Unpacking the Complexity of Science Teachers’ PCK in Action: Enacted and Personal PCK

  • Alicia C. AlonzoEmail author
  • Amanda Berry
  • Pernilla Nilsson


This chapter focuses on enacted PCK (ePCK), i.e. the specific knowledge and skills that science teachers use in their practice, as it plays out in specific classroom contexts while teaching particular content to their students. In unpacking this aspect of the Refined Consensus Model (RCM) of PCK, we consider both the nature of ePCK and its interactions with other realms of PCK, primarily personal PCK (pPCK). Recognising the complexity of classroom practice—in terms of both the uniqueness of each classroom situation and the necessarily spontaneous nature of classroom interactions—we propose a mechanism through which pPCK is transformed into ePCK, and vice versa, throughout the plan-teach-reflect cycle. We then illustrate these ideas using several empirical examples of efforts to capture and analyse science teachers’ ePCK (and associated pPCK). We conclude with discussion of some of the opportunities, challenges and implications of using the RCM, along with our unpacking of ePCK and its relationship to pPCK, as a means of understanding the knowledge that science teachers utilise in the midst of planning, teaching and reflecting.


  1. Akerson, V. L., Flick, L. B., & Lederman, N. G. (2000). The influence of primary children’s ideas in science on teaching practice. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37, 363–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alonzo, A. C., & Kim, J. (2016). Declarative and dynamic pedagogical content knowledge as elicited through two video-based interview methods. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 53, 1259–1286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bertram, A., & Loughran, J. (2012). Science teachers’ views on CoRes and PaP-eRs as a framework for articulating and developing pedagogical content knowledge. Research in Science Education, 42, 1027–1047.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Eraut, M. (2000). Non-formal learning and tacit knowledge in professional work. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70, 113–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ericsson, K. A., & Simon, H. A. (1993). Protocol analysis: Verbal reports as data. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  6. Gess-Newsome, J. (2015). A model of teacher professional knowledge and skill including PCK: Results of the thinking from the PCK summit. In A. Berry, P. Friedrichsen, & J. Loughran (Eds.), Re-examining pedagogical content knowledge in science education (pp. 28–42). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Henze, I., & Van Driel, J. H. (2015). Toward a more comprehensive way to capture PCK in its complexity. In A. Berry, P. Friedrichsen, & J. Loughran (Eds.), Re-examining pedagogical content knowledge in science education (pp. 120–134). New York, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Hume, A., & Berry, A. (2011). Constructing CoRes—a strategy for building PCK in pre-service science teacher education. Research in Science Education, 41(3), 341–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kind, V. (2009). Pedagogical content knowledge in science education: perspectives and potential for progress. Studies in science education, 45(2), 169–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Knievel, I., Lindemeier, A. M., & Heinze, A. (2015). Beyond knowledge: Measuring primary teachers’ subject-specific competences in and for teaching mathematics with items based on video vignettes. International Journal of Science & Mathematics Education, 13(2), 309–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kulgemeyer, C., & Schecker, H. (2013). Students explaining science—assessment of science communication competence. Research in Science Education, 43, 2235–2256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Leighton, J. P. (2004). Avoiding misconception, misuse, and missed opportunities: The collection of verbal reports in educational achievement testing. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 23(4), 6–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lindmeier, A. (2011). Modeling and measuring knowledge and competencies of teachers: A threefold domain-specific structure model for mathematics. Münster, Germany: Waxmann.Google Scholar
  14. Loughran, J., Milroy, P., Berry, A., Mulhall, P., & Gunstone, R. (2001). Science cases in action: Documenting science teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge through PaP-eRs. Research in Science Education, 31, 289–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Loughran, J., Berry, A., & Mulhall, P. (2006). Understanding and developing science teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge. Dordrecht: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  16. Nilsson, P. (2008). Teaching for understanding—the complex nature of PCK in pre-service teacher education. International Journal of Science Education, 30(10), 1281–1299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Nilsson, P., & Karlsson. (2018). Capturing student teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) using CoRes and digital technology. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  18. Nilsson, P., & Loughran, J. (2012). Exploring the development of pre-service elementary teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 23(7), 699–721.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Schmelzing, S., van Driel, J. H., Jüttner, M., Brandenbusch, S., Sandmann, A., & Neuhaus, B. J. (2013). Development, evaluation, and validation of a paper-and-pencil test for measuring two components of biology teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge concerning the “cardiovascular system”. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 11, 1369–1390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alicia C. Alonzo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amanda Berry
    • 2
  • Pernilla Nilsson
    • 3
  1. 1.Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Monash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Halmstad UniversityHalmstadSweden

Personalised recommendations