Revealing the Structural Complexity of Component Interactions of Topic-Specific PCK when Planning to Teach

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Abstract

Teaching pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) at a topic-specific level requires clarity on the content-specific nature of the components employed, as well as the specific features that bring about the desirable depth in teacher explanations. Such understanding is often hazy; yet, it influences the nature of teacher tasks and learning opportunities afforded to pre-service teachers in a teaching program. The purpose of this study was twofold: firstly, to illuminate the emerging complexity when content-specific components of PCK interact when planning to teach a chemistry topic; and secondly, to identify the kinds of teacher tasks that promote the emergence of such complexity. Data collected were content representations (CoRes) in chemical equilibrium accompanied by expanded lesson outlines from 15 pre-service teachers in their final year of study towards a first degree in teaching (B Ed). The analysis involved extraction of episodes that exhibited component interaction by using a qualitative in-depth analysis method. The results revealed the structure in which the components of PCK in a topic interact among each other to be linear, interwoven, or a combination of the two. The interwoven interactions contained multiple components that connected explanations on different aspects of a concept, all working in a complementary manner. The most sophisticated component interactions emerged from teacher tasks on descriptions of a lesson sequence and a summary of a lesson. Recommendations in this study highlight core practices for making pedagogical transformation of topic content knowledge more accessible.

Keywords

Topic-specific pedagogical content knowledge Component interactions Chemical equilibrium Pre-service teachers Transformation of content knowledge 

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Science Education Division, Wits School of EducationUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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