Research in Science Education

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 245-260

First online:

Is Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) Necessary for Reformed Science Teaching?: Evidence from an Empirical Study

  • Soonhye ParkAffiliated withDepartment of Teaching & Learning, University of Iowa Email author 
  • , Jeong-Yoon JangAffiliated withDepartment of Teaching & Learning, University of Iowa
  • , Ying-Chih ChenAffiliated withDepartment of Teaching & Learning, University of Iowa
  • , Jinhong JungAffiliated withDepartment of Kinesiology & Physical Education, Northern Illinois University

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This study tested a hypothesis that focused on whether or not teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) is a necessary body of knowledge for reformed science teaching. This study utilized a quantitative research method to investigate the correlation between a teacher’s PCK level as measured by the PCK rubric (Park et al. 2008) and the degree to which his/her classroom is reform-oriented as measured by RTOP (Sawada et al. 2002). Data included 33 instructional sessions of photosynthesis and heredity videotaped with 7 high school biology teachers. Each session was given a score on both the PCK rubric and RTOP by two independent raters. Results indicate that PCK score is significantly related to RTOP score in terms of both total score (r = .831, p < .01) and sub-component scores (ranging from r = .616 to .805, p < .01). Implications for science teacher education and future research are discussed.


Reform-based science education Pedagogical content knowledge Knowledge of student understanding Knowledge of instructional strategies and representations