Presentation on theme: "By Wafaa Mohammed Moawad Abd-El-Aal Faculty of Education, Beni-Suef University, Egypt Astrid Steele Schulich School of Education, Nipissing University,"— Presentation transcript:
By Wafaa Mohammed Moawad Abd-El-Aal Faculty of Education, Beni-Suef University, Egypt Astrid Steele Schulich School of Education, Nipissing University, Canada PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS’ Science Content Knowledge: An Egyptian Perspective
“An accomplished teacher must understand what must be taught, as well as how to teach it.” (Shulman & Shulman, 2004) I teach science I teach children science I teach children
Without in-depth knowledge of a subject a teacher is at a considerable disadvantage to further the knowledge and understanding of her/his students. Content knowledge (CK) includes not only discrete pieces of information specific to the subject area, but also an understanding of the organization and representation of that information (Shulman, 1986). While the accumulation of discrete pieces of information can be acquired through memorization, a comprehensive understanding of the systematic organization of the depth and breadth of integrated content knowledge requires pedagogies that challenge students to use higher level thinking skills.
Both pre-service and in-service science teachers in Egypt have misconceptions in basic science concepts (e.g. states of matter, buoyancy, electricity, earth and space) (Abd-El-Aal, 2007; El Attar, 2001; El Attar, 2002; Hassan, 1989)
Research Purpose: to determine pre-service teachers’ basic content knowledge in the integrated sciences to be taught at preparatory schools (students aged 12-15 years) in Egypt.
Year of Study SpecializationNumber and gender of pre-service teachers 3 Chemistry7 Female 0 Male 3 Biology4 Female 0 Male 4 Chemistry2 Female 0 Male 4 Biology5 Female 1 Male
How well does Egyptian pre-service teachers’ CK compare to the integrated preparatory school science curricula? What effect does a specialized CK have on the pre-service teachers’ mastery of integrated preparatory school science curricula? What effect does the year of study have on the pre-service teachers’ mastery of the integrated preparatory school science curricula? How do the pre-service teachers perceive their CK with respect to the integrated preparatory school science curricula?
1. A Science Test based on questions found at the end of every science unit in the textbooks used in preparatory schools was used to identify pre-service teachers’ CK 2. Semi-structured Interviews were conducted just after completing the test as a way to elicit the pre-service teachers’ perspectives on the test questions as well as their reflections on their perceived CK. All 19 pre- service teachers were interviewed individually.
The test consisted of 83 multiple choice questions (25 Physics, 21 Chemistry, 26 Biology and 11 Astronomy). For example: In the electric lighter the energy changes from: a) Chemical to light b) Electric to light c) Chemical to electric d) Electric to thermal Blue zinc is classified as: a) An acid b) An alkaline c) An oxide d) A salt Hawks’ beaks are: a) Long and thin b) Wide and serrated c) Sharp and hooked d) Short and thin The planet nearest to the sun is: a) Earth b) Mercury c) Venus d) Mars
1. Test Score Analysis a) Overall Scores The pre-service teachers' performance in the science test was very low; the mean score in each set of questions (physics, chemistry, biology and astronomy) fell well below the possible total score The low scores suggest that pre-service teachers lack a considerable amount of basic science knowledge expected at the completion of preparatory school.
Although the students in 4 th year were more experienced in the preparatory science curricula, having already practice-taught science in preparatory schools in their 3 rd year, there was no difference in their performance in any section of the science test between the students in the two years. The average score for the students in both 3 rd and 4 th year was 48.36 for the former and 48.75 for the latter. The highest score in the science test was 56/83, was obtained by two 3 rd year participants. This suggests that studying more science in the 4 th year of training does not improve their preparatory school science knowledge.
There was no significant difference between pre- service teachers' mean scores in their area of science specialization. In other words, a science specialization did not lead to better scores in the test, even for test questions based in that specialization. For example, specialists in chemistry did not do better in the chemistry questions than those specializing in biology and vice versa!
a) knowledge-confidence gap All the pre-service teachers unanimously agreed that the test questions, based on preparatory school science, were in general easy, because they were related to simple science knowledge. However, this claim is in conflict with their performance on the test. (the highest score in the test was about 67.5 %)! “ Most of the test questions are naïve. They are all about the science we did in the preparatory school. Isn’t it?” ST2 “The test wasn’t hard…the questions seemed to me easy…” ST16
b) Participants believed they had done better in their individual areas of specialization. “I’m sure I’ve done better in my specialization [biology] than in chemistry or physics…because I’m more knowledgeable about my biology…” ST7 c) Old Knowledge – participants believed that the test consisted of ‘old knowledge’ which they had not studied in a long time. knowledge that was acquired through memorization some time ago and which has slipped from memory, is identified by them as old knowledge "Really, it was very difficult to remember such OLD knowledge…I think we all forgot it, but I’m sure I can answer other questions that are more difficult than this test!" ST4 d) Weak science vocabulary “There were some words in the test that I couldn't understand, such as hooked beaks and blue zinc.” ST1
The pre-service teachers’ comments indicate being provided with vast amounts of complex scientific knowledge to be memorized. …and some is identified by them as old knowledge. The pre-service teachers demonstrate generally deficient CK. Based on the work done by Baumert et.al. (2010), a teacher’s weak command of content knowledge (CK) will be reflected in a corresponding weakness in their pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), both essential components of quality science teaching. It is quite possible that a pedagogical focus on memorization, rather than deep understanding, exacerbates the problems.
There is a pressing need for teacher education programs in Egypt to meet the requirements of a new-born Egypt that calls for a highly capable teacher workforce ably prepared for the school curricula they are going to teach. This requires teachers appropriately trained with a balance of CK and PCK.
Studying many advanced science courses at pre-service teacher education does not guarantee teachers knowledgeable about what they are going to teach in school. We suggest pre-service teachers study what we may call School Sciences. Such courses would not only focus on the science content knowledge those teachers are going to teach in schools, but also on the methods of teaching that content, i.e. PCK.