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UBC Theses and Dissertations

From campus to classroom : a study of elementary teacher candidates’ pedagogical content knowledge Adler, James Douglas


In this study, I explored a cohort of elementary teacher candidates’ Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) and how it was influenced before, during, and after participation in a science methods course and extended practicum experience in a 12-month teacher education programme at a University in Western Canada. I adopted a case study approach that employed a mixed methods perspective to investigate the effect of the science teaching methods course and extended practicum on the participants’ PCK. I administered a non-disguised, self-enumerated, online questionnaire to assess and interpret the candidates’ PCK. I also elicited and interpreted their views on their experiences through semi-structured interviews using phenomenographic methods. My findings indicate the students who entered the program and participated in the online questionnaire had a PCK level of 7 out a maximum of 11 (M=7.1431, SD=1.07794). The teacher candidates I interviewed believed they possessed awareness of PCK from prior experiences including being science students at both elementary and secondary levels and during volunteer experiences. At the end of their science teaching methods course, teacher candidates participating in the on-line questionnaire scored a PCK level of 8 out of a maximum of 11 (M=8.0719, SD=1.03280); those interviewed attributed their increased PCK level to working with their science methods instructor in the Teacher Education Programme. At the end of the extended practicum, the same teacher candidates were again surveyed by completing the same online questionnaire. Analysis and interpretation of their responses indicated their PCK level as having dropped to 7 out of a maximum of 11 (M=7.0783, SD=0.72437). My analysis of the follow-up interviews with the teacher candidates showed that their relationship with the school advisor and the real world teaching experience of the practicum influenced the drop in PCK. My research provides insight into teacher candidates’ PCK as they progress through a 12-Month Teacher Education Programme. It illustrates that experiences including time spent as science learners in elementary and secondary classrooms, during volunteer experiences, gaining admission into a teacher education programme, interacting with experts in teaching methods, and immersion in the real-world teaching context of the classroom are powerful factors in teacher candidates’ PCK.

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