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RESEARCH | Chemistry Education Research and Practice

The relationships between PCK components: the case of quantum chemistry professors
Kira Padillaa and Jan Van Drielb
Received 10th November 2010, Accepted 29th April 2011 DOI: The purpose of this paper is to capture the pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) of university professors about quantum chemistry. More specifically, we aimed to identify and analyze relationships between specific PCK components, using an adapted version of the model of PCK of Magnusson et al.. A sample of university professors (n=6) who teach quantum chemistry at undergraduate level was interviewed. Data analysis combined a quantitative and qualitative methodology. Relationships were found between components of the Magnusson model, in particular, between specific orientations to teaching science, and knowledge of instructional strategies. In addition, relationships were found between teachers’ knowledge of student learning, and their curriculum. In short, given their view that the learning of quantum chemistry presents many difficulties to students, most teachers combined a didactic view of teaching with an instructional approach focusing on problem solving. Taking the results of the study together, they explain what teachers do to teach quantum chemistry, and why, and therefore, the results help us to portray their PCK. Keywords: pedagogical content knowledge, quantum chemistry, university teachers, undergraduate chemistry education

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In research on science teaching, much attention has been paid to teachers’ knowledge and beliefs (Abell, 2007). However, most studies concerned primary and secondary teachers. Relatively little research has been done at the university level. The project reported in this paper concerns the knowledge and beliefs of university teachers about the teaching of quantum chemistry at the undergraduate level. This subject requires understanding of very abstract ideas and is thus notoriously difficult to learn and understand for students (Warren, 1974; Jones, 1991; Ireson, 1999). It is a subject that plays a major role in chemistry curricula over the world, and it has a large impact on study success and future careers in chemistry. University professors who teach this subject are usually researchers with much expertise in the subject, but not in education. In this context, we were interested to investigate the pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) of teaching this difficult subject, and how teachers try to promote students’ understanding of it. In particular, we wanted to investigate what relations exist between their knowledge of instruction, assessment, curriculum and student learning concerning this subject. Relations between these PCK components have been rarely studied (Friedrichsen et al., 2011); a notable exception is Kaya, (2009).
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Facultad de Química. e-mail: b University of Leiden, ICLON, The Netherlands. e-mail:

Pedagogical content knowledge Since Shulman (1986) wrote the first definition of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), many researches related to this subject have been conducted (Smith et al., 1989; Kagan, 1990; Briscoe, 1991; Carlsen, 1993; GessNewsome et al., 1993; Zuzovsky, 1994; Geddis, 1996; Adams et al., 1997; Kennedy, 1998; Bond-Robinson, 2005; Park et al., 2008). Some studies were focused on categorizing the knowledge that should be included in PCK (Cochran et al., 1993; Stengel, 1997; Magnusson et al., 1999; Hasweh, 2005). Others were more focused on trying to identify how teachers’ PCK is being developed (Clermont et al., 1993; Geddis, 1993; Lederman et al., 1994; van Driel et al., 1998; Loughran et al., 2004; Goodnough et al., 2006; Major et al., 2006; Nilsson, 2008). In addition, some studies have been conducted on the relationship between PCK and subject matter knowledge, SMK (McEwan et al., 1991; Foss et al., 1996; Geddis et al., 1997; Kahan et al., 2003; Garritz et al., 2006; Padilla, et al., 2008). Shulman’s proposal of what a teacher should know was focused on the ‘knowledge base’, which was considered to consist of seven components: i) Content knowledge (or subject matter knowledge, SMK), ii) general pedagogical knowledge, iii) curriculum knowledge, iv) pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), v) knowledge of learners and their characteristics, vi) knowledge of educational context, vii) knowledge of educational ends, purposes, and values, and their philosophical and historical backgrounds (Shulman, 1987). In this first classification of the
Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2011, 12, 367–378 | 367

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they are primarily researchers. explanations. examples. In the science education community. the most useful forms of representation of those ideas. In particular. illustrations. the authors don’t mention relationships between B) – E). In Shulman and Magnusson’s proposal. Magnusson et al. which implies that teacher must know about misconceptions. and 7) pedagogical knowledge and beliefs. but are not part of it. learning processes. difficulties. Hashweh proposed seven categories into which he classified what he called pedagogical constructions (TPC): 1) subject matter knowledge. The question what kind of knowledge should be included in that amalgam has been the main focus of many following researches (Cochran et al. etc. 8). which is absent in Hashweh’s proposal. B) Knowledge of science curricula. the latter includes assessment. This author claimed that PCK is a collection of smaller knowledge entities that he called pedagogical constructions. they often do this in the same way in which they were taught. Although these PCK components comprise almost all knowledge that teachers should have to teach science. Shulman also wrote about PCK that “[it] embodies the dimensions of content most germane to its teachability… [it includes] the most regularly taught topics in one’s subject area. These authors claimed that PCK is “a teacher’s understanding of how to help students to understand one specific subject matter (p. pedagogical content knowledge was defined by Shulman (1987) as: “pedagogical content knowledge is that special amalgam of content (SMK) and pedagogy that is uniquely the province of teachers. As stated above. their own special form of professional understanding” (p. 2006.” (p. and as such. 277). 5) knowledge of context. concerning the subject they teach. in a word. 278).rsc. sees SMK as an influence on PCK.1039/C1RP90043A 368 | Chem.96)”. or should be. Also. Gil.. 2011. ii) The most powerful representations of this SMK. In this proposal the last four components are all interrelated with the first one. (1999). 1997. in all these three models of PCK. Educ. that is. whereas Magnusson et al. Only few of them have taken university professors as their object of study (Goodnough.. 1999. Magnusson et al. A lot of PCK studies are focused on secondary school. 1986. We considered that this model gives a comprehensive view of the knowledge that science teachers need to have to teach subject matter effectively. 3) curricular knowledge. When they have to teach. At least.. Hashweh’s PCK proposal is very similar to the one of Magnusson et al. Major and Palmer. 4) knowledge of resources. 12. p. who claimed that university teachers often have developed specific ideas and conceptions about how university teaching is. Pract. which is a collection of teacher pedagogical constructions. which implies that teachers must have some knowledge about how the subject they are teaching has evolved in two ways. purposes and philosophy. 367–378 This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2011 .. (1999) did not include pedagogical knowledge (PK) nor subject matter knowledge (SMK) per se in their PCK model. D) Knowledge of assessment of scientific literacy. of students. they consider both PK and SMK as separate forms of knowledge that are source for the development of PCK. subject matter knowledge is different from PCK but influences it.View Online knowledge base. high school and pre-service teachers. and demonstrations. the most powerful analogies. pedagogical knowledge and knowledge about the context. The most important of these sources are the other general categories of teacher knowledge and beliefs—knowledge of subject matter. which plays an important role in the proposal of Magnusson et al. whereas in Hashweh’s proposal SMK is part of PCK. PCK has five components: A) Orientation towards teaching science. According to Campanario. In their paper about chemistry teachers’ knowledge base De Jong et al. Another proposal of what PCK should be was elaborated by Hashweh (2005). 1993. one PCK proposal that has been used as a model to portray teachers’ PCK was elaborated by Magnusson et al. 9). According to these authors. and also to Shulman’s components of the knowledge base. 1991). Hashweh considers SMK as part of | doi:10. However. Hasweh. these teachers usually do not have a strong pedagogical background.. (2002) remarked the importance to develop Downloaded on 10 September 2011 Published on 17 August 2011 on http://pubs. 2005). This author stated that “PCK represents personal and private knowledge” (p. 2) aims. (1999) described PCK as the knowledge that is acquired after a transformation from various sources of knowledge: subject matter knowledge. they are experts in the subject they teach. Here Shulman was saying that PCK involves three main things: i) The subject matter knowledge. C) Knowledge of students’ understanding of science. Padilla. These are developed through experience and when a teacher tries to answer a set of questions to which “[t]he teacher draws on many sources of knowledge for answering such questions. assessment and other categories. In the present research we decided to take Magnusson’s proposal of PCK as a starting point. Shulman defined PCK as a separate component within the knowledge base.. the ways of representing and formulating the subject that make it comprehensible to others…[…] An understanding of what makes the learning of specific topics and preconceptions that students of different ages and backgrounds bring with them to the learning of those most frequently taught topics and lessons” (Shulman. However. leading to student learning. The combination of these three main sources leads to the formation of pedagogical content knowledge. Magnusson et al. theoretical and educational (Shulman. subject matter knowledge is an important source of knowledge that should be considered when PCK is studied. at least that knowledge which could be most relevant to teach to students of a certain age and level. we were interested to include teachers’ knowledge about assessment of student learning in our investigation. five of these components are similar to the PCK components proposed by Magnusson et al. 1986. however. et al. 2006. 2008). 6) knowledge and beliefs about learning and learners. iii) Knowledge about student understanding. So. pedagogy. and E) Knowledge of instructional strategies. Res. Stengel. The necessity to study the pedagogical ideas and training of university professors was pointed out by Campanario (2002).

Procedure We designed a set of questions related to basic concepts that are taught in quantum chemistry courses. 367–378 | 369 Method Sample As we have said before. 2005). and the interviews (which lasted 30-90 minutes) were recorded. Knowledge of students’ understanding of science. and teacher’s knowledge of instructional strategies (E) (see Fig. orientations have nine subcomponents. For the purpose of this study. chemistry laboratory (Hofstein et al. and a second one was made by a research assistant who was not an expert in Chem. chemistry. This table was developed by the authors by interpreting and discussing the content of the fragments of each interview. transcribed and analyzed. which consisted of the following steps. These concepts are: atom model.. Fragments consisted of one or several lines that concerned the same issue or topic. One first code analysis was made by the first author. The groups consist of 25 to 30 students and just some of them have what they call ‘lab work and workshops’. and chemical reaction (Reyes and Garritz. Knowledge of science curricula. amount of substance (Padilla. What do you do to help your students to understand this concept? b. Could you tell how wave-particle duality was developed in the history of science? Do you pay attention to this historical development in your lessons? The first author interviewed each teacher individually. Educ.. assessment just has two. As an example. To preserve their anonymity we will use masculine pseudonymous. that is. this code scheme was applied to all the interview data. E. Pract. 2006). and atomic orbital. there was just one woman. Bucat. each interview was broken into different fragments (from 36 to 94). some classes where students could carry out quantum calculations and solve exercises and problems. specifically those who teach quantum chemistry at the Bachelor’s level. All of them teach very similar groups of students. Almost all were men.. Padilla et al.). the interviews were transcribed in full and the first author read the transcripts repeatedly to get an overview of the interviews.rsc. Analysis The analysis process followed a systematic procedure. for example. we contacted ten teachers from different universities in the Netherlands. Second. Orientation towards teaching science. Do you create a relationship among this topic and something related to students’ daily life? (If the answer was no: Do you think there is a way to make that link?) d. Res. Table 1 was developed as our coding scheme. we selected those subcomponents that are predominant at university level1. After several iterations. teacher’s knowledge of science curriculum (B). teacher’s knowledge of students’ understanding of science (C). B. 2004. and then comparing fragments from different interviews to identify similar issues. What kind of connections can be found between these PCK components? a.View Online chemistry teachers’ SMK and PCK “in an integrated manner”. the main aim of this research is to study the PCK of university teachers. which were then labeled with the same code. we started with Magnusson’s model of PCK which consists of five components related to: orientations towards teaching science (A). Knowledge of instructional strategies) 2. These teachers have taught Quantum Chemistry at university level from 2 to 25 years and are experts in the subject. Almost all of them are from Magnusson’s model and some others have been added. 2004. The present study will focus on the teaching of quantum chemistry at university level.1039/C1RP90043A Research questions In order to elicit PCK about quantum chemistry from university teachers. In Magnusson’s model each component is divided into different subcomponents. 1). we present below the questions that we asked about wave-particle duality: 1. What kind of understanding of what a wave-particle duality means do you think your students could have (from a scientific point of view) after taking this course? Which do you think those ideas are? e.. Six of them answered positively. When you do your class planning what kind of strategies do you use to catch students’ interest? (If teachers didn’t mention something about the relationship between the concept and students’ daily life. These subcomponents are described in detail in Table 1.. In the next step. 12. et al. that is. the interview fragments mentioned earlier. What kind of understanding of what wave-particle duality means do you think your students could have before they take this course? How do you know that? This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2011 . 2003. Downloaded on 10 September 2011 Published on 17 August 2011 on http://pubs. The interview started with one question about the knowledge teachers have about students’ previous knowledge. physical and organic chemistry (Treagust et | doi:10.. wave-particle duality. etc. teacher’s knowledge of assessment in science (D). BondRobinson. 2003. from the first or second year of a chemistry degree course (chemistry engineering. What is the content of the PCK components of experienced university teachers of quantum chemistry? (A. For this purpose. The set of questions were related to components of the PCK model. C. we set out the following research questions: 1. question c was asked) c. and this would be particularly important for university professors. First. Next. Knowledge of assessment of scientific literacy. D. What kind of strategies do you use to check students’ understandings of this/the intended concept? f. 1994). to develop a coding scheme. 2008). Studies on teaching chemistry at the university level have focused on the following subjects: chemical demonstrations (Clermont. 2011. 2004). in English.

367–378 This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2011 .. Example from interviews “I do talk about quite a bit of the mysteries of quantum mechanics. and also I stress a lot that it is an unfinished theory. and the corresponding electron density. Table 1 Components and subcomponents of PCK used in this research Orientations toward teaching Science (A) Orientation Process Code Definition A1 Teacher introduces students to the thinking process employed by scientists.” “Of course.1039/C1RP90043A Which shapes Knowledge of science curricula Knowledge of assessment of scientific literacy Knowledge of students’ understanding of science Knowledge of instructional strategies Fig.. I provide them with a lot of exercises. to solve a simple system such as a particle in a box. I try to make them curious and I try to say things that cannot be true and then talk about that” Academic rigor A2 Students are challenged with difficult problems and activities. 1 Components of pedagogical content knowledge for science teaching.. Teacher facilitates discussion and debates necessary to establish valid knowledge.View Online PCK includes Orientation to teaching Science Downloaded on 10 September 2011 Published on 17 August 2011 on http://pubs. [.” “I try to explain of what a particle is. Model proposed by Magnusson et al. If we are talking about the first year freshmen course. 12. especially at the beginning. some of the excitement of the discoveries.rsc. I talk about the people of quantum mechanics. [Students have] to get used with wave function and to the probability density.” “I try to make them curious. Then I focus on a couple of things that [show].org | doi:10. Pract. I try to tell some historical anecdotes. Didactics A3 Teacher presents information through lecture or discussion. the diffraction of waves to deduce of these experiments. OK you can have interference so they also interact with each other in a certain way.] then I spend some time on the waves. and questions directed.. which all we know. Lab work and demonstrations show the relationship between concepts and phenomena. Res. 2011. So. Activity-driven A5 Students participate in ‘hands-on’ activities used for “We try to make the quantum world alive by a lot of paper and pencil verification or discovery. actually they have to do calculations on paper to write on the wave functions. 1999. Educ. Conceptual change A4 Students are pressed for their views about the world and consider the adequacy of alternative explanations. work and in the computer lab we visit a web site that is used to help students to visualize [models]” 370 | Chem. I try to give them perspectives on how unusual this development has been and what a great achievement.

” “…I have tried to out the whole course a kind of red line which I follow. visualization tools. learning to cycle) Topic specific representations (e. three or four lectures ago to see if they have acquired that knowledge[…] I try they go to steps where we are on this map to get our final goal. examples. PRINCALS is essentially the same as Principal Components Analysis in that it allows This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2011 calculating loadings for variables as well as scores for individual objects or persons. but who specializes on education research methodology. […] I ask crossed references back two.” “I try to make connections back to their models and try to outline what is not complete in the relational model. we computed the relative frequencies of each subcomponent per interview. It is a new world to them for most of them and you cannot expect them to reach a similar fast progression in understanding concept as they do it with for example classical mechanics” “I think they have some notions of general chemistry. in essence they have seen the atoms. All statistical analyses were performed using SPSS software. version 14. We have been looking into graphical interface as a main tools that can help to visualize these concepts. and then I ask crossed references back two. but of course we do emphasize that it is a key point you have to be able to do it. cannot test everything” Knowledge of instructional strategies (E) Strategies that are more general and could be used to teach almost any subject.1 [Note that in this version. It is a key ingredient and I try they go to steps where we are on this map to work out our final goal. calculate something but there are also parts of questions which are there to check the concepts.rsc. exercises [with a step by step explanation] that help to solve a problem. “I think they heard about Bohr’s model in high school. models.g. available states…” “The combination of proper theoretical regard with visualization and computer lab can be a very positive strategy for interest them” E1 E2 E3 Topic specific activities (e. prior to PRINCALS introduction data. problems. 2011. what does it mean to have a superposition. 367–378 | 371 . assigning a value if subcomponents appeared once. 12. The Chem.. quantum particles. what they mean” C2 Knowledge of areas of students’ difficulty C3 Beliefs about what students know or don’t. PRINCALS is part of the optimal scaling techniques as ‘Categorical Principal Components (CatPCA)’. abilities and skills to learn that concept and alternative conceptions Variations in students approaches or views Science concepts or topics that students find difficult to learn (abstract or lack any connection to students’ common experience) or nonintuitive. delocalization. demonstrations. twice or three times on specific fragments. 3]. Teachers beliefs related to that knowledge that he/she assumes or believes that students have or don’t.” B2 B3 Downloaded on 10 September 2011 Published on 17 August 2011 on http://pubs. see also SPSS Inc. or they should learn Knowledge of dimensions of science learning to assess Knowledge of methods of assessment Knowledge of subject-specific strategies Knowledge of topic-specific strategies C4 Knowledge of assessment in Science (D) D1 Those concepts that are important or not to assess “I don’t think it is necessary to test the atomic model in such as sense at the exam” D2 What kind of strategies teachers use to assess “I did test through exercises I’ve given them the opportunity to prove that students’ understanding or those [ideas] that they they know it. It was decided to delete those subcomponents with low frequencies (< 3%). they have seen the spherical harmonics. we don’t spend too much time in doing complicated derivations. Knowledge of curriculum and materials related to the subject they teach and others related to this. 1990).g..” “Once you are at the university and take quantum mechanics for the first time you really open this Pandora’s box. as much as possible. or experiments) quantum chemistry. “In the book there are some numbers of exercises in the back. A data matrix was introduced into PRINCALS to reduce data and to identify relationships among subcomponents. of course I can not force them because in the exam you consider are not so good. both with respect to the same dimensions ( | doi:10. 1985. 2004: chap. or that knowledge that teachers think students should learn.1039/C1RP90043A Teachers’ knowledge of specific curricular programs Knowledge of requirements for learning B4 Students’ knowledge acquired in previous courses or what they should learn in this or the next courses... The PRINCALS methodology was used to explore the relationships between different subcomponents for each teacher. the shapes of them so they have some the wave concept of atomic orbital. analogies) “Very often in the lecture I explain a concept and some practical results come up with them. Pract. Educ. and the codes were compared and discussed until agreement was reached. simulations. To each fragment 1 to 4 codes were assigned.. “In essence. Res.” Knowledge of students’ understanding of science (C) C1 Prerequisite. (e. three or four lectures ago to see if they have acquired that knowledge” “I try to use. illustrations. In the next step.View Online Table 1 Continued Knowledge of science curriculum (B) Orientation Teachers’ knowledge of goals and objectives Code Definition B1 Teachers’ ideas of students’ goals to learn that subject Teachers’ goals and guidelines across topics Example from interviews “If you do not understand this concept you cannot possible hope to understand chemical bonding.

These arrows have two specific characteristics: first the longer they are. the more interrelated they are. Thomas c. 2 Teachers’ PCK relationships obtained from the PRINCALS analysis. 372 | Chem. Res. With this information we could make a specific analysis of each graph. the better they fit in the general solution. results from each teacher were compared and discussed. Educ.View Online Downloaded on 10 September 2011 Published on 17 August 2011 on http://pubs. Philip f. Finally..1039/C1RP90043A a. Paul e. Peter b. where those subcomponents that appeared in the interview are shown as arrows. Pract. 2011. second. information retrieved from PRINCALS is basically one graph for each interview. Iacobus Fig. which means that they have a high correlation. 12. Matthew d. the smaller the angle between | doi:10. 367–378 This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2011 .rsc. and found clusters of two or more interrelated subcomponents that characterized a teacher’s PCK.

which emphasizes presenting information during lectures. for instance. only 36 fragments). 2. which relates his didactic orientation with what he knows about concepts or ideas that students find difficult to learn. I think (C4) they know these strange shapes. specifically General Chemistry. demonstrations. These data show three pairs of subcomponents that belong to the same component.a) a clear correlation among the following pairs of subcomponents: B3-C4. Thomas doesn’t seem to relate his ideas about student learning and understanding. Matthew The interview of Matthew was divided into 72 fragments. The other relationship that Peter is showing is A3-C3. and that’s the main reason he believes that students know something about it. where A2 is one of the orientations this teacher adopts. in his case. in practice he seems to use many simulations. this pair has a very good correlation. or instructional strategies explicitly with each other. However.rsc. assessment.. In this research other teachers show this kind of relationship as well. we discuss each teacher’s case individually. 12. A3-E2 and A3-C3.e. nor with his dominant orientation (A3. but has a good correlation and frequency. Here is an example of what Peter said concerning this pair: “I know what is. because these ideas are different from the accepted scientific models. These three components are all related to students’ learning: knowledge about what students learned in previous courses (B3). which means that despite Peter expressing the A3 orientation. Peter has rather traditional views of teaching and challenges students with problems and other activities. and high frequency. and the PCK ideas were not so abundant. Thomas was the only one with this cumulus (B3-C1-C4). have a good correlation. knowledge about what is prerequisite to take the course (C1). The pair B3-C4 seems a quite logical | doi:10.. simulations or experiments). and E2. how I teach the concept. around 30 min. These components seem to be quite related.” The next pair is A2-D2. but I assume that they have more or less the fake ideas that were taught in high school (C4). In this case. One example of this pair is: “I look at the Hamiltonian.. There is one cumulus here B3-C1-C4. The next pair is A3-E2 where A3 refers to the didactic orientation toward teaching. What is interesting about Thomas is that his PCK doesn’t show a clear relationship between subcomponents of different components. The following phrase about orbitals is an example of this: “They all have seen them before in previous classes (B4). In summary. The relationship between these two subcomponents is high. Educ. this teacher shows (see graph 2. From the analysis we obtained the graph (2. and his beliefs about what students should or shouldn’t know (C4). The first pair we found in Matthew’s interview is B4-C4. or good frequency. what is talked in high school (B3).View Online Results In Fig. which means that he believes in teaching through different activities or problems that force students to think about the relationships between concepts and phenomena. however. a good frequency. the frequencies of these pairs are shown in Table 2. He is concerned about students’ previous ideas. I look at the system and I say this is complicated (C3) with this electron interaction and I break up in simpler particle Hamiltonians (A3) they are hydrogen like… This is how I come to the. by using of a lot of problems. because B3 is related to what teachers know about what students have learned in their previous courses. as we can see in Table 2 (i. and C4 is related to teachers’ beliefs about what students should know or should learn. This pair concerns the relationship between Matthew’s knowledge about curriculum and materials (B4). A2-D2. however. which relates to topic-specific teaching activities (problems. Thomas The interview with Thomas was divided into 46 fragments. Paul and Thomas also mentioned the relationship B3-C1. The same applies to two components that belong to assessment (D1D2) and to two that belong to instructional strategies (E2E3). I think (C4) they also know that there are core electrons and valence electrons…” In the phrase above Matthew is talking about some concepts that he thinks students have studied in previous courses.1039/C1RP90043A good fit. These six pairs are also shown in Table 2.b) where we got the principal pairs of subcomponents.e. we show the graphs of every teacher from the PRINCALS analysis. Chem. which concerns the way he evaluates his students. Following this. demonstrations or problems to promote students’ comprehension of scientific ideas. After qualitative analysis prior to PRINCALS.” In summary. to D2. and Iacobous. Peter related academic rigor. rather short arrows). and correlation.c) was obtained. Res. Peter Peter’s interview was short. 367–378 | 373 . Pract. didactic). 2011. more or less. but apparently they are not as important as in this case. B3 doesn’t have a good fit. two components that belong to the teacher’s knowledge of students’ understanding (C1-C4) have a very This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2011 Table 2 Pairs related to each teacher and their frequencies of interrelation Peter Thomas Matthew A3-C3 2 C1-C4 7 A3-D2 5 A2-D2 2 C1-C4-B3 4 A2-E1 2 A3-E2 2 D1-D2 3 A2-E3 2 B3-C4 2 E2-E3 3 B3-C1 4 B4-C4 5 E1-E3 3 Paul A2-E3 7 B3-C1 4 B2-D1 3 C3-D2 2 Philip A3-C1 3 A2-E1-E3 4 A2-E3 3 B4-C1 3 B1-C3 2 E1-E3 5 E2-E3 4 Iacobous A3-E3 4 B3-C1 3 B4-C4 5 Downloaded on 10 September 2011 Published on 17 August 2011 on http://pubs. graph (2. which revealed at least six pairs of subcomponents which comply with at least two of three conditions to be considered: fit well in the whole solution. Matthew. but not such a good fit (i. especially what they learned at high schools. and what a teacher thinks students should know or learn (C4).

where each arrow has very good fit. A2 is ‘Academic Rigor’. This has a good correlation. I think that it is what basically they have from high school (B3). A2-E1). In this case. These are: A2-E3. but at the same time. E3) and checking if they have understood the key concepts…” The second pair is B3-C1. long arrows). talked about academic rigor related to different strategies to improve students’ comprehension. two components with related content: B3 that refers to students’ knowledge acquired in previous courses and C1 that addresses the prerequisite. PRINCALS resulted in figure (2. these two subcomponents are also related to Matthews’ orientation to teaching.” In the analysis of Matthew’s interview appeared three further pairs of components that showed a good correlation (E1-E3). 367–378 This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2011 . A3 refers to teachers’ orientation. Philip Philip’s interview was classified into 72 fragments that were analyzed in a qualitative way before the data matrix Downloaded on 10 September 2011 Published on 17 August 2011 on http://pubs. These last two pairs were identified in Philip’s interview as well. The connection between these subcomponents means that the teacher is aware of the previous curriculum and how this is related to the ideas that could be useful as learning tools to build the framework knowledge. but its frequency is slightly less than the others. specifically the ‘Didactic’ one.1039/C1RP90043A 374 | Chem. Matthew talked about to assess (or to check) students’ understanding during the lecture by asking students about the concepts. We obtained 94 fragments to be classified. which in this case is the knowledge or ideas that the teacher considers important (or not) to evaluate. like some of the other teachers. The first pair of components is A2-E3.c. B2-D1. where we can see four important pairs of components.rsc. This pair has. in fact. which could mean that with different words.e.) that a teacher could use during his lecture. Res. Matthew seems to have a ‘didactic’ orientation (A3). and a good fit in the whole solution. and some times you notice that they did not understand it at all.e. Matthew. In Matthew’s case there was a good fit and frequency. 12. 2011. and providing them challenging exercises (A2. because in both students have to solve difficult problems to improve their understanding. etc. B3-C1. At the same time. that is. So. a pair that appeared in Paul’s interview as well. he never said that he would use a different strategy to make students comprehend the concepts. it is the nucleus as a sun with electrons as a planets running around in orbits (C1). which means that students should be challenged to answer difficult problems and questions. and then you stop a while then you ask a question about it to check (D2). We think that the relationship between these two components is quite clear. Finally.” The next pair we found in this interview was B3-C1. and/or have a high frequency of interrelation (see Table 2). so in that sense it is not entirely new when they come here (C1). relatively high frequency. Matthew explained this relationship in the following quote: “[They] have to calculate wavelengths and […] have particles serve by dots in a phosphorous screen (E3) […] for them at the beginning is not a big mystery until we really explain to them that this is really strange. Academic Rigor (A2). We force them to think about it and then you see they get confused (A2)”. as well as alternative ideas. with his assessment strategies.. It relates the teachers’ goals and guidelines across topics (B2) to the assessment process (D1). demonstrations. They also discuss the Bohr model. Instead. In this way he could check if the concepts were being understood or not. fit well in the whole solution (i. C3-D2 relates the knowledge that the teacher has about ideas or concepts that are difficult (C3) for students to the knowledge of methods of assessment (D2). but the related frequencies are lower than for B2-D1. which concerns previous knowledge). The following phrase is an example: “Sometimes you explain something (A3). These subcomponents are related to the orientation toward teaching (A2) and topic specific strategies (E3) (problems. Paul Paul’s interview was the longest and most informative. Paul has a view of teaching that emphasizes challenging students to solve difficult problems. he related his own beliefs about what students know (or not) in relation to his own knowledge about the curriculum. An illustrative statement from the interview was: “…the combination of direct interaction with students. First of all. In addition. In summary.d). you have to start again and try to explain in a different way (A3). the last pair is C3-D2. All these pairs fulfill at least two of the following conditions: good correlation (i. In summary. Both subcomponents are linked with the kind of strategies used by the teacher to make the subject more comprehensible to students. The B3-C1 pair is formed by what we think are very close components. the misconceptions that could be an obstacle to get a good learning process: “Some [students] have mini term solar system in mind (C1. and C3-D2.” The third pair is B2-D1. The following is a clear example of what we are talking about: “I think they heard about Bohr model in high school (B3). If they have any model atom. in this case E1 and E3. and how these affects students’ learning. small angles). skills and alternative conceptions that students could have. emphasizing the importance of explaining subject matter and checking understanding. Pract. as we have said previously. or a relatively good fit (A2-E3. first of | doi:10. abilities. which has a good correlation and fit. there is a relationship between two subcomponents that belong to the same component. As can be seen in graph 2. Also. Paul is able to relate the goals of his course and his own ideas related to students’ difficulties. D2 concerns the kind of strategies used by the teacher to assess students’ understanding. Educ. He is aware of previous ideas that students could have. even a little bit of quantum mechanics very basic.View Online The next pair was not observed in any other teacher: A3D2. he just said that he tried to explain concepts in a different way.

View Online was introduced in the PRINCALS program. etc. Iacobous: “…they know the concept of atomic orbitals and they have seen all these balloons of the p. In summary. He considers various kinds of strategies that allow students. simulations. B4-C1.” I: “they are quite familiar with the idea or with the visualization of what an atomic orbital is?” Iacobous: “yea! I think the visualization. 367–378 | 375 .e) where we got three clusters of interrelated subcomponents: A2-E3-E1. Iacobous appeared to be a very particular teacher. are really the mathematical expression of those representations that they have visualized in previous courses as orbitals. Iacobous related students’ knowledge acquired in previous courses to what he saw as alternative conceptions. which are developed in class. Three pairs of interrelated subcomponents were identified. Iacobous Iacobous’ interview was classified into 51 fragments that were analyzed in a qualitative way prior to performing PRINCALS. one electron wave function or state function and then for the hydrogen atom I show them that they look like as the pictures they have seen (E3). by active participation. etcetera. 12. At the same time he is aware of students previous’ ideas and relates this to his own knowledge about the curriculum. and the d. how to solve problems (E3).” The last pair of interrelated subcomponents is B1-C3. The next statement is an example of what Iacobous said about this relationship during the interview. so every one can really contribute to this practical session. The combination A2-E3 appeared in Paul’s interview as well. because A2 reflects an orientation towards teaching focused on problem solving and lab work (‘Academic rigor’). which permits teacher to choose strategies aimed to promote students’ comprehension of abstract ideas. demonstrations. exercises. as we can see in the sentence below where Philip is talking about these two components: “I think that at very basic levels one needs to combine the traditional theoretical lecture also with computer lab. hybridization (B3). He explained that this approach helps students to go further in what they can understand of what quantum chemistry is. imaginary object and matrices (C1). which shows the relationship between teachers’ ideas about goals and what he knows about students’ difficulties. 2011. so.1039/C1RP90043A This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2011 Chem.. basically. This same pair was found in Matthew’s interview with the same frequency. on the blackboard. Philip commented on this relationship during the interview as follows: “They [students] have to show. but may not. In Philip’s case we found one cumulus of three interrelated subcomponents: A2-E1-E3. the criterion for mentioning a cluster is that they should fit well in the solution (long arrow length) or have a good correlation (small angle). that is. when he was talking about atomic orbitals: “They have learnt the concept already in the first year (B4). I’m teaching in the second year and in the first year they already know it (C4). The one with the highest frequency is B4-C4. s. Actually. The frequency of this cumulus is 4. is linked with the knowledge about curriculum and materials (B4). Res. and a high frequency of occurring together in fragments in the interview (Table 2). In this case. they even know about orbitals. The second pair is A3-E3 which relates the ‘Didactic orientation’ to ‘Topic specific activities’ as problems. they have heard about k. not just the teacher in front and solving the problem for them” (A2) In addition. Philip’s ideas about teaching focus on academic rigor. From this analysis we obtained the graph (2. he combines this deep level approach with a strong didactic orientation.rsc. which has a very good correlation and fit. graph (2. previously he had said that he did not discuss the Bohr model because his aim is that students would “get the complete quantum mechanical treatment”. Iacobous referred to different topic teaching strategies and he said that students should realize that all mathematical procedures. B1-C3. E1 and E3 refer to teaching strategies that are related to one orientation: ‘academic rigor’. which was also found in the analysis of the interviews of Matthew. Besides. One example of what Iacobous said about this is: “…they have heard about the Bohr model. you could call that the model that they bring to the course (C1)” In this way.f) was obtained. Pract.” The third pair is B3-C1. he is assuming that students have already learned this concept. They get it without quantum mechanics. l. B4 concerns the teacher’s knowledge about curriculum and materials. One interesting thing that he used to do is make students think about some philosophical aspects related to the subject. It seems that he Downloaded on 10 September 2011 Published on 17 August 2011 on http://pubs. In summary. exercises (A2)… the combination with visualization and computer lab can be a very positive strategy (E1) for their interest” Another pair is formed by B4-C1. to improve their comprehension of the subject. and C1 shows the teacher’s knowledge about students’ prior knowledge and alternative conceptions. We think that it is quite logical that teachers’ beliefs about the knowledge that students should have (C4). Paul and Thomas. The relationship is illustrated in the following quote from Philip’s interview: “I think mathematics should be taught at a good level at the very beginning in the first year (B4) in order to prepare the student also to deal with differential equations. OK. it is even called chemical bonding. Educ. A2-E1 shows that lab work or solving problems could be used as general teaching strategies. This relation is quite consistent with what is being evaluated. yea! They feel quite familiar with the idea that there are atomic orbitals. m shields. From this analysis.” In the sentence above Iacobous is showing that he has knowledge about the curriculum and about the subjects that are related to the ones he is teaching. and E3 reflects the instructional strategies using principally problems. I told them that this comes from wave function (A3).org | doi:10. p orbitals. their frequencies are shown in Table 2. As stated before. simulations or experiments. Interestingly.

as we know. teachers try to have their students solve some challenges. The second orientation was prominent.1039/C1RP90043A Fig. A general view of teachers’ profile is showed in Fig. and they consider this subject to be quite complicated for students. Philip explained he splits up his course into three parts. Another case of relating knowledge of student understanding to the structure of the curriculum was Paul. Iacobous. Friedrichsen et al. The first part is the introductory course where he will explain new ideas and concepts. that is. these teachers seem to have almost identical views on what is important and what is unimportant. All of them teach the same subject. in this case it didn’t get much attention. Paul discussed with his students how they understood the ideas.View Online 60 percentage of answers 50 40 30 20 10 0 A B C D E PCK's general categories Peter Thomas Matthew Paul Philiph Iacobous Downloaded on 10 September 2011 Published on 17 August 2011 on http://pubs. When we look closer at the assessment component (D). a traditional paper-and-pencil test. 12. one in the middle and one at the end. because teachers consider it important that students learn to solve problems to help them understand the subject. The most prominent orientations (A2. to knowledge of science curriculum (teachers’ goals and guidelines across topics) and to knowledge of students’ understanding of science (knowledge of students’ difficulties). he shows some videos to students. The third part is a lab session. Thus. Looking at relationships between PCK elements. because many university teachers seem to think that assessment is simply about testing students’ knowledge through a final exam. After showing the videos. which was evident in the interviews of Paul. (2011) consider both didactics and academic rigor as teacher-centered orientations. there are some parallels between them. we found that some appeared in two or three of the teachers. Philiph and Matthew’s interviews. so teachers tend to think that thorough and careful explanation is required during lectures. Educ. however. it appears to be related to orientations (academic rigor and didactic).rsc. does not use models and visualizations. where some abstract ideas like wave-particle duality are explained in different ways. initially. however. the main difference between these two is that a didactic orientation concerns a very traditional way of teaching that pays very little attention to student learning. It is possible that our teachers did not consider student learning in relation to students’ evaluation. C3). which is held twice during the semester. that although teachers have different ‘pictures’ of their PCK. and it may require strategies that are different from the typical examinations. however. To us. C. We think that it is important to conduct more research on the role of assessment. From this graph it is apparent that assessment (D) is much less considered. problems. 3 Frequencies showed by teachers for general categories. curriculum and instructional strategies. In academic rigor. The latter knowledge subcomponents 376 | Chem. 367–378 (also including C2 and C4) are often related to knowledge of science curriculum (B1-B4). They have similar orientations towards teaching: didactics (A3) and academic rigor (A2). compared to students’ understanding. 3. in this orientation students are more active than in the didactic orientation. solve problems that. For example. academic rigor) are often linked with knowledge of instructional strategies (E1. Discussion and conclusions What is clear from the results of our study is. or with knowledge of students’ understanding of science (C1. Assessment is one of the most difficult aspects of education. and A2-E3 which appeared in Paul. 2011. although they are referenced in his lectures. Matthew and Thomas. the second part is a workshop (one session per week) where he or his adjunct. together with students. didactic. D. and so | doi:10. because it is difficult to evaluate the understanding of quantum chemistry concepts. He also emphasized that students must know some concepts because he is aware that these are included in previous courses. Res. E2 and E3). Pract. students had to work on by themselves.. this is often not the best way to This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2011 . E) that are used most by teachers. This was the case for two pairs of subcomponents: B3-C1. Consequently. the first one because quantum chemistry is one of the most difficult subjects for students to comprehend. At the beginning of the course. where a general view is shown of the components (A. and A3. B.

in his paper Kaya didn’t support the model used. 391-405. Although Kaya did not consider science teaching orientations in his research. since it is known that students’ perceptions of teaching are often different from those of the teacher. We found. Magnusson et al. The first author wishes to thank the Mexican Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) for the research grant she was awarded to do her postdoctoral research in Leiden University. affect. the orientations we found were more traditional: didactic. we did not make use of class observations or students’ perceptions. that these textbooks. 11051149. Downloaded on 10 September 2011 Published on 17 August 2011 on http://pubs. for their assistance with the analysis of the data. and surely know about different strategies that may help students understand and appreciate ‘the beauty of quantum chemistry’. knowledge of students’ learning difficulties. the size of the sample is small. despite the different topics and contexts of both studies. 2) The subject is completely different. relationships between components are often neglected (Friedrichsen et al. Lederman (eds. and cognition in interest processes. 34. MSc. Bond-Robinson J. Res. Nevertheless. Educ. process. Adams P. These last are quite important. which means that they are students. K. It could be interesting to develop some strategies that help students’ self-assessment of their learning. however. Another important change concerns the definition of Knowledge of specific Curricular Programs: in Magnusson et al. For this purpose. activitydriven. H. which represent. Instead. we think a focus on teachers’ reasoning is justified. Similarly to us. and help teachers to know how much and how meaningfully have the students been learning. 5) In both cases. In that way. e. It is possible. relating the term materials mostly to books. it was vital to combine a qualitative analysis of the interview data with a quantitative technique. J. 4) The kind of analysis is different in the two cases. Abell and N.rsc. 633-653. Acknowledgment The authors wish to thank Ben Smit. K. In particular. (2005). to some degree. 83103. project-based learning. in | doi:10. Shulman. Kaya found low correlations between knowledge of assessment and the other components. 367–378 | 377 . didactic. both of Leiden University. An exception is a recent paper by Kaya (2009) on relationships between PCK components of pre-service teachers related to ‘ozone layer depletion’. since PCK concerns the knowledge This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2011 Chem. for each teacher. (1999). Mahwah.1039/C1RP90043A teachers have about their own teaching (cf. make the teaching of this subject difficult. in our case we are doing a double analysis. pp. Limitations and implications This research has shown that it is possible to identify connections between PCK components related to teaching subject matter in a very specific way.g. (2007). in Kaya’s it is using a quantitative analysis where PCCM (Pearson correlation coefficient MANOVA) is used to define correlations among components. 3) PCK’s model used to data analysis is different. we decided to formulate this component just in terms of the knowledge of materials and curriculum.. and none focuses on quantum chemistry. 2011). We are aware that our study has some limitations. and find inter-relationships between PCK’s components.View Online evaluate students’ comprehension. as well as instructional strategies and activities were found. just said that it has four components that are used in his research. in Kaya’s case it is ozone layer depletion.). Abell S. Pract. G. Pract. in our case the sample is of 6 experienced quantum chemistry teachers. discovery. we thought that teachers who have been teaching this subject for many years must have developed PCK.e. Identifying pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in the chemistry laboratory. (1997). the PCK of experienced professors in this field. E. there were similar findings. in ours it is quantum chemistry. Handbook of research on science education.. it became possible to draw a profile of how each teacher views the teaching of his subject.. quantitative and qualitative. together with their lack of a strong background in mathematics. N. However. PRINCALS appeared to be a useful tool to visualize the strength and importance of the relationships that emerged from the interview data. etc. In our study. Chem. This helped us to characterize. 6. inquiry and guided inquiry.: Lawrence Earlbaum. Res. we didn’t correlate the teachers’ PCK with the textbooks they used in their courses. 1986). in our case we are using a modified version of the model of Magnusson et al. This paper is similar . Teach. teachers make their best effort to improve students’ comprehension of quantum chemistry. First of all. Res. and Pieter Kroonenberg. Finally. Notes and References 1. academic rigor.. To explore this unknown territory. Educ. however. inquiry. conceptual change. 18. The problem of students’ previous ideas and misconceptions. his teaching profile and his kind of considerations about the teaching of this difficult subject. as Iacobous said. or computational programs to solve problems and simulations.. 2011.’s model this subcomponent is related with changes of the curriculum more than with the knowledge of the curriculum per se. guided inquiry or project-based learning. and Krockover G. The Netherlands. Rev.J. There are very few studies on teachers’ knowledge and beliefs about teaching a specific subject at university level. (2006). Beginning science teacher cognition and its origins and the preservice secondary science teacher program. Educ. In studies on PCK. but at the same time different from ours because of the following reasons: 1) the size and sort of sample is quite different: in Kaya’s paper the sample is of 216 pre-service science teachers. Connecting with learning: motivation. 12. (1999) distinguished nine different orientations toward teaching science i. relationships between knowledge of curriculum. In our first analysis we realized that some of these orientations did not appear in teachers’ answers.... In the first. Research on science teacher knowledge. have influenced the PCK of the teachers in our sample. academic rigor. relationships between PCK components were found. Sci. Also. The orientations considered by Magnusson are much more than those considered by us. PhD. that teachers struggle to make these ideas comprehensible to their students. PRINCALS is used to find PCK components’ relationships... Psychol. Ainley M. which permit us to clearly capture and portray teachers’ PCK.

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