Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Teaching within a Curricular Zone of Safety: School Culture and the Situated Nature of Student Teachers' Pedagogical Content Knowledge

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Teaching within a Curricular Zone of Safety: School Culture and the Situated Nature of Student Teachers' Pedagogical Content Knowledge

Article excerpt

Shulman (1987) described pedagogical content knowledge, one of seven categories of teachers' knowledge base, as "that special amalgam of content and pedagogy that is uniquely the province of teachers, their own special form of professional understanding". Locating pedagogical content knowledge within the political debates surrounding teacher testing and certification, Shulman (1986) made a case not only that teaching requires a substantial, wide-ranging knowledge base, but that teachers must know their subject matter in ways that surpass what other subject area experts would need to know--teachers must also possess pedagogical content knowledge.

With state legislatures proposing alternative routes to certification, talking about pedagogical content knowledge as a category distinct from subject matter knowledge is helpful for explaining why majoring in 19th century English literature or computer science does not mean an individual is qualified to teach ninth-grade composition and geometry or first-grade reading and mathematics. Distinguishing pedagogical content knowledge from subject matter knowledge underscores the importance of teacher education, a point demonstrated in Grossman's (1990) comparative study of teachers with and without teacher education.

The meaning of pedagogical content knowledge has since been extended beyond those dimensions relevant to the political arena. Shulman's (1986, 1987) early writings were not research reports outlining a consistent definition--a task later undertaken by his students, colleagues, and other researchers. Marks (1990) and Grossman (1990) described pedagogical content knowledge as integrating knowledge of content, pupils' understandings of that content, instructional strategies and media, curriculum, and purposes for teaching the subject matter. Gudmundsdottir (1990) showed how values that teachers hold about subject matter are an implicit part of pedagogical content knowledge. In regard to pedagogical content knowledge as a category separate from subject matter knowledge, McEwan and Bull (1991) demonstrated how "no formal difference exists between subject matter knowledge and pedagogic content knowledge. To the degree that it is addressed to particular audiences, all subject matter is pedagogic". Finally, Marks (1990) found that "any precise demarcation of pedagogical content knowledge from subject matter knowledge and general pedagogical knowledge is somewhat arbitrary". He likened pedagogical content knowledge, content knowledge, and pedagogical knowledge to three connected neighborhoods with distinct central identities yet blurred identities where they connect.

Although Shulman (1986, 1987) emphasized those aspects of pedagogical content knowledge associated with expertise, other studies explored the development of pedagogical content knowledge and the inadequacies of preservice and inservice teachers' knowledge. lake other forms of knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge develops over time and can be more or less differentiated (i.e., developed) and more or less adequate. For example, preservice and beginning teachers were reported to have inadequate understanding of how pupils learn or respond to content and to have problems using, integrating, and transforming knowledge in practice. Their pedagogical content knowledge was not strong enough to enable them to assess pupil performance and give adequate feedback (Clift, 1991; Florio-Ruane & Lensmire, 1990; Grossman & Richert, 1988; Rovegno, 1992; Wilson & Wineburg, 1988). On the positive side, these studies also report how the act of teaching facilitated the development of pedagogical content knowledge.

Despite work delineating the dimensions of pedagogical content knowledge, more detailed analyses are needed. As Clift (1991) suggests, we know little about contextual aspects or about how various aspects of pedagogical content knowledge get activated, integrated, and transformed in practice. …

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