Don’t just teach teachers how to teach — teach them how to teach PHYSICS

by Stephanie Chasteen on February 12, 2009

[Session:  Eugenia Etkina – Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK)]

There are some major problems with the current approach to teacher education in this country.  There is a strong sense that all you need to teach is to know the content.  That’s why a graduate student can get their PhD and then go on to teach as a tenured faculty for 30 years without ever having been taught how people learn. On the other hand, just because you’re a great, say, chemistry teacher, doesn’t mean that you would also be a great physics teacher.  This pedagogical knowledge is separate from this content knowledge.  Currently teachers in training get the pedagogical knowledge in a very general way in the school of education, and get their content knowledge in, for example, the physics department.

But what about the pedagogical knowledge that is specific to “how to teach that particular discipline”?  This is what is termed pedagogical content knowledge (or PCK). For example, the particular curriculum that is used for teaching the material, common student difficulties (like the tendency to mix up acceleration and velocity), the best way to teach a particular topic, and so forth.

{ 1 comment }

Zemenu Mihret November 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I have master of education (MEd) in physics. I am interested in the areas of physics education research especially conceptual understanding of students in different areas of physics and the role of hands-on and minds-on activities for physics learning. In addition, i am interested in content analysis of physics textbooks at different grade level.

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