Following a Student into Her Science Classroom to Better Understand the Tensions of Science Education

  • Deborah J. Trumbull
Part of the Self-Study of Teaching and Teacher Education Practices book series (STEP, volume 12)


Much has been written about pedagogical content knowledge, and it continues to be an elusive yet tantalizing construct for science teacher educators. In my work in self-study of my teaching practices, I have spent considerable time examining the assignments given to students in my class by analyzing their work. In the process, I have learned much about my own practice. Although much of my work has focused on how novices develop, I have come to realize that I can also learn about factors that relate to how novices develop pedagogical content knowledge for teaching science. I present that case study of one student, Wendy, to illustrate some barriers to her development of pedagogical content knowledge and how those barriers were revealed in her early work in the teacher education program. In the process of studying Wendy’s development as a science teacher, my self-study helped me to understand and resolve my personal concerns about a significant tension in science education: formative assessment that supports learning versus standardized examinations that can constrain learning.


Preservice Teacher Pedagogical Content Knowledge Teacher Education Program Alternative Conception Professional Identity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



My changed practice and my students’ responses and gentle comments from Tom Russell in reviewing this chapter have all contributed to my ability to transform the dilemma I had set myself. This project was funded by National Science Foundation Grant 0335737 and by Hatch Grant 1376428. All opinions expressed are solely those of the author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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