Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) in Action: A Descriptive Study of Secondary Teachers’ Curriculum-Based, Technology-Related Instructional Planning

From Section:
ICT & Teaching
May. 01, 2011
Spring, 2011

Source: Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 43(3), (Spring 2011), p. 211-229. (Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this study, the authors were interested to examine the nature and development of teachers’ TPACK as it is applied in instructional planning.
The authors also examined how (and if) planning changes when professional development focuses upon the design of content-based learning activities that are supported by selective and purposeful integration of educational technologies.

Theoretical Framework

TPACK is knowledge that results from teachers’ concurrent and interdependent understanding of content, general pedagogy, technology, and learning contexts.

TPACK is informed particularly by four intersections of knowledge types upon which data generation and analysis in this study focused. These are:
•• Pedagogical content knowledge (PCK): Shulman’s construct about how to teach specific content-based material
•• Technological content knowledge (TCK): How to select technologies that best embody and support particular content-based precepts
•• Technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK): How to use particular technologies in teaching
•• Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK/TPACK): How to teach specific content-based material, using technologies that best embody and support it, in ways that are appropriately matched to students’ needs and preferences

Each and all of these types of teacher knowledge are influenced by contextual factors, such as culture, socioeconomic status, and school organizational structures.

This study addressed to the following research questions:
What was the nature of these social studies teachers’ TPACK as it was applied in instructional planning?
How, if at all, did it change after experiencing a TPACK-based form of professional development that focused on planning?

The participants in this study were seven experienced social studies teachers from six different U.S. states, who participated in a university-funded, Web-based resource and curriculum development initiative.

The participants were four women and three men; two participants were high school world history teacher, one was high school American history teacher, one participant was an experienced middle school history teacher, one was a secondary civics teacher, one was a secondary Advanced Placement Government teacher; and one participant was an elementary-level science who decided to participate in the professional development course.

The teachers’ TPACK, as it was applied in instructional planning, was documented at both the beginning and end of the 5-month professional development experience through in-depth interviews, unit plans and reflections on the participants' unit/lesson planning and technology integration processes.


The findings reveaedl that the teachers used the content for which they are responsible as an arbiter in their decision-making about possible adoption of tools and resources. These teachers first considered the content to be addressed, then predicted (based on past experience) what would engage students to learn that content in the deepest way possible.
These planning priorities remained the same for the participants at the end of the study.

This analysis also revealed that the instructional planning of these teachers became more student-centered, especially in terms of students’ intellectual (as opposed to affective) engagement.

Finally, the teachers also commented that this experience raised their awareness of higher standards for technology integration.

The results of this study indicate that a content-based, activity-types approach to technologically inclusive instructional planning is compatible with existing approaches to teaching.

Updated: Jan. 17, 2017
Curriculum | Experienced teachers | Instructional development | Pedagogical content knowledge | Professional development | Social studies | Technology integration