Original Research

Doing critical disciplinary literacies in teacher education: A pedagogical framework

Navan Govender, Saima Salehjee, Clinton D. Van der Merwe
African Journal of Teacher Education and Development | Vol 3, No 1 | a41 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajoted.v3i1.41 | © 2024 Navan Govender, Saima Salehjee, Clinton David van der Merwe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 February 2024 | Published: 28 June 2024

About the author(s)

Navan Govender, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Saima Salehjee, School of Social and Environmental Sustainability, University of Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
Clinton D. Van der Merwe, Department of Humanities Education, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: This article explores the possibilities for conceptualising and doing critical disciplinary literacies (CDL) in (teacher) education.

Aim: By revisiting and adapting Luke and Freebody’s four resources model, we consider the critical questions that teachers and teacher educators could ask about knowledge, practice, and text and/or representation within different disciplines.

Setting: Our use of the word ‘critical’ in CDL is therefore underpinned by traditions of critical literacies in which power and identity are fundamental to participating in disciplinary fields.

Methods: Using two cases as illustrative examples of CDL in context, one from science education and one from geography education, we demonstrate how our CDL model reveals possibilities for doing critical literacies across the curriculum and with disciplinary content knowledge and practice.

Results: Each case illustrates the pedagogical utility of the CDL framework for: (1) relating the disciplines to students’ lives and (2) demystifying the processes of producing disciplinary texts.

Conclusion: We end with a call to action for student teachers, teachers, and teacher educators to explore the pedagogical utility of our CDL model by identifying the dominant texts of their (inter/trans) disciplinary work, interrogating the privileged sign systems as well as assumptions about imagined audiences of disciplinary texts, and (re) designing text and practice by drawing on multiple sources and approaches to representing knowledge and engaging in social action.

Contribution: In this article, we build on scholarship in critical literacies, disciplinary literacies, and teacher education by adapting and applying Luke and Freebody’s four resources model to different disciplinary texts and practices, with implications for pedagogy at school and higher education contexts.


critical literacy; disciplinary literacy; content-area literacy; science literacy; geography literacy

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education


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