Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

General Pedagogical Knowledge of Future Middle School Teachers: On the Complex Ecology of Teacher Education in the United States, Germany, and Taiwan

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

General Pedagogical Knowledge of Future Middle School Teachers: On the Complex Ecology of Teacher Education in the United States, Germany, and Taiwan

Article excerpt

Researchers identify and distinguish three domains of teacher knowledge (Baumert & Kunter, 2006; Bromme, 1997; Grossmann & Richert, 1988; Shulman, 1986, 1987): content knowledge (CK), pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), and general pedagogical knowledge (GPK). Regarding the latter domain, one can state that although over the past few years the body of research on teacher knowledge has been growing, it still remains an open question as to what exactly is meant by the term GPK and what this knowledge domain incorporates. In a time of globalization, when the discourse on teacher education and the definition of what preservice and inservice teachers have to know and be able to do are no longer limited to institutional, regional, or national boundaries, the fact that the term itself is not used in all countries, or at least not in the same way, will inevitably come to the front and increasingly lead to the need for clarification.

However, discussions about the reform of teacher education often are dominated more by evaluative than evidence-based statements (Ball, Thames, & Phelps, 2008; Konig & Blomeke, in press). Especially with regard to general pedagogy as a component of teacher education programs, broad claims about its uselessness, as well as about what future teachers need to know at the end of their training, have been made and linked with requests either to eliminate this component or to structure it in a new way (Grossman, 1992; Kagan, 1992). Even if such discussions and assumptions provide promising hypotheses, without empirical testing they have their limits in the process of improving teacher education (Larcher & Oelkers, 2004).

The growing body of research in the field of teacher knowledge and empirical testing has a special focus on subject-related issues, mostly exemplified by mathematics teachers, as prominent research studies like Learning Mathematics for Teaching (e.g., Ball et al., 2008; Hill, Rowan, & Ball, 2005); Mathematics Teaching in the 21st Century (Schmidt, Blomeke, & Tatto, in press); or Professional Competence of Teachers, Cognitively Activating Instruction, and Development of Students' Mathematical Literacy (Baumert et al., 2010; Krauss, Baumert, & Blum, 2008) illustrate. These studies mainly focused on the teacher knowledge domains of CK and PCK in mathematics.

Another prominent study with such a focus was the Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics (TEDS-M; for details, see the introductory article by Tatto & Senk, 2011, in this issue) carried out under the supervision of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). TEDS-M was a comparative study of teacher education and the first IEA study on tertiary education, as well as the first international large-scale assessment of future teachers that worked with representative samples. The TEDS-M target population were mathematics teachers for elementary and middle schools in their final year of teacher education.

A central component of TEDS-M was to measure the professional knowledge of future teachers. However, the common international questionnaire only measured future teachers' mathematics content knowledge (MCK) and mathematics pedagogical content knowledge (MPCK). Three participating countries--the United States, Germany, and Taiwan--therefore decided to participate in a national option measuring future teachers' GPK, which was developed under the leadership of the German TEDS-M team (Blomeke & Konig, 2010a, 2010b; Konig & Blomeke, 2009, 2010a, 2010b, 2010c).

This article reports how the GPK test was conceptualized in the context of TEDS-M. It specifies the elements of GPK that future teachers have to acquire in teacher education in order to progress from the stage of teacher "novices" to "advanced beginners" (Berliner, 2001, 2004). Based on data from future teachers in the United States, Germany, and Taiwan, the structure of GPK, as well as specific strengths and weaknesses of U. …

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