Submitted by David Tenorio on Wed, 10/13/2021 - 11:26
<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >What is Pedagogical Knowledge (PK)?</span>

What is Pedagogical Knowledge (PK)?

Although Pedagogical Knowledge methods have been used in the American school system on a limited basis for many years, it has resulted, for the most part, in a positive impact on student learning abilities according to recent studies. 

But what is PK exactly?  According to Marlene Garcia of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), “Pedagogical teaching represents strategies educators employ in the classroom to pass on knowledge of a subject based on the teacher’s skill in delivering this information to a varied student body.”

When a teacher is an expert in a subject and also knows how to teach it properly, they have what is known as pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). Pedagogical teaching is based on core principles of commitment to all pupils, knowledge in the subject matter, assessing student progress, and ongoing education for teachers, states Ms. Garcia.

In other words, a good pedagogical teacher will not only have intimate knowledge of the teaching subject, but will also possess the effective skills to translate this knowledge successfully to his/her students.  Knowing your subject like the back of your hand is not enough, you have to possess the skills to pass on this knowledge successfully to your students, all of them.

According to the OECD report, Mrs. Johnson, a middle school teacher, knew chemistry thoroughly, like the back of her hand but was unable to successfully translate it, illustrate it and make it understandable to her students.  It was thought that if Mrs. Johnson had combined her knowledge of chemistry with class exercises, creative examples and careful explanations, she would have displayed pedagogical content knowledge.  

The term pedagogical content knowledge was introduced by Lee Shulman, (President, American Educational Research Association) in 1986.  Shulman argued that teaching and teacher education had undeservedly ignored questions dealing with content of the lessons taught.  Not only must the teacher be knowledgeable about subject content, but he/she must have strategies to teach a certain topic related to, if not based on, their knowledge of how students learn that topic and their understanding that students’ learning may vary according to the learning abilities of the student.

The basic premise of PCK is not only knowing your subject well, but also implementing the practice of teaching to a diverse student body that may have other issues in learning what they are being taught. To meet this challenge, teachers must not only stay constantly aware of any new topics in their subject matters, but will develop comparable and mutual classroom techniques to address all student concerns.

Developing PCK techniques

Teachers should adjust lesson plans to address learning styles of individual students after assessing their home environment, interests, level of ability, and culture.  Teachers might become more creative in devising lessons to keep struggling students from falling behind.  Teachers might also explore several different ways of sharing knowledge with students, including the use of various teaching materials to pique student interest.

Managing a classroom using pedagogical teaching methods should also include assessment and tracking of student progress by evaluating the level of academic growth for individual students and the classroom as a whole. Teachers can try new ways of exploring how the students are thinking about the concepts being taught.  Ask students what “real life”personal situations that their class relates to.

Teachers can share with other teachers about teaching, classroom management, learning styles, etc.  Exchange strategies for teaching difficult concepts or dealing with specific types of students. Pedagogical teaching might also employ outside resources from the community and hands-on activities as part of the curriculum. This can include working with parents or guardians represents another aspect of pedagogical teaching which is considered another resource for student development. Teachers typically meet with parents to gain knowledge of a student’s home environment and cultural background.  They might inform parents about ways they can help their child gain knowledge and improve self-esteem.

Ideally, it is recommended that teachers begin to reflect more often or think about why they teach specific ideas the way they do.  Most teachers know much more about teaching subject matter concepts to students than they really are aware.

This is pedagogical content knowledge, and many teachers do not think about this knowledge as important.  It is important, however, because it determines what a teacher does from minute to minute in the classroom.

Is it useful to use PCK methods in today’s classroom?  This teaching practice has been in existence for several decades and to date has shown positive results when implemented effectively.

Each individual teacher has his/her teaching methods and the most successful teachers will be those who effectively educate their students using PCK methods to the best of their ability.