• Carmel M. Diezmann
  • James J. WattersEmail author


One method of addressing the shortage of science and mathematics teachers is to train scientists and other science-related professionals to become teachers. Advocates argue that as discipline experts these career changers can relate the subject matter knowledge to various contexts and applications in teaching. In this paper, through interviews and classroom observations with a former scientist and her students, we examine how one career changer used her expertise in microbiology to teach microscopy. These data provided the basis for a description of the teacher’s instruction which was then analysed for components of domain knowledge for teaching. Consistent with the literature, the findings revealed that this career changer needed to develop her pedagogical knowledge. However, an interesting finding was that the teacher’s subject matter as a science teacher differed substantively from her knowledge as a scientist. This finding challenges the assumption that subject matter is readily transferable across professions and provides insight into how to better prepare and support career changers to transition from scientist to science teacher.

Key words

beginning teachers career change contextual knowledge pedagogical content knowledge science teaching scientist STEM subject matter knowledge 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Catholic UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.BrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Queensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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