Journal of Science Teacher Education

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 263–286 | Cite as

Real-World Applications and Instructional Representations Among Prospective Elementary Science Teachers

  • Elizabeth A. Davis
  • Debra Petish
Feature Article


This paper explores new elementary teachers' instructional representations and how these are related to their science subject matter knowledge. One pair of prospective elementary teachers studied here exhibited a well-integrated, principled, and scientifically accurate understanding of the science they were teaching. The other pair exhibited less scientifically accurate and integrated knowledge. The pair with stronger subject matter knowledge developed instructional representations that were more scientifically and pedagogically appropriate. A perspective on one aspect of pedagogical content knowledge—knowledge of instructional representations—is presented. Real-world applications are hypothesized to play a crucial mediating role for elementary teachers. The paper concludes with a discussion of implications for elementary science teacher educators and researchers, including the importance of attending to how prospective teachers apply science knowledge to real-world situations.


Teacher Educator Science Knowledge Content Knowledge Prospective Teacher Pedagogical Content Knowledge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1993). Benchmarks for science literacy. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, R. D., & Mitchener, C. P. (1994). Research on science teacher education. In D. L. Gabel (Ed.), Handbook of research on science teaching and learning (pp. 3–44). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  3. Appleton, K. (2003). How do beginning primary school teachers cope with science? Toward an understanding of science teaching practice. Research in Science Education, 33, 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ball, D. L., & Bass, H. (2000). Interweaving content and pedagogy in teaching and learning to teach: Knowing and using mathematics. In J. Boaler (Ed.), Multiple perspectives on the teaching and learning of mathematics (pp. 83–104). Westport, CT: Ablex.Google Scholar
  5. Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.). (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  6. Carlsen, W. S. (1992). Closing down the conversation: Discouraging student talk on unfamiliar science content. Journal of Classroom Interaction, 27(2), 15–21.Google Scholar
  7. Chi, M., Glaser, R., & Rees, E. (1982). Expertise in problem solving. In R. Sternberg (Ed.), Advances in the psychology of human intelligence (Vol. 1, pp. 7–76). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  8. Clement, J. (1982). Students' preconceptions in introductory mechanics. American Journal of Physics, 50, 66–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davis, E. A. (2003). Prompting middle school science students for productive reflection: Generic and directed prompts. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 12, 91–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Davis, E. A. (2004). Knowledge integration in science teaching: Analyzing teachers' knowledge development. Research in Science Education, 34, 21–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Davis, E. A. (in press). Preservice elementary teachers' critique of instructional materials for science. Science Education.Google Scholar
  12. diSessa, A. (1993). Toward an epistemology of physics. Cognition and Instruction, 10, 105–225.Google Scholar
  13. Driver, R., Guesne, E., & Tiberghien, A. (Eds.). (1985). Children's ideas in science. Philadelphia: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Erickson, F. (1986). Qualitative methods in research on teaching. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (pp. 119–161). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  15. Fernandez-Balboa, J., & Stiehl, J. (1995). The generic nature of pedagogical content knowledge among college professors. Teaching and Teacher Education, 11, 293–306.Google Scholar
  16. Gess-Newsome, J. (1999). Pedagogical content knowledge: An introduction and orientation. In J. Gess-Newsome, & N. Lederman (Eds.), Examining pedagogical content knowledge: The construct and its implications for science education (pp. 3–17). The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  17. Grossman, P. (1990). The making of a teacher: Teacher knowledge and teacher education. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  18. Hartman, M. (2004). Situating teacher learning in the practice of mathematics and science teaching. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.Google Scholar
  19. Hashweh, M. (1987). Effects of subject-matter knowledge in the teaching of biology and physics. Teaching and Teacher Education, 3, 109–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Howe, A., & Jones, L. (1998). Engaging children in science. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.Google Scholar
  21. Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium. (1992). Models standards for beginning teacher licensing and development: A resource for state dialogue. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.Google Scholar
  22. Lederman, N., Gess-Newsome, J., & Latz, M. (1994). The nature and development of preservice science teachers' conceptions of subject matter and pedagogy. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 31, 129–146.Google Scholar
  23. Lincoln, Y., & Guba, E. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  24. Linn, M. C., & Eylon, B.-S. (1996, July). Lifelong science learning: A longitudinal case study. Paper presented at the Cognitive Science Conference, San Diego, CA.Google Scholar
  25. Linn, M. C., Eylon, B.-S., & Davis, E. A. (2004). The knowledge integration perspective on learning. In M. C. Linn, E. A. Davis, & P. Bell (Eds.), Internet environments for science education (pp. 29–46). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  26. Linn, M. C., & Hsi, S. (2000). Computers, teachers, and peers: Science learning partners. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  27. Linn, M. C., & Songer, N. B. (1991). Teaching thermodynamics to middle school students: What are appropriate cognitive demands? Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 28, 885–918.Google Scholar
  28. Ma, L. (1999). Knowing and teaching elementary mathematics. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  29. Magnusson, S., Krajcik, J., & Borko, H. (1999). Nature, sources, and development of pedagogical content knowledge for science teaching. In J. Gess-Newsome, & N. Lederman (Eds.), Examining pedagogical content knowledge: The construct and its implications for science education (pp. 95–132). The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  30. McDiarmid, G. W., Ball, D. L., & Anderson, C. W. (1989). Why staying one chapter ahead doesn't really work: Subject-specific pedagogy. In M. C. Reynolds (Ed.), Knowledge base for the beginning teacher (pp. 193–205). New York: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  31. Merriam, S. B. (1988). Case study research in education: A qualitative approach. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  32. Minstrell, J. A. (1989). Teaching science for understanding. In L. B. Resnick, & L. E. Klopfer (Eds.), Toward the thinking curriculum: Current cognitive research: 1989 ASCD Yearbook (pp. 129–149). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.Google Scholar
  33. National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. (1987). NCATE standards, procedures, and policies for the accreditation of professional education units: The accreditation of professional education units for the preparation of professional school personnel at basic and advanced levels. Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  34. National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  35. Putnam, R. T., Heaton, R. M., Prawat, R. S., & Remillard, J. (1992). Teaching mathematics for understanding: Discussing case studies of four fifth-grade teachers. The Elementary School Journal, 93, 213–228.Google Scholar
  36. Roth, W.-M., McGinn, M., & Bowen, G. M. (1998). How prepared are preservice teachers to teach scientific inquiry? Levels of performance in scientific representation practices. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 9, 25–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rowan, B., Chiang, F., & Miller, R. (1997). Using research on employees' performance to study the effects of teachers on students' achievement. Sociology of Education, 70, 256–284.Google Scholar
  38. Sherin, M. G. (2002). When teaching becomes learning. Cognition and Instruction, 20, 119–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4–14.Google Scholar
  40. Smith, D. C., & Neale, D. C. (1989). The construction of subject matter knowledge in primary science teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 5, 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Stake, R. E. (2000). Case studies. In N. Denzin, & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 435–454). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  42. Treagust, D., & Harrison, A. (2000). In search of explanatory frameworks: An analysis of Richard Feynman's lecture “Atoms in Motion.” International Journal of Science Education, 22, 1157–1170.Google Scholar
  43. van Driel, J., De Jong, O., & Verloop, N. (2002). The development of preservice chemistry teachers' pedagogical content knowledge. Science Education, 86, 572–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. van Driel, J., Verloop, N., & de Vos, W. (1998). Developing science teachers' pedagogical content knowledge. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 35, 673–695.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. White, B. (1993). Intermediate causal models: A missing link for science education? In R. Glaser (Ed.), Advances in instructional psychology (Vol. 4, pp. 177–252). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  46. Wilson, S. M., Shulman, L., & Richert, A. (1987). 150 different ways of knowing: Representations of knowledge in teaching. In J. Calderhead (Ed.), Exploring teachers' thinking (pp. 104–124). London: Cassell Educational Limited.Google Scholar
  47. Wolcott, H. F. (1994). Transforming qualitative data: Description, analysis, and interpretation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  48. Wu, H.-K. (2002). Middle school students' development of inscriptional practices in inquiry-based classrooms. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.Google Scholar
  49. Yerrick, R., Doster, E., Nugent, J., Parke, H., & Crawley, F. (2003). Social interaction and the use of analogy: An analysis of preservice teachers' talk during physics inquiry lessons. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40, 443–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Zembal-Saul, C., Blumenfeld, P., & Krajcik, J. (2000). Influence of guided cycles of planning, teaching, and reflection on prospective elementary teachers' science content representations. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37, 318–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zembal-Saul, C., Krajcik, J., & Blumenfeld, P. (2002). Elementary student teachers' science content representations. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39, 443–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth A. Davis
    • 1
  • Debra Petish
    • 2
  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborU.S.A.
  2. 2.Glenbrook South High SchoolGlenviewU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations