The role of teacher efficacy in the development of pedagogical content knowledge among experienced science teachers
The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the developmental process of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) among experienced science teachers. Since teaching is a "learned profession" (Shulman, 1987) centered on a unique set of knowledge, PCK becomes a critical avenue to investigating the roots of effective teaching. Research suggests that PCK develops and grows through classroom practice (Lederman, Gess-Newsome, & Latz, 1994; van Driel, Verloop, & de Vos, 1998; van Driel, De Jong, & Verloop, 2002). In addition, teacher efficacy has been argued to be an "affective affiliate" of PCK (Park, 2007) indicating an association between empowered teachers and knowledge growth. Therefore, this study examined the role of teacher efficacy in sustaining PCK growth among experienced teachers to better comprehend the mechanism of action of classroom teaching experience. This collective case study involved three experienced high school science teachers who have been teaching for at least eight years. Data collection involved the use of classroom observations coupled with teacher interviews. In addition, instruments used in data collection included the use of the CoRe/PaPeRs (Content Representation/Pedagogical and Professional Experience Repertoires) template for validating PCK episodes (Loughran, Mulhall, & Berry, 2004; Loughran, Berry, & Mulhall, 2006) as well as the Science Teaching Efficacy Belief Instrument (STEBI) that was used to evaluate efficacy levels. Data analysis indicated teacher efficacy plays a pivotal role in developing PCK through a system of validation and evaluation of the teacher's cognitive belief structure. Furthermore, it was determined that as teachers gain classroom teaching experience, their sustained PCK growth is the result of increasing their knowledge of student understanding.