Name: Albert Stephens
ID #: ___________________
Title of essay: Read the case of the teacher Nancy that attached here as well. Evaluate the case and discuss the aspects of teacher knowledge evident in her teaching. Briefly discuss two insights you have developed from your reading and analysis of this article that can be incorporated in your teaching or plans for teaching.
Course Title: Overview of Foundations in Education
Course Code: EDPH5001
Title of Programme: Post Graduate Diploma in Education
School: University of the West Indies, Humanities and Education Faculty
Name of Lecturer: Marcia Rainford (PhD)
Date: Friday, February 23, 2018
In the case study of Nancy, a twenty-five year veteran English teacher, the expertise and wisdom possessed by this teacher denotes Lee Shulman’s foundation for teaching reform. Nancy’s depth of knowledge in the content area and her classroom management skills are apposite to the knowledge and teaching foundations. Pedagogical content knowledge is a practice-based theory that describes both the content and pedagogical knowledge involved in the teaching of a subject (Shulman, 1986, pg 8). Nancy demonstrates a skilful mastery in her area of specialization. She engages her students, manage their attitude towards work and allow them to work independently to demonstrate what they have learnt. She successfully created a framework which allowed her pupils to grasp the content she wishes to impart. This shows that Nancy was able to transform her knowledge through the use of pedagogical techniques, one of Schulman’s seven components of knowledge base for teaching. Schulman posits seven categories of knowledge base that teachers should possess; content knowledge, general pedagogical knowledge, curriculum knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, knowledge of the learner, knowledge of educational contexts and knowledge of educational ends (Shulman, 1986,pg 8).
Every teacher must be equipped with content knowledge. The teacher must know the ins and outs of whatever discipline they wish to pass on to their pupil. Teachers must have a framework of knowledge that allows for greater teaching and learning experience. In the case study of Nancy it is evident that she possessed the relevant content knowledge of the discipline she was instructing. Through her understanding of the material she was teaching, she was able to tailor the material to match the needs of her students. When a teacher understand the bases of the content that he or she wishes to impart then greater diversification of instructional methods may be employed. Content knowledge is the in-depth workings of a subject matter. It is more than just knowing something but fully comprehending a subject matter from a multifaceted perspective.
Content knowledge also incorporates belief in the subject matter being passed on. Some amount of passion must be possessed by the teacher acquiring content knowledge. Passion or belief in a subject matter allows for the individual to look objectively at the content from many perspectives rather than just gathering basic insight in a content area. Nancy’s ability to look at the material she was teaching through many different eyes shows her understanding of the subject matter.
Therefore content knowledge is one of the basic principles of teaching knowledge. Content knowledge may also be called the backbone of the teaching experience. The teacher must possess much more than just the basic understanding of a subject matter. He or she must conduct deep or in-depth study or studies of whatever content being passed on. This allows for greater autonomy in a subject matter. For example, “Nancy employed this conceptual framework in her teaching, using it to guide her own sequencing of material and formulation of questions. She taught the framework explicitly to her students over the semester, helping them employ it like a scaffolding to organize their own study of the text, to monitor their own thinking” (Shulman, 1986, pg 2).This excerpt from knowledge and Teaching by Lee Schulman (1986) shows that Nancy had true content knowledge. Through the framework she would have pulled on students’ prior learning and given them the tools to create new knowledge of concepts as they learned new material. Learning is individual, personal, dynamic and is based on topic and context. Nancy was able to connect with all these variables of learning. This reflects her own learning which enabled her to skilfully craft a learning guideline that could satisfy the individual and dynamic nature of each learner which was reflected in her many different methods of teaching.
Nancy does not only have content knowledge which allows her to provide working guidelines for her discipline but through her practice she has created a workable formula for teaching her content area which shows she also possess General Pedagogical Knowledge. This speaks to a teacher’s knowledge of the profession and how to use strategies to get different learners to grasp concepts and also dispel any misconceptions about the discipline. Pedagogical knowledge (PK) is the teacher’s deep understanding of the processes and practices or method of teaching and learning. It includes: understanding the nature of the students, having strategies for evaluating the students, understanding the cognitive, social and developmental theories of learning and how they apply to the students in the classroom (Koehler ; Mishra, 2009.
Some teachers only emphasise the subject matter when they teach. Others focus on the use of general pedagogical methods such as questioning techniques. However, recently scholars have recognised that both the subject matter knowledge and pedagogical knowledge are crucial to good teaching and student understanding. In fact, Shulman (1986) has suggested that teaching expertise should be described and evaluated in terms of pedagogical content knowledge. According to Shulman (1986), Pedagogical Content Knowledge represents the distinctive bodies of knowledge for teaching. It represents the blending of content and pedagogy into an understanding of how particular topics, problems, or issues are organized, represented, and adapted to the diverse interests and abilities of learners and presented for instruction. Lee Shulman (1986), an educator and researcher, noticed that all students need a teacher who is more than knowledgeable about their subjects. They also need one who can teach their specific subjects clearly and effectively. He called this combination of content and teaching knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge.
Teachers should posses the unique ability to dissect content and retrofit it to match the students they teach. This is an important aspect of teaching and learning as no two students will learn the same way. Therefore teaching and learning also has to take on a dynamic form. The teacher has to truly understand both the content of the discipline and the students he or she teachers. The teacher will have to learn how to properly manage a class effectively. This sets the tone for teaching to take place.
A class that is not governed by its teacher opens a door for instability and brings with it the demise of the teaching and learning process. It is therefore imperative to note that classroom management is a sub-branch of pedagogical content knowledge. The teacher need to posses the right strategies and skills to arrest and keep the attention of the students while developing the affective through means of appropriate class control. This was demonstrated in Nancy’s class time and time again.
The teacher needs to be equipped to deal with the different levels of learners within the classroom context. Thus a number of strategies should be employed when teaching.
Nancy was able to achieve this even on a day when she was ill. By employing the right tactics of cooperative leaning she was able to conduct a teaching and learning session that benefited her students even though she could not speak aloud to her class.
This show Nancy’s true pedagogical knowledge which enables better results in her pedagogical content knowledge. It is also important to note that pedagogical content knowledge is about getting the individual learner to form his or her own options of the subject matter taught. A skilful teacher knows how to manipulate content and guide students to higher order thinking. “She taught the framework explicitly to her students over the semester, helping them to employ it like a scaffolding to organize their own study of the texts, to monitor their own thinking (Shulman, 1986, pg 2).
Although as a teacher she maintained tight control of the classroom discourse, her goals were to liberate her students’ mind through literacy, eventually to use great works of literature to illuminate their own lives”. Teaching is not just passing on content it is the awakening of the inner man. A student has truly ‘learn’ when he or she is able to apply what was leant to his or her life.
Another aspect of pedagogical content knowledge is understanding the students perceptions
Pedagogical content knowledge requires an understanding of where students are coming from in reference to the subject being taught. This is so because in order to teach material well, teachers have to know what the students bring to the table as far as prior conceptions, feelings, and strategies. For example, many students tend to have personal thoughts about math word problems. A math teacher with pedagogical content knowledge would address each of these prior conceptions and show why each one is inaccurate. The teacher would help the students understand how to break down word problems to make them clearer and see them from a different perspective. If the students have certain strategies that they have been using, the teacher would want to know what those are, and how they might need to be changed. Teacher with pedagogical content knowledge must have a good grasp of which aspects of their subject are typically easy for students and which are typically more difficult. That way, they can create lesson plans that move through the easier material quickly and provide more time for the difficult subjects. This help student’s grasp the more difficult topics so they are better prepared to move forward (Darling-Hammond, L., & Baratz-Snowden, J. (2005), pg 17).
“Teacher should display familiarity with the curriculum material being used by students in other subjects they are studying at the same time” (Shulman, 1986). Another of Schulman’s concept on teacher knowledge is that of curriculum. Schulman describes that teacher’s knowledge on curriculum as lateral and vertical. Lateral curriculum shows the teachers ability to discuss matter relating to his or her subject area, which is also found in other disciplines. It is important for the teacher to understand the context and form of the subject matter her or she is teaching and should be able to defend its integration in other subject areas. “Gradient” a mathematics topic, is taught in math, physics, building construction and geography. A teacher of any of these disciplines should be able to relate and cross reference the content in their subject area as well as the others. Thus it is important for teachers to widen their knowledge base and employ a number of strategies which may lead to a simple truth. A lateral curriculum could also mean that what is studied in one particular course in an institution is in line with other, similar classes both in terms of course content and evaluation. Lateral coherence means that teachers are evaluating students based on the standards for a particular subject and grade level.
Vertical curriculum knowledge deals with topics and issues that have been and will be taught in the same subject area during the preceding and later years in school. A vertical curriculum links knowledge from one lesson to the next across a program of study. In a vertical curriculum, what is learned in one lesson prepares students for the next lesson. It establishes skills and knowledge which are used and further developed across a whole program of study. In this way, basic skills and knowledge are both developed and reinforced as other elements are introduced into study. This method of teaching is structured and progressive, focusing on building to advanced levels of knowledge.
Curriculum knowledge also speaks to meeting an agreed level of standard for the learner taking into consideration the resources available and to be able to meet the demands of the global society (Darling-Hammond, L., & Baratz-Snowden, J. (2005), pg 15). For example if jobs high demand are from the Business Process Outsourcing sector and economists forecasting that this will be the next big income generator for years to come, then a wise educational system would ensure the curriculum has content designed to meet the requisite skills and knowledge so students can benefit from this sector.
As a teacher of Mathematics and have read Nancy’s case I can in cooperate some of her general theological model in my lesson planning. Nancy break her reading skills into four levels and the teaching of Math is no exception; Level one for Math would include understanding the fundamental concepts of the topic such as the solving a Simultaneous Equation; Level two for Math would be developing students computational skills through drill and practice sessions; Level three would be use of knowledge, for example in a Simultaneous Equation we can use questions with all signs are positive or all signs are negative or both or we can change the variables. Students will be required to think beyond using their computational skills. Level four require application of knowledge and how we can use concepts to solve everyday problems. An excellent example of how Simultaneous Equation is applicable in real life is using it to reconstruct a crash site between two motor cars and actually tells who was wrong or right. Therefore Nancy’s general theological model is an excellent model it works well with my personal lessons.
I believe this paper written by Lee Shulman was well researched and I think he was one of the first researchers that conceptualised the idea of knowledge base, and defined the term pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). Lee Shulman organised everything about knowledge of teaching and learning in such a way that no one has viewed the teacher and the learner. The story of the teacher of literature Nancy was a perfect platform to showcase Schulman’s p seven categories of knowledge base that teachers should possess; content knowledge, general pedagogical knowledge, curriculum knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, knowledge of the learner, knowledge of educational contexts and knowledge of educational ends (Shulman, 1986,pg 8). In conclusion Lee Schulman’s seven categories of knowledge base on the learner and the teacher are applicable in today’s classroom.
Shulman, L (1986). Knowledge and Teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, Volume 57, No. 1. https://people.ucsc.edu/~ktellez/shulman.pdf
Darling-Hammond, L., ; Baratz-Snowden, J. (2005). A good teacher in every classroom. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ750647.pdf