Using apps to support disciplinary literacy and science learning

Jill Castek, Richard Beach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


We have argued that apps can be used in innovative ways to support science and literacy learning. With the skilled guidance of teachers, students can exploit app affordances for learning and use disciplinary literacies unique to science. For example, students can build conceptual understanding and communicate ideas through the use of concept-mapping, note-taking/annotation, and screencasting apps. These apps allow students to access information and create their own digital products that include rich visual representations. The use of note-taking/annotation apps further supports close reading of science texts. One key affordance across apps involves an awareness of the potential for transfer of visual and verbal analysis. This is evidenced in the use of drawing in the ShowMe and VoiceThread apps, which foster the use of visual representations and narration to convey ideas. The act of inviting viewer commentary into the projects encouraged students to revise the construction of their ideas, their drawings, and verbal explanations. Take Action offers additional ideas for instructional uses of these apps. Our classroom examples serve to illustrate that these app affordances were not simply in the apps but, rather, that they were fostered by how teachers exploited these affordances to achieve their own specific learning objectives. This suggests that, as with any learning tool, teachers who are beginning to incorporate apps into their instruction need to carefully consider how to use these tools in ways that best serve to enhance their students' learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)554-564
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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