Instructional Science

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 99–126 | Cite as

Promoting pre-service teachers’ integration of professional knowledge: effects of writing tasks and prompts on learning from multiple documents

  • Thomas LehmannEmail author
  • Benjamin Rott
  • Florian Schmidt-Borcherding


The present study aims to investigate the effects of writing tasks and prompts on knowledge integration across domains. One hundred pre-service teachers were asked to read and develop a global understanding of textbook excerpts from the core domains of their professional knowledge: content knowledge (CK), pedagogical knowledge (PK), and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). In an experimental 2 × 2 design, we varied two means to support knowledge integration, namely, essay writing tasks (unspecific vs. argument) and preactional integration prompts in the form of focus questions (with vs. without). In addition to the essays, a pre-post-knowledge test and an intertextual inference verification task served as dependent variables. Students’ motivation was assessed as a covariate. In all experimental conditions, students showed significant knowledge gains within the three domains. A category-driven content analysis of students’ essays indicated main effects of both writing tasks and prompts. That is, the argument task and the prompts independently promoted knowledge integration across domains. For the intertextual inference verification task, the positive influence of prompts was restricted to students in the unspecific writing task condition and in consideration of a compensatory effect of motivation. Taken together, the study expands evidence for the efficacy of argument tasks and preactional prompts on promoting knowledge integration across pre-service teachers’ CK, PK, and PCK. The findings are discussed with regard to multiple-document comprehension and pre-service teacher education.


Knowledge integration Teacher knowledge Multiple-document comprehension Writing-to-learn Prompts Pre-service teacher education 



We thank our anonymous reviewers for their effort and valuable comments that helped us to improve our manuscript. Furthermore, we thank our student research assistants Maike Hemmerich, Leonie Lichte, and Kristin Scherf for their support in the collection and preparation of the data.


This research was supported in the course of the University of Bremen’s future concept by the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Unit: Learning, Instruction, and Educational Psychology, Faculty of Pedagogy and Educational SciencesUniversity of BremenBremenGermany
  2. 2.Faculty of Mathematics and Natural SciencesUniversity of CologneCologneGermany

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