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Disciplinary Literacy in Health Education

Wisconsin's Definition of Disciplinary Literacy

In Wisconsin, disciplinary literacy is defined as the confluence of content knowledge, experiences, and skills merged with the ability to read, write, listen, speak, think critically and perform in a way that is meaningful within the context of a given field. For more information on the standards, please review the document on Literacy in all Subjects or the DPI Literacy in all Subjects webpage.

What is Health Literacy?

Links to overall literacy levels and focuses on people’s knowledge, motivation, and competencies to access, understand, appraise, and apply health information in order to make judgements and decisions in everyday life concerning health care, disease prevention, and health promotion to maintain or improve quality of life during the life course (Sorenson et. al., 2012)

How Does Health Literacy Align to Disciplinary Literacy?

A comprehensive skills-based health education course that is built upon the National Health Education Standards (Joint Committee, 2007) or the Wisconsin Standards For Health Education (WI Department of Public Instruction, 2011) and includes a variety of health topics as well as the skills needed to live a healthy life. The health educator can emphasize the application of literacy competencies of reading, writing, listening, speaking and critical thinking specifically in the context of health behaviors and outcomes. The National Health Education Standards and The Wisconsin Standards For Health Education have identified the main competencies to develop in the health education classroom:

  • Accessing Information
  • Analyzing influences
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Decision making
  • Goal setting
  • Self-management
  • Advocacy

Examples of Alignment of Literacy Skills to Health Education Skills

Nutrition
Literacy skills: reading, writing, critical thinking
Health Education skill: Accessing accurate information

Human Sexuality
Literacy skills: reading, writing, listening, speaking, critical thinking
Health Education skill: Analyzing Influences

Communication
Literacy skills: reading, writing, listening, speaking and critical thinking
Health Education skill: Interpersonal Communication

Alcohol and Other Drugs
Literacy skills: reading, writing, listening, speaking, critical thinking
Health Education skill: Decision making

HIV
Literacy skills: reading, writing, listening, speaking and critical thinking
Health Education skill: Goal setting

Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Literacy skills: reading, writing, listening, critical thinking
Health Education skills: Self-management

Tobacco
Literacy skills: reading, writing, speaking, listening and critical thinking
Health Education skill: Advocacy

Other Resources
Storybooks Based on WI State Standards Skills
Taxonomy Self-Questioning

For questions about this information, contact Sally Jones (608) 267-9234