Can the Principles of Topic-Specific PCK Be Applied Across Science Topics? Teaching PCK in a Pre-Service Programme

  • Marissa Rollnick
  • Elizabeth Mavhunga
Part of the Contributions from Science Education Research book series (CFSE, volume 2)


This study investigates the transferability of the principles of topic-specific PCK (TSPCK) across science topics. The principles are embodied in a model based on five components – Learners’ Prior Knowledge, Curriculum Saliency, What makes a topic easy or difficult to understand, Representations and Conceptual Teaching Strategies. 16 pre-service teachers were exposed to an intervention aimed at improving their PCK of chemical equilibrium. At the end of the intervention, they produced Content Representations (CoRes) and lesson plans on chemical equilibrium as a major assessment task. Later they prepared an examination task using a similar exercise on a topic of their choice taught during teaching experience. The quality of TSPCK was scored for both tasks using a validated rubric and the scores compared using Rasch analysis. The tasks were also analysed qualitatively. The analysis showed that the students were able to apply the approach taught to them for chemical equilibrium and displayed newly developed PCK in the topic taught. The study demonstrates that focus on developing PCK using the principles of pedagogical transformation in a single topic in a methodology course will enable transfer of the principles to another topic provided that the teachers have the prerequisite content knowledge.


TSPCK Pedagogical transformation Transfer Pre-service teachers 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marang Centre for Mathematics and Science EducationWits UniversityJohannesburgSouth Africa

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