The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore Grades 6-8 teachers knowledge and beliefs about science literacy and instruction that develops science literacy, in both the fundamental and derived senses. All Grade 6 elementary teachers and Grades 7-8 middle school science teachers from five school districts in the Mountain West region of the U.S. were invited to participate by responding to an online survey consisting of open response questions and critical instances. Data were analyzed using an immersion style of coding. Findings suggest a majority of teachers view literacy as reading and writing and text as something that is read or written. Teachers described science literacy as either the integration of science and literacy or as using basic literacy skills in science. When teachers were asked to identify quality instruction for developing science literacy via critical instances, a majority were successful when presented with examples that exemplify best practices in teaching science literacy but could not discriminate levels of quality when examples included minimal or no elements considered to be best practices. This suggests that teacher education programs and professional development should include opportunities that help preservice and practicing teachers better understand the importance of teaching both science subject matter knowledge as well as communicative practices used in science.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Teacher Education

Date Submitted


Document Type





disciplinary literacy, elementary, middle school, science education, science literacy