ERG SES C 05, STEM Education
Teaching is more beyond use of instructional activities (Loughran, Berry, & Mulhall, 2006). Learning how to teach is a demanding journey and necessitates time, effort, and motivation. In science teacher education literature, researchers have used pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) to examine teachers’ knowledge base for teaching after Shulman’s introduction of the construct (Shulman, 1986), that is a unique mixture of content and pedagogical knowledge for meaningful teaching a topic (Shulman, 1987). PCK is knowledge that includes chemistry concepts, learners’ difficulties and alternative conceptions (e.g., increasing temperature results in decreasing rate for exothermic reactions), curriculum goals and objectives (e.g., To be able to differentiate rate of reaction and equilibrium concepts), instructional strategies useful for teaching a topic (e.g., teaching reactions with predict-observe-explain), and assessment (e.g., assessing learners’ understanding of particles by the use of animations) necessary to check what students understand. PCK has 5 sub-components that are orientations to teaching (i.e., how students learn), knowledge of learner (i.e., difficulties and alternative conceptions), knowledge of instructional strategy (e.g., inquiry, 5E), knowledge of curriculum (i.e., goals and objectives), and knowledge of assessment (i.e., strategies to check what students learn, e.g., concept map, rubric). PCK is valuable construct to examine teachers’ practices due to complicated nature of teaching (Borko & Putnam, 1996). By the use of the sub-components of PCK construct, Loughran, Mulhall, and Berry (2004) developed an instrument for preparing lesson plan. The CoRe is a useful instrument to portray PCK. ‘’The CoRe enables a solid base around which an overview of teachers’ PCK for a topic can be articulated, and provides insights into the decisions that teachers make when teaching a particular topic, including the linkages between the content, students and teachers’ practice’’ (p.23). The CoRe is a two-dimensional instrument in matrix format. In the vertical dimension it has PCK components whereas big ideas that would be focused in the lesson plan in the horizontal one. The matrix layout of the instrument let PSTs relate big ideas that they intend to teach and PCK components. The CoRe, a modern version of lesson plan, plays an important role that is making teachers’ implicit knowledge for teaching explicit (Loughran et al., 2006). Hence, paying attention on teachers’ lesson plans is essential in understanding teachers’ intentions, actions, and decisions.
The very first step of teacher training starts in pre-service teacher (PST) education programs that have vital influence on teachers’ beliefs and practice before starting the profession. However, the programs are not very effective regarding providing rich and thorough education informed by research in teacher knowledge, learning, and practice (U.S. Department of Education, 2008). To address the problem, teacher education programs should make meaningful opportunities that are ‘’ ways of defining, assessing, and explicitly developing PCK” (Nilsson & Loughran, 2012, p. 700). To conclude, designing an effective PST education program is both main goal and the major problem that many countries in Europe and other parts of the world (the US and Australia). To provide more meaningful experiences to PSTs, teaching method course is one of the important parts of PST education programs. Hence, it deserves more attention than it takes. In this research, we aimed to examine the PSTs’ development of lesson planning through chemistry teaching method course, which I expected to offer valuable information to teacher educators in Europe and other parts of the World. The research question motivating the study was ‘’How does PSTs’ lesson planning by the use of the CoRe develop through 10-week topic-specific chemistry teaching method course?’ The details about the course syllabus will be given in the methodology section.
This study is qualitative in nature and specifically is a case study (Yin, 2009). 13 junior (i.e., 3rd- year students) PSTs, enrolled to ‘Chemistry Teaching Methods Course-I’, were the participants. All of them were volunteers to participate. They will be chemistry teachers after graduation from a 4-year (i.e., eight-semester) teacher education program. They took content courses (e.g., Organic chemistry) and pedagogy courses (i.e., Introduction to Education). The study was conducted during chemistry teaching method course which integrates content (i.e., chemistry) and pedagogy. In the course, each week we focused on a particular topic (e.g., Gases), curriculum objectives about the topic, learners’ possible difficulties and alternative conceptions, instructional strategies (e.g., 5E, inquiry) suitable for teaching the topic, and assessment of learners’ understanding (e.g., preparing rubrics, concept map). Each week we introduced an instructional strategy and assessment technique by implementing those on the topic focused. During implementation, for instance inquiry strategies for teaching Reaction rate topic, PSTs were given a research question. They studied with groups to hypothesize, collect and analyze data and draw a conclusion, which means they experienced inquiry strategy. To examine their development of planning lesson, we collected data as pre- and post-administrations of the Content Representation (CoRe) tool developed by (Loughran, et al., 2004), and pre-and post-interview (i.e., about 20 minutes for each participant) after CoRe preparation. Before pre-CoRe, we introduced a CoRe (i.e., prepared by an expert) for teaching Matter topic and examined it. Then, participants prepared a CoRe for teaching Acid-Base topic by the use of high-school textbook. Acid-base topic was selected due to abundance of activities, daily-life applications. During semester, 10-week training for 10 different topics was provided. Coherence among curriculum, learner, instructional strategy and assessment was highlighted in the course. In the 6th week, a CoRE preparation homework for teaching any topic was assigned. Feedback was provided to each one. Then they revised the CoRe and resubmit it. In the last week, participants were requested to prepare post-CoRe in acid-base topic. CoRes were examined by the use of a rubric formed from literature reviewed. Rubric has criteria, namely, stating standards and objectives, coherence among objectives, assessment, and teaching methods, content knowledge, learners’ difficulties/ misconceptions about topic, use of teaching methods, and assessment, which are very related to PCK components. Two researchers coded 25% of data independently and compared results. We had a good reliability score of .85 (Miles & Huberman (1994).
Results revealed that PSTs had major problems regarding objectives, use of teaching methods (i.e., almost all of them planned to use traditional method), coherence among components of lesson plan (i.e., objectives, standards, assessment, and teaching methods), predicting learners’ possible difficulties and alternative conceptions, assessment, and content knowledge in pre-CoRe. In post-CoRe, we realized some development regarding setting objectives, use of student-centered teaching methods (e.g., 5E, role playing), use of assessment strategies (e.g., concept cartoon, rubric), predicting learners’ possible difficulties and alternative conceptions about acids/ bases ( e.g., Acid strength of an acid increases with the number of Hydrogen that an acid has), and content knowledge (i.e., much deeper content knowledge presented in post-CoRe). However, there were some parts that we have not helped PSTs develop. For instance, for the majority of PSTs, coherence was a big problem. For instance, one of them stated standards, and determined the goal as ‘acid strength’, s/he planned to determine pH of some daily-life materials (e.g., vinegar), which is irrelevant to goal set. Additionally, s/he assessed learners’ understanding of acid ionization constant calculations. To conclude, we had some progress in lesson planning; however, some parts need more specific attention. (The interview data will be used to validate the CoRe data for the presentation). Topic-specific teaching methods course, use of CoRe, and examining CoRes prepared by expert, and preparing CoRe are useful strategies. To accelerate the improvement regarding planning conceptual and coherent lessons PSTs need support. To fulfill that goal, teacher educators should supplement the courses offered. For future research, teacher educators may focus on usefulness of peer-planning and mentoring on preparing lesson plans in addition to the strategies used in this study.
Borko, H. & Putnam, R. (1996). Learning to teach. In D.C. Berliner & R.C. Calfee (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (pp. 673–708). New York: Macmillan. Loughran, J., Mulhall, P., & Berry, A. (2004). In search of pedagogical content knowledge in science: Developing ways of articulating and documenting professional practice. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(4), 370-391. doi:10.1002/tea.20007 Loughran, J., Berry, A., & Mulhall, P. (2006). Understanding and developing science teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. Nilsson, P., & Loughran, J. (2012). Exploring the development of pre-service science elementary teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 23(7), 699 – 721. doi. 10.1007/s10972-011-9239-y Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4 – 14. Shulman, L. S. (1987). Knowledge and training: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1 – 22. U.S. Department of Education (2008). The final report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Washington, DC: Author. Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods (4th ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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