This project seeks to advance understandings of teacher professional knowledge in science. It focuses on bringing greater clarity to the pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) construct, the model of professional knowledge in which PCK is embedded, and its implications for enhancing teacher practice and student learning.

Thirty participants from eight countries will take on the task of contributing to and/or completing this synthesis through a summit and follow-up activities. A set of recommendations will be made to guide future research aimed at advancing this field of study.

This is a very worthy project in science education research. It is innovative and brings together world-wide experts in science education to develop products that will communicate refined models for teacher professional knowledge. The project draws on past NSF-supported research and builds on a highly diverse body of literature. It yields a wealth of information that could lead to a commonly accepted agreement among science education researchers about PCK and articulates future directions for collaborative research as well as instrument development and/or refinement.

Project Report

The primary purpose of this grant was to convene a working conference of experts who study Pedagogical Content Knowledge, or PCK, in science education. PCK is thought to be a critical type of knowledge that teachers have that makes them effective as teachers. From 20-26 October 2012 we hosted the PCK Summit in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA with the explicit purpose of having leading researchers in this field of study address the considerable divergences in the interpretation and understanding of PCK and clarify distinctions between different, viable models of PCK. The Summit participants came from seven different countries and all had a history of studying PCK within science education and a willingness to consider whether or not it was possible to agree to a consensus model for studying PCK. As a result of the Summit, we developed a shared definition of PCK, a consensus model for studying PCK, and a number of products, most of which are available at The shared definition has two parts: Personal PCK is the knowledge of, reasoning behind, and planning for teaching a particular topic in a particular way for a particular purpose to particular students for enhanced student outcomes (Reflection on Action, Explicit) Personal PCK and Skill is the act of teaching a particular topic in a particular way for a particular purpose to particular students for enhanced student outcomes (Reflection in Action, tacit or explicit) The consensus model is presented in Image 1. The Model of Teacher Professional Knowledge and Skill including PCK teases apart previously conflated concepts and clarifies relationships among key ideas. Topic Specific Content Knowledge is recognized as professional knowledge derived from the research literature and best practices found in the Teacher Professional Knowledge Bases. PCK is defined as topic specific, existing within a specific classroom context, and can be examined as both a knowledge base and a skill set. Between teacher knowledge and instruction, and between classroom practice and student learning, there exist Amplifiers and Filters that differentially impact what teachers do and what students learn. Each part of the model has a recursive influence on other parts, offering opportunities for professional development interventions. The converging influences of context, knowledge, belief, and skill highlight the difficulty in tracing a clear path from teacher knowledge to student learning outcomes. The model offers explanatory power for past research and directions for future research. The website includes access to these products: An interactive version of the Summit agenda, which will take you to the papers and PowerPoint presentations; A link to the keynote address Lee Shulman (the originator of PCK) gave to start the Summit; A video of the Summit Story that summarizes the conference; Six FORUMs – online modules of study designed to help you experience the Summit through video, discussion with a group you create, and an online community through this site; A discussion forum, called Mingle, which encourages on-going conversations about PCK research through threaded discussions; and A dissemination chart, which is an ongoing chart of presentations and papers that those who attended the Summit continue to give. In addition, Routledge will publish a book that extends the thinking of the Summit in Spring 2015. The book is titled Re-Examining Pedagogical Content Knowledge, is edited by Amanda Berry, Pat Friedrichsen & John Loughran, and includes 15 invited chapters about the study of PCK.

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Oregon State University
United States
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