27 SES 09 A, Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Subject Didactics – A Necessary Intercontinental Dialogue
The notion of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK, by the US-American scholar Shulman, since 1987) is widely spread all across the world, is very influential and considered by many as the equivalent to what we call “didactics” or more specifically subject didactics in most parts of Europe.
PCK represents the blending of content and pedagogy into an understanding of how particular aspects of subject matter are organized, adapted, and represented for instruction. Thus, it is as much a form of knowledge about content knowledge and the way it is or can be structured as it is a form of methodological reflection and action how to adapt, organize and represent this already transformed knowledge structure into ways of teaching it to audiences or classes.
But PCK as an amalgamism or integration in the mind of a teacher includes more: it embraces typically aspects of knowledge and consideration about what students (already) bring with them to school, how they learn and what their conceptions or pre-/mis-conceptions might be about a certain subject or topic. In other words, it includes a number of considerations or competences on the part of the teacher to know what the specific learning situation vis-à-vis a specific topic is, what types of difficulties (or easifying conditions) could come up for the students and how to react to them appropriately, in terms of didactic outline, design, methodical plan or moves. In short, PCK seems to be a mix of (deep) knowledge of the structure of a specific subject/topic AND as knowledge about subject-specific pedagogy or "didactics" (in European terminology). These two areas of knowledge within PCK cannot easily be kept apart, nor do we get to know how the development of PCK can be supported from the outside, acquired within teacher education or on the job, through teaching itself or through reflection and professional insight (cf. Berry, Friedrichsen & Loughran 2015).
The symposium will have three parts:
First, it will critically analyze the PCK-concept in its original form, in its different versions and its layers of reception and application over time (with examples given from recent research projects using that notion and putting it to empirical testing) (Presentation 1, based on Shulman and his critics).
The second part will contrast this approach with what is usually understood and practiced as didactics as a theory of teaching and learning – more specifically as Subject Didactics with at least six dimensions to be distinguished – in large parts of Europe. It seems that more specific competences are identified and distinguished for teachers in the European contexts, including the normative dimensions implied in setting and justifying goals, in selecting content and working on it in-depth (Presentation 2, mainly based on French and German authors in Didaktik/didactique).
The third part will focus on other differences between PCK and Subject Didactics: they lie in the labelling and quality of skills identified, the theoretical framing of teacher behavior and/or didactic knowledge for successful instruction and the reflection of their relationship in the mind of professional teachers and in the scientific study of subject teaching (AND learning) (Presentation 3, based on theoretical comparative work and practical considerations).
In the end a conceptual comparison is necessary, including implications: it will lead to a critical evaluation of both lines of thinking and argumentation. As a frame of reference we will apply the notion of “didactic literacy” and a metatheory of didactic decision-making, outlining what is implied conceptually and practically in each case, discussing how far the explanatory and practical power of each approach goes and can guide researchers and teachers alike, also in their potential attempts to cooperate.
Bayrhuber, H. & Frederking, V. (in process). PCK under the Perspective of General Subject Didactics. Critical Analysis and Consequences. In: RISTAL. (Auf dem Wege zu einer Allgemeinen Fachdidaktik, Band 1/2). Berry, A., Friedrichsen, P. & Loughran, J. (eds.). (2015). Re-examining Pedagogical content Knowledge in Science Education. Milton Park/New York: Taylor & Francis. Chevallard, Y. (2010). La didactique, dites-vous? Education & Didactique, 4, 139-147. Deng, Z. (2018). Rethinking Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Bringing Didaktik Thinking into the Conversation on Teachers’ Content Knowledge. Teaching and Teacher Education, 72, 155-164. Hudson, B. & Meyer, M. (Ed.) (2011). Beyond Fragmentation. Didactics, Learning and Teaching in Europe. London: Sage. Ligozat, F. & Almquist, J. (eds.) (2018). Didactics – Teaching and Learning. Special Issue of European Educational Research Journal, 17, 1. Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those Who Understand: Knowledge Growth in Teaching. In: Educational Researcher, February, 4-14 Shulman, L. S. (1987). Knowledge and Teaching. Foundations of the New Reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57, 1-22. Schneuwly, B. & Vollmer, H. J. (2017). Bildung and Subject Didactics - Exploring a classical concept for building new insights. EERJ 17(1), 1-14. Vollmer, H. J. (2014). Fachdidaktik and the Development of Generalised Subject Didactics in Germany. Education et didactique, 8 (1), 23-34.
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