Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Psychology (Psy.D.)


Education Specialties

First Advisor

Rachael Helfrick

Second Advisor

Alyssa McDowell

Third Advisor

Michael Sampson


Social studies education provides education researchers with a less common opportunity to discover multimodal instructional methods for disciplinary literacy. During a 12-week period in 2021, four social studies teachers with at least one history course in a large suburban Mercer County, New Jersey school district participated in a case study to showcase how disciplinary literacy can be implemented using multimodal design. Given the existing lack of research on instructional literacy design for secondary grades, this study provides researchers and practitioners with multiple perspectives on how to maximize teaching practices in underrepresented areas of education. Significantly, social studies teachers will thus be able to build a highly effective set of disciplinary literacy activities that incorporate multimodalities, whether in a remote, hybrid, or traditional setting. The main research question for this study is: What are the experiences of teachers implementing disciplinary reading instruction using multimodality? In turn, the research sub-questions consider: How does the prior academic and/or professional background of participating social studies teachers influence the implementation of disciplinary literacy with multimodalities? To what extent are teachers reflecting on the effectiveness of the implementation of this practice? The instructional design for this study is based on Lave and Wenger’s (1991) situated learning: within the series of mini lessons, learned literacy takes place for students through participation while the whole person acts in the world. Participants were selected through purposive sampling in conjunction with the district’s central office administration. With the district looking to advance disciplinary literacy for all subjects over the next decade, the most collaborative-oriented social studies were selected, specifically either honors- or academic-level history courses. Through the case study, participant educators developed their understanding of how disciplinary literacy is attained for students, particularly through relationship-building and social practice. The overall findings highlight positive experiences from teachers after implementing a series of disciplinary literacy-focused mini-units with multimodalities. Since this study uses entirely qualitative methods, the data invites further analysis using different qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-method approaches to determine the best means to implement disciplinary literacy within history education, both during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Included in

Education Commons