Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 67(4) 320–337, 2016
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This paper offers a conceptualization and operationalization of the professional knowledge of future middle school teachers for teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), whom the authors directly assessed using tests developed by the research group.
The participants were preservice teachers for TEFL in Germany from different programs and stages during initial teacher education (during their master’s studies at university and at the end of their induction phase).
The authors developed several paper and- pencil tests in order to assess content knowledge (CK), pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), and general pedagogical knowledge (GPK) of preservice EFL teachers.
The findings revealed that teacher knowledge for TEFL is a multi-dimensional construct and PCK is closely related to both CK and GPK. The relatively high correlations allow the authors to assume that it relies heavily on the integration of both CK and GPK. PCK requires preservice teachers to draw upon their knowledge of their subject as well as their knowledge of general pedagogical concepts and principles for teaching. The authors also argue that although CK is usually defined as being structurally related to academic disciplines, such different ways of operationalization may also contribute to differences in the degree of correlations.
Furthermore, the findings showed that test scores varied across preservice teachers from different programs and stages, adequately reflecting differences in the learning opportunities they had during teacher education.
In addition, it was found that preservice teachers at a later stage (induction) outperformed those at an earlier stage at university.
The authors consider the differences according to phase, and they argue that one might argue that learning to practice allows preservice teachers to connect their PCK and GPK to the classroom context in which it is used. This might enrich the training of teachers and support their acquisition of professional knowledge.
The authors also consider the differences according to program, they suggest that findings mirror the specialization in subject matter as institutionalized by the programs.
The authors conclude that test score differences by phase and program as shown in this study are well aligned to certain priorities laid down in the initial teacher education curriculum. The authors consider this as evidence for the curricular validity of the tests. The authors suggest that the tests could be used to inform about learning progress of student teachers throughout their teacher preparation program. Regarding the lower secondary teachers in this study, it seems that there is a particular need to support their learning in TEFL as they did not score very highly.