General Pedagogical Knowledge of Future Middle School Teachers: On the Complex Ecology of Teacher Education in the United States, Germany, and Taiwan

Apr. 02, 2011

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, 62(2), March/April, 2011, 188-201.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article reports how the general pedagogical knowledge (GPK) test was conceptualized in the context of Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics (TEDS-M).

Based on data from future teachers in the United States, Germany, and Taiwan, the structure of GPK, as well as specific strengths and weaknesses of U.S. future middle school teachers in their last year of training, was examined against the background of outcomes in two culturally different countries, namely, Germany and Taiwan.

TEDS-M data are used
(a) to test the hypothesis that GPK is not homogenous but multidimensional and
(b) to compare the achievement of U.S. future middle school teachers with future middle school teachers from Germany and Taiwan.

The researchers from three countries—the United States, Germany, and Taiwan—worked together and used representative samples of future middle school teachers in these countries from a survey which conducted on 2008.
The sample included 607 future teachers from the United States, 771 future teachers from Germany, and 365 future teachers from Taiwan.

Research Questions and Data Analyses

For the present article, the data from the GPK test were analyzed with respect to two main research questions.
First, how is the GPK of future middle school teachers structured?
Second, which level of achievement did future teachers from the United States show compared to their counterparts in Taiwan and Germany?


Summary and Conclusion

The authors were able to provide evidence for a distinction of four GPK topics (structure, adaptivity, classroom management/ motivation, and assessment) and three cognitive processes (recall, understand/analyze, and generate).

Findings from the TEDS-M survey revealed that U.S. future middle school teachers were significantly outperformed by future teachers in Germany and Taiwan with regard to the overall GPK test score.
It meant that most of the worst achieving teachers from Germany and Taiwan did better than most of the best achieving teachers from the United States.

Furthermore, the data revealed that U.S. future middle school teachers had a relative GPK strength in generating classroom strategies but a weakness in recalling knowledge and analyzing problems.
Future teachers from Germany showed a contrary profile, whereas the profile from Taiwan was balanced.

The data indicated that there were probably more opportunities in Germany and Taiwan to acquire systematic (declarative) knowledge, whereas the focus in U.S. teacher education seemed to be on acquiring teaching skills and, by this means, developing procedural knowledge.

Updated: Apr. 08, 2013