Connecting policy and practice to the construct of pedagogical content knowledge : listening to the voices of elementary teachers
Mahoney, Kirsten L.
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This study examines factors that prepare elementary teachers to teach science. The need for this study arose from a concern about the lack of science literacy in American students. An important factor in student science literacy is the science literacy and preparation of elementary teachers. Many components comprise what creates an effective teacher. In the area of science, elementary teachers must be knowledgeable about content, general pedagogy, science pedagogy, and students. These factors make up a teacher’s “pedagogical content knowledge” (PCK). This study investigates how preparation shapes teachers’ PCK. Focus groups and document analysis were conducted in this study. These qualitative research methods were chosen because each contributed to determining what teachers perceived helped prepare them to teach science both in their preparation programs and outside of their programs. This study suggested high teacher self-confidence in science results in more science being taught. This generates student interest and literacy in the field. Selfconfidence is linked with the construct of PCK. The PCK model suggests teachers with increased science PCK are more effective in the classroom. In order to enhance a teacher’s PCK, preparation programs must be reformed. Furthermore, this study discusses ways preparation programs and districts can help increase teachers’ science PCK.