Teacher knowledge: What is it? 2010


How do we uncover it? What are its implications for schooling?

Miriam Ben-Peretza, E-mail The Corresponding Author

a Department of Education, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel

Available online 24 August 2010.

 

Abstract

This paper follows the ways in which publications in TATE, that focus on teacher knowledge, provide insights into the development and growth of scholarly understanding of teacher knowledge. Relevant questions are: How is teacher knowledge defined? What modes of inquiry are adopted by the researchers? What are conceived as the implications of teacher knowledge for schooling? In order to answer these questions, nine papers were chosen from TATE according to the following criteria:

1. distributed over a period of 20 years from 1988 to 2009 
2. representing an international group of scholars
3. reflecting modes of inquiry
4. focusing on a variety of themes related to teacher knowledge

These papers were analyzed according to the following aspects:

Definition of teacher knowledge 
Mode of inquiry
Emphasis on one or more of the commonplaces of education – subject matter, learner, teacher, milieu (
Schwab, 1964
Emphasis on one or more of the kinds of teacher knowledge suggested by
Shulman (1986) 

The analysis of each paper is presented followed by a discussion.

Several tendencies in the development of the concept of teacher knowledge are noted. There is the extension of the term to include societal issues. As well, one finds a growing focus on the personal aspects of knowledge. The role of context in shaping teacher knowledge plays a crucial role in the analyzed papers, reflecting changes in the milieu of schooling. The main mode of inquiry in the analyzed papers is qualitative, interpretative. The authors of the various papers were interested in the concrete experiences and views of student teachers, and teachers, concerning their knowledge and its acquisition. This approach yields important insights but leaves open several questions. First, the curricular question: what concrete opportunities for gaining knowledge are offered to student teachers? Another question concerns the modes of teachers’ use of their professional knowledge. This question requires detailed observations and documentation of teachers’ actions in classrooms, trying to link their knowledge and practice.

The papers analyzed in this review share a common scholarly language and are based in Western culture. It is important to see, as well, studies conducted in other cultures, which might have a different view of teacher knowledge.

Keywords: Teacher knowledge; Professional knowledge; Practical knowledge; Commonplaces; Curriculum subject knowledge; Teacher change

star, openThis review also serves as the Editorial for the Teaching and Teacher Education Virtual Special Issue on Teacher Knowledge, available online at: http://cws-live-st.elsevier.com/wps/find/S06_342.cws_home/tate_vsi_teacher_knowledge.


4.1. Concluding comments

The analysis of nine TATE papers on teacher knowledge yielded some insights into the development of this concept over time. Whether this development has found its way into teacher education programs is an important question. It seems that the prevailing emphasis on standards, and measurement of achievement, influences teacher education. For instance, Hayes, Capel, and Katene (2008) claim that content knowledge was seen as being most important by student teachers and their mentors. On the other hand, university tutors had a broader conceptualization of subject knowledge in line with Shulman, 1987 L.S. Shulman, Knowledge and teaching: foundations of the new reform, Harvard Educational Review 57 (1) (1987), pp. 1–22.Shulman’s (1987) categories of teacher knowledge:

Within subject knowledge you have to have knowledge of: curriculum; how people learn; different learning strategies to suit different learners. You have to have knowledge of wider aspects i.e. pedagogical knowledge. So, there is a whole range of knowledge bases you need, which all together produce subject knowledge for physical education (University tutor C) (p. 336) 

The apparent gap between scholarly frameworks and studies, and the reality of teacher education and schooling, calls for attention by educators and policy makers.

This paper follows the ways in which publications in TATE, that focus on teacher knowledge, provide insights into the development and growth of scholarly understanding of teacher knowledge. Relevant questions are: How is teacher knowledge defined? What modes of inquiry are adopted by the researchers? What are conceived as the implications of teacher knowledge for schooling? In order to answer these questions, nine papers were chosen from TATE according to the following criteria: 1. distributed over a period of 20 years from 1988 to 2009 2. representing an international group of scholars 3. reflecting modes of inquiry 4. focusing on a variety of themes related to teacher knowledge These papers were analyzed according to the following aspects: (1) Definition of teacher knowledge; (2) Mode of inquiry; (3) Emphasis on one or more of the commonplaces of education–subject matter, learner, teacher, milieu (Schwab, 1964); and (4) Emphasis on one or more of the kinds of teacher knowledge suggested by Shulman (1986). The analysis of each paper is presented followed by a discussion. Several tendencies in the development of the concept of teacher knowledge are noted. There is the extension of the term to include societal issues. As well, one finds a growing focus on the personal aspects of knowledge. The role of context in shaping teacher knowledge plays a crucial role in the analyzed papers, reflecting changes in the milieu of schooling. The main mode of inquiry in the analyzed papers is qualitative, interpretative. The authors of the various papers were interested in the concrete experiences and views of student teachers, and teachers, concerning their knowledge and its acquisition. This approach yields important insights but leaves open several questions. First, the curricular question: what concrete opportunities for gaining knowledge are offered to student teachers? Another question concerns the modes of teachers’ use of their professional knowledge. This question requires detailed observations and documentation of teachers’ actions in classrooms, trying to link their knowledge and practice. The papers analyzed in this review share a common scholarly language and are based in Western culture. It is important to see, as well, studies conducted in other cultures, which might have a different view of teacher knowledge.

The papers analyzed in this review share a common scholarly language and are based in Western culture. It is important to see, as well, studies conducted in other cultures, which might have a different view of teacher knowledge.

It would be interesting

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