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How is Teacher Knowledge Measured?. Betsy Jane Becker Florida State University. Acknowledgement. I acknowledge two sources of support:

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how is teacher knowledge measured

How is Teacher Knowledge Measured?

Betsy Jane Becker

Florida State University


I acknowledge two sources of support:

  • National Science Foundation Evaluation Research and Evaluative Capacity Building (EREC) grant to Betsy Becker & Mary Kennedy to study causal inferences in research on the teacher workforce
  • National Science Foundation (REESE) grant to Betsy Becker & Fran O’Reilly to study predictors of teacher knowledge
teacher knowledge tk project
Teacher Knowledge (TK) Project
  • Overview
  • Definitions of teacher knowledge
  • Measures of ...
    • Content knowledge
    • Pedagogical knowledge
    • Pedagogical content knowledge
  • Remarks
tk project
TK Project
  • Project goal is to understand what leads to changes in teacher knowledge
  • We have begun by examining what researchers have studied in the name of teacher knowledge
  • We have drawn on two prior projects on teacher qualifications and teacher professional development
tk project from tqqt and pd
TK Project (from TQQT and PD...)
  • The TQQT project collected over 450 reports of research dating from 1960 on relationships between teacher qualifications (TQ) and indicators of the quality of teaching (QT) in the U.S. K-12 context
  • Over 200 of these purport to examine teacher knowledge
  • O’Reilly and colleagues examined over 200 studies of teacher professional development (PD) programs
  • Thirty of these measured teacher knowledge as an outcome
studies measuring teacher knowledge in the becker kennedy database
Studies Measuring Teacher Knowledge in the Becker/Kennedy Database

Pedagogical knowledge

k = 83

Content knowledge

k = 215







Pedagogical content knowledge

k = 34


teacher knowledge measures
Teacher Knowledge Measures
  • Numbers of studies measuring teacher knowledge or abilities in set of 487 studies
content or subject matter knowledge smk
Content or Subject-Matter Knowledge (SMK)...

SMK may be defined by professional associations in standards for teachers. E.g., the National Science Teachers Association (1998) wrote: “Content refers to

  • Concepts and principles understood through science.
  • Concepts and relationships unifying science domains.
  • Processes of investigation in a science discipline.
  • Applications of mathematics in science research.”
content knowledge or smk definition
Content Knowledge or SMK: Definition

Some have defined SMK by listing components, but these are not always clearcut. Basile et al. list...

  • factual knowledge (knowledge about a specific piece of information)
  • conceptual or theoretical knowledge (knowledge about big ideas or models)
  • procedural knowledge (knowledge about science or mathematical processes)
  • knowledge of misconceptions (knowledge of mistaken beliefs)
  • pedagogical content knowledge (the way content is taught within the context of instruction) and
  • self-perception knowledge (teachers’ beliefs about their content knowledge).
pedagogical knowledge definitions
Pedagogical Knowledge: Definitions
  • It is hard to find definitions of this concept in studies measuring it! We might guess it means “Knowing how to teach”
  • “...accumulated knowledge about the act of teaching, including the goals, procedures, and strategies that form the basis for what teachers do in the classroom.” (Mullock, 2006)
  • “General pedagogical knowledge may address relevant general elements such as knowledge about how to ask questions of higher cognitive level, or about how to assess inquiry learning.” (Zohar & Schwartzer, 2005)
pedagogical content knowledge definition
Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Definition
  • Pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) is often viewed as the intersection of content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge

content knowledge

pedagogical knowledge


pedagogical content knowledge definition12
Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Definition
  • Pedagogical content knowledge includes

. . . the ways of representing the subject that make it comprehensible to others. . .(I)t also includes an understanding of what makes the learning of specific topics easy or difficult: the conceptions and preconceptions that students of different ages and backgrounds bring with them to learning. (Shulman, 1987, p. 9)

pedagogical content knowledge definition13
Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Definition

Cochran, King, and DeRuiter (1991, p. 1) defined PCK as "the manner in which teachers relate their pedagogical knowledge to their subject matter knowledge in the school context, for the teaching of specific students". Their definition incorporated four components:

  • knowledge of subject matter,
  • knowledge of students,
  • knowledge of environmental contexts, and
  • knowledge of pedagogy.
content knowledge measures
Content Knowledge Measures

* Based on 304 measures from 215 studies

pedagogical knowledge measures
Pedagogical Knowledge Measures

* Based on 105 measures from 83 studies

pedagogical content knowledge measures
Pedagogical Content Knowledge Measures

* Based on 35 measures from 35 studies

content knowledge measures17
Content Knowledge Measures
  • Course or credit counts in subject-matter courses (Reed, 1986)
  • GPAs in subject-matter courses (Ayers & Qualls, 1979)
  • Degree or major in area (Rowan et al., 1997)
  • Certification in a field of teaching (e.g. having a math or science teaching certificate)
content knowledge measures tests
Content Knowledge Measures: Tests
  • Caezza (1969), Cox (1970)

Callahan Test of Mathematical Knowledge (8 topics, 39 or 45 items, a = .60 to .86)

  • Clary (1972)

Inventory of Teacher Knowledge of Reading (no info on reliability or validity at time of use)

  • Guyton & Farokhi (1987)

GA Teacher Certification Tests in a variety of areas

content knowledge measures19
Content Knowledge Measures??
  • Tests used are short (very short...)
  • From a study using the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS)

(How reliable and generalizable is this??)

content knowledge measures20
Content Knowledge Measures??
  • Many studies even use surveys that ask teachers if they know certain content.
  • From a PD study on integrated math and science:

(How valid is this??)

pedagogical knowledge peterson et al 1989
Pedagogical Knowledge: Peterson et al. (1989)
  • “For [Knowledge of Number Fact Strategies, Knowledge of Problem-Solving Strategies, and Knowledge of Problem-Solving Ability] teachers were asked to predict their target students' performance on specific problems. The teachers' knowledge scores were based on the match between their predictions for each target student and that student's actual response to each given item...

.... teachers were also asked questions about

  • their students' knowledge of addition and subtraction,
  • how they assessed students' knowledge, and
  • whether and how they used their understanding of children's knowledge in planning instruction and adapting instruction for individual children.”
pedagogical content knowledge measures22
Pedagogical Content Knowledge Measures

Measures of pedagogical content knowledge have included

  • Number of courses (or credits) in methods of teaching classes (e.g., math or science education classes)
  • GPA in teaching methods classes (e.g., math education GPA as pedagogical content knowledge: Monk, 1994).
  • Self assessments
pck measures
PCK Measures
  • Hill, Rowan, and Ball (e.g., 2005) have been most active in development of PCK measures, but their measure is still short, perhaps because of practical constraints involved with large data set use.
teacher knowledge remarks
Teacher Knowledge Remarks
  • TK is hardly ever defined clearly in studies where it is measured.
  • TK is often measured by way of proxy variables, obtained from administrative databases.
  • Even when direct measures of teacher knowledge are used, they are often brief, simplistic, and of questionable reliability, or information about the measure is not reported.