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Learning Interchange
National Writing Institute

Saturday, May 25, 2024


Illiterate because of age, stage of development or developmental disabilities.

Nominal Literacy:
May understand that a term, question or topic is related to a discipline but knows little else about it. Cognitive psychologists call this illiteracy.
  • Identifies terms as belonging to the discipline
  • Demonstrates misconceptions
  • Has naive explanations
  • Shows minimal understanding

Functional Literacy:
Can use vocabultary ofa discipline, but only within a specific context, such as defining a term on a test, reading a newspaper, or listening to a television program.

  • Uses vocabulary of the discipline
  • Defines terms correctly
  • Memorizes special responses
  • Understands only a specific need or activity

Concentual and Procedural Literacy:
Understands how the concepts of a discipline relate to the discipline as a whole and to the methods and processes of inquiry .

  • Understands conceptual schemes of the discipline
  • Understands procedural knowledge and skills of the discipline
  • Understands relationships among parts and whole of the discipline

Multidimensional Literacy:
Recognizes the importance of integral, contextual perspectives. Includes the philosophical, historical, and social dimensions of a discipline; develops an understanding and appreciation for a discipline as a cultural enterprise, makes connections among disciplines and between a discipline and larger social problems and aspirations.

  • Understands the place of the discipline among other disciplines
  • Knows the history of the discipline
  • Knows the nature of the discipline
  • Understands the interactions between the discipline and society

Adapted from Achieving Scientific Literacy. Roger Bybee.

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