Teaching Science with Technology: Case Studies of Science Teachers’ Development of Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge

Mar. 28, 2009

Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1). (2009).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study examines the effects of a professional development program (TEC) on science teachers’ development of technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge (TPACK).

The research question guiding this study was: How does the professional development program, TEC, enhance science teachers’ TPACK?


The teachers in this study were the participants in the TEC professional development program that focused on technology integration in science classrooms. Eleven secondary science teachers enrolled in the program. Five of them were experienced and 6 of them were beginning secondary science teachers. Only beginning teachers were invited to participate in the present study since they had more commonalities with each other than with experienced teachers.

The teachers had recently completed preservice coursework focused on inquiry-based teaching and implementing science instruction with technology tools. Of the six beginning teacher participants in TEC, four – Jason, Brenna, Matt, and Cassie – participated in this study.


In the program, probeware, mind-mapping tools (CMaps), and Internet applications ― computer simulations, digital images, and movies — were introduced to the science teachers. A descriptive multicase study design was employed to track teachers’ development over the yearlong program. Data included interviews, surveys, classroom observations, teachers’ technology integration plans, and action research study reports.


The Influence of TEC on Science Teachers’ Development of TPACK

TEC was found to have a varying impact on each participant teacher’s development of TPACK.

Knowledge of Science. TEC did not specifically target improving teachers' content knowledge. In TEC, teachers frequently engaged in classroom discussions on what science is and what inquiry is, and these discussions helped teachers understand how scientific knowledge is generated and justified. All the teachers found these discussions “intensive.”

Knowledge of Pedagogy. Most beginning science teachers struggle with developing effective lesson plans. In TEC, teachers learned how to create technology-supported, inquiry-based lesson plans.

Knowledge of Technology. The main goal of TEC was to help teachers integrate technology tools into their classrooms. Three teachers - Jason, Matt, and Brenna - integrated technology in their teaching in various degrees. On the other hand, Cassie could not incorporate technology tools into her classroom.

Knowledge of Students. The classroom discussions on effective science teaching also allowed teachers to have a better understanding of what good science teaching and learning look like. In addition, university educators shared their previous experiences with teachers and their knowledge about common student misconceptions and difficulties in learning science.

The Critical Factors Influencing Teachers’ Development of TPACK

The school context and teachers’ pedagogical reasoning were found to have notable impact on teachers’ development of TPACK. The authors found that contextual constraints such as availability of technology tools and characteristics of student population had large impacts on the teachers’ development of TPACK.

Furthermore, it was found that teachers’ pedagogical reasoning skills influence teachers’ use of knowledge bases that are necessary to develop TPACK. Thus, it is possible that a relationship exists between teachers’ development of TPACK and their pedagogical reasoning skills.

Updated: Feb. 21, 2010