Academic journal article Education Research International

Developing Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Lessons Learned from Intervention Studies

Academic journal article Education Research International

Developing Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Lessons Learned from Intervention Studies

Article excerpt

Academic Editor:Leonidas Kyriakides

Centre for Instructional Psychology and Technology, KU Leuven, Dekenstraat 2, Postbox 3773, 3000 Leuven, Belgium

Received 21 May 2015; Revised 16 July 2015; Accepted 27 July 2015; 13 August 2015

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

1. Introduction

Shulman [1] introduced the concept "pedagogical content knowledge" (PCK) as a possible answer to the so-called "missing paradigm" in research and practice on teaching. Teaching was either approached by only focusing on content or by exclusively focusing on pedagogy. Shulman believed that neither approach grasped every aspect of teachers' knowledge base. Hence, he defined PCK as "that special amalgam of content and pedagogy that is uniquely the province of teachers, their own special form of professional understanding", p. 8 [2]. The two main components that Shulman [1] distinguished in PCK were, on the one hand, the most useful forms of representing the topics in one's subject area and, on the other hand, an understanding of what makes the learning of these topics easy or difficult for students. Besides PCK, he considered other categories in teachers' knowledge base, that is, content knowledge (CK), general pedagogical knowledge (PK), curriculum knowledge, knowledge of learners and their characteristics, knowledge of educational contexts, and knowledge of educational ends, purposes, and values [2].

Since Shulman's introduction of PCK, the concept has been adopted by various researchers, resulting in both theoretical developments and empirical research. Several authors elaborated Shulman's initial framework of PCK. Grossman [3], who studied PCK in the context of language, added two other components to Shulman's original PCK components, that is, knowledge of curriculum and knowledge of purposes for teaching. Another elaboration that has been very influential in the context of science education is the model of Magnusson et al. [4]. This model added three components to the original ones of Shulman, that is, orientation to teaching science (i.e., knowledge and beliefs about purposes and goals for teaching), knowledge of science curricula, and knowledge of assessment of scientific literacy. Within the context of mathematics, the model of Ball et al. [5], focusing on the concept "content knowledge for teaching mathematics" (CKTM), has been very influential. This model includes both PCK and CK, with each of these two parts being divided into three components. Concerning PCK, the model includes (1) knowledge of content and students, which is similar to Shulman's knowledge of students' (mis)conceptions, (2) knowledge of content and teaching, which is similar to Shulman's knowledge of educational representations, and (3) knowledge of curriculum. Regarding CK, the CKTM model includes (1) common content knowledge, which is mathematical knowledge that is used in other than educational contexts, (2) specialized content knowledge, which is mathematical knowledge that is unique to teaching contexts, and (3) knowledge at the mathematical horizon, meaning being aware of how separate mathematical topics relate to each other.

Recently, test instruments to measure teacher cognition have been developed and used in several studies, leading to empirical confirmation of Shulman's claim that PCK makes a difference for instructional quality and student learning. For instance, Baumert et al. [6] found a significant positive effect of teachers' CK and PCK on instructional quality (assessed by means of student ratings, teacher self-reports, and analyses of tasks) and on student progress in mathematics education (measured through an achievement test). Results even showed that PCK had greater predictive power for student progress and instructional quality than CK. …

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