Many students in higher education, even in graduate school, begin as outsiders when they encounter disciplines related to their courses. Their professors are the experts. They are not. The terminology, literature, and even cultures of these disciplines form barriers to participation. Disciplinary enculturation is the process by which students become active participants within disciplines rather than outsiders trying to look over disciplinary walls.
Disciplines need to be seen as "communities of practice"* rather than as repositories of knowledge. As such, they have an agreed upon knowledge base (with variants), a culture (with variants), and a methodology (with variants). Three terms label these elements of communities of practice: epistemology, metanarrative, and method. Disciplinary analysis is a first step for students entering into disciplinary communities as participants. Beginning students must ask key questions that compel a discipline to explain itself, thus providing a path to enculturation.
This is a guide to the theory and practice of disciplinary enculturation