the primary literature, and created translations of these papers relevant to their own classroom needs. We randomly selected 31 teacher-created Science behind the Scenes products for evaluation with a rubric that was aligned with the K-12 Science Education Frameworks (2012). In addition, we interviewed groups of teachers at follow-up sessions and individual teachers who used the APL in their classrooms. We used frameworks for grounded theory to sort the interview text and descriptive statistical measures for quantitative data. Our analysis reveals two key findings: (i) the teachers created respectable adaptations of primary scientific literature into APL; and (ii) the teachers used the APL products in their classrooms to support the discourse of science and disciplinary literacy, and to create a bridge to the scientific enterprise. Our findings have implications for instructional design, curricular materials, professional development, and science education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-894
Number of pages48
JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • adaptive primary literature
  • citizen science
  • disciplinary literacy
  • professional development
  • scientific practice


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