Pedagogical Content Knowledge as a Way Forward: Applied Research in Chemistry Education

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As a result of research into students’ understandings, we have lists of studentmisconceptions, often accompanied by bland statements about preventative or curative actions. Wehave an enhanced knowledge of the conditions for effective learning, but little guidance as to how thisknowledge might be applied to the teaching of particular topics. Research has not had the impact onscience teaching that we might have hoped. Furthermore, science education research seems to belooking for direction. Much of chemical education research has used subject matter simply as avehicle to develop domain-independent pedagogical theory. Commenting on the criteria used forevaluation of teaching, Shulman (1986) asked “Where did the subject matter go?” Perhaps aproductive path for us to travel is what Shulman has labelled pedagogical content knowledge (PCK):knowledge about teaching and learning that takes into account the particular learning demands of thesubject matter. Science teaching is afflicted with ‘professional amnesia’ in the sense that theunderstandings that drive the strategies of competent teachers are seldom recorded, so new teachersgrow largely through experience. The chemical education enterprise is crying out for ‘appliedresearch’ that probes and documents the topic-specific PCK of respected teachers. Some examples ofresearch findings that support the claims are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-228
JournalChemistry Education Research and Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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