Teachers’ Pedagogical Reasoning and Action in the Digital Age

Apr. 20, 2010

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 16, No. 2,( April 2010), 233–244
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Beginning teachers are entering the profession with increasing confidence in their ability to use digital technologies which has the potential to change the way teachers of the future make pedagogical decisions.

This article examines how pedagogical reasoning and action might occur in the digital age, comparing Schulman’s 1987 model with the reality for a small sample of digitally able beginning teachers as part of the emerging generation of teachers.

A study of digitally able beginning teachers

A multiple case study based on constructivist philosophy that acknowledged the complex context of secondary schooling was the methodological approach taken in this research.

Six volunteering self-identified digitally able beginning teachers were selected to be examined through interviews and observation during their first year of secondary teaching.

Data were gathered through observation and student think alouds (Ericsson, 2006) as students used digital technologies in one of each of the beginning teachers’ classes.

To enable the measurement of learning activities, a ‘digital age learning matrix’ was designed, tested and applied. The teachers in the study applied pedagogical reasoning as outlined by Shulman.

One example from the case studies is outlined in detail to illustrate the pedagogical reasoning process in depth.


The conclusion drawn is that while the pedagogical reasoning and action model remains relevant, it was based on an assumption that teaching involves knowledge being passed from a teacher to their students, which was found to restrict innovation by digitally able teachers.

Connectivist learning theory can be applied to the use of web 2.0 technologies in the teaching and learning process and a greater familiarity of this may have helped the beginning teachers in the study. More importantly, to put theory into practice the teachers in the study could have benefited from experiencing the implementation of a edagogical reasoning and action model that was aligned with ideas about knowledge, teaching and learning in the digital age.

Ericsson, K.A. (2006). Protocol analysis and expert thought: Concurrent verbalizations of thinking during experts’ performance on representative tasks. In K.A. Ericsson, N. Charness, P.J. Feltovich, & R.R. Hoffman (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance (pp. 223–241). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Shulman, L.S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1–22.

Updated: Oct. 12, 2010