The Integration of Cognitive and Sociocultural Theories of Literacy Development: Why? How?


  • Katherine Davidson University of Western Ontario



cognitive theory, sociocultural theory, literacy instruction, literacy development, literacy research


Cognitive and sociocultural theories of literacy development are historically considered incommensurable in practice and in research. Cognitivists view literacy development as a succession of qualitatively varied skills whereas socioculturalists view literacy as socially and culturally embedded. Traditional educational discourses tend to reflect cognitivist perspectives, which risk creating and maintaining social inequities in our increasingly diverse society. The underpinnings and differences of these two theories are discussed. It is argued that integration of the theories is possible and desirable in educational practice and research in order to equalize the learning opportunities for all students.

Author Biography

Katherine Davidson, University of Western Ontario

Katherine Davidson is a doctoral candidate in education. Her research interests are in literacy and the use of research in education.