Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 8, Issue 1, Article 8 (June, 2007)
A frame for the development of preservice science teachers

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Understanding the Facets of Pedagogical Knowledge and Pedagogical Content Knowledge

On first inspection it would be easy to view the facets of the pedagogical knowledge model as hierarchical with classroom management and organisation, instructional models and strategies and classroom communication and discourse being conceived as the development of technical aspects demonstrated by behaviour in the classroom.  The model could also be viewed as a progressive continuum or a staged development in that it is necessary to acquire mastery of these three facets before a preservice teacher can “move on” in Furlong and Maynard’s terms. Furlong and Maynard (1995) support the notion of a staged development with pre-service teachers progressing from ‘personal survival’, to ‘dealing with difficulties’, to achieving confidence and competence in management and organisation, to eventually ‘moving on’ to pupil engagement. In this sense these facets can be viewed as being about practical competence.  When pre-service teachers have not mastered these facets in their classrooms, they can often be judged to be weaker. In Furlong and Maynard’s stages of development, these preservice teachers are often operating at the lower stages (Stages 1-3; early idealism to personal survival to dealing with difficulties) as opposed to the higher stages of hitting a plateau (Stage 4, where preservice teachers look like teachers but lack understanding of teaching and learning) and moving on (Stage 5, where preservice teachers re-evaluate, plan and reflect in terms of pupil learning).

Personal pedagogical knowledge, personal beliefs/perceptions and personal practical experience could be interpreted as being of higher order in terms of the students’ understanding of their own teaching; the development of a higher order cognitive dimension in teaching. Preservice teachers need to develop and integrate all of the facets in their pedagogical knowledge model in order to make progress.

Classroom management and organisation, instructional models and strategies, and classroom communication and discourse have a significant cognitive dimension because as preservice teachers reflect on their personal beliefs/perceptions and personal practical experience and develop their personal pedagogical knowledge, they need to reframe these other three facets (classroom management and organisation, instructional models and strategies and classroom communication and discourse) in generating general pedagogical knowledge.  Reflecting on their understanding of classroom management and organisation, instructional models and strategies and classroom communication and discourse in developing general pedagogical knowledge influences their personal pedagogical knowledge.  This feeds back into an increase in their teaching repertoire, developing their context specific pedagogical knowledge.  There needs to be feedback loops between all of the facets, and reflection becomes the critical facet in this process of facilitating these feedback mechanisms. It therefore becomes a critical component of any preservice science teacher education course to build in the use of reflective tools in order to monitor and evaluate preservice science teacher’s development, as well as encouraging preservice teachers to self-monitor their own learning.

Similarly, the development of pedagogical content knowledge requires an integrated view, where all the different categories feed into the development of such knowledge. It could be viewed that the two aspects of the refined model represented in Figure 1, where the facet of pedagogical knowledge are represented on the left-hand side and the categories of knowledge that assist in the development of PCK are located on the right-hand side, help to distinguish between teachers’ views of the “dailiness of teaching” as portrayed through the development of pedagogical knowledge and the more highly desirable professional development and “big picture” thinking portrayed through the development of PCK. For teachers, operating across all levels, but with increasing emphasis on the categories of knowledge located on the right-hand side of this figure would be desirable.

Others have also attempted to delineate the nature of PCK. Magnusson, Krajcik and Borko, (1999) proposed that PCK was composed of five components: orientation towards science teaching, knowledge of the curriculum, knowledge of science assessment, knowledge of science learners, and knowledge of instructional strategies.

Again the similarities can be seen with both the components proposed by Magnusson et al. and the categories and facets proposed by Morine-Dershimer and Kent (1999). Both highlight the importance of knowledge of assessment, learners, curriculum and instructional strategies. Magnusson et al.’s “orientation towards science teaching” differs slightly from Morine-Dershimer and Kent’s model in that it is about teachers’ knowledge and beliefs about the purposes and goals for teaching science at a particular grade level. Such knowledge and beliefs service as a conceptual road map that guides the instructional decisions a teacher makes about issues such as learning objectives, content of assignments, evaluation of student learning and the use of curriculum materials. This orientation towards teaching science does share some of the characteristics of what Morine-Dershimer and Kent have called knowledge of specific contexts.

In introducing preservice teachers to the complexity of learning how to be effective science teachers, there are a great many discrete entities of which the preservice teacher needs to be aware. Preservice chemistry teachers, a small subset of the larger science preservice teacher group, at Monash University, Australia, undergo a program that has been framed around the models represented above. As Gess-Newsome (1999) suggests

Good models, like good theories, organize knowledge in new ways, integrate previously disparate findings, suggest explanations, stimulate research and reveal new relationships (p3).

The intention is that by making these ideas and intentions within a preservice science teacher education course explicit to the preservice teachers, they will take greater responsibility for their learning and development within these knowledge bases.


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