A case study of alternatively trained science teachers: Attainment of pedagogical content knowledge

Benjamin R Duncan, Tennessee State University


Elements essential to effective teaching are closely aligned with the domains of a teacher's pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) (Park & Oliver, 2008). Often, alternatively trained teachers enter the teaching profession lacking exposure to pedagogical events that allow these educators opportunities to reflect on their practice and construction of their PCK (Friedrichsen et al., 2007); yet little is known about the knowledge of experienced alternatively trained educators and the complexities associated with their PCK development. The purpose of this study was to describe the nature and sources of alternatively trained secondary school science teachers' PCK after gaining classroom experience. The Park and Oliver (2008) hexagon PCK model was used as the theoretical framework. A case study of two experienced secondary science teachers at a school in the southeastern region of the United States was conducted. Data were collected from multiple sources, such as interviews, classroom observations, participant field journals, lesson plans, classroom assignments, classroom assessments, and researcher's field notes. Data analysis was conducted using the constant comparative method, qualitative deductive analysis, and a content representation. The results showed that experienced alternatively trained science teachers' PCK development was heavily influenced by each teacher's orientation to science teaching. Alternatively trained science teachers compensated for their lack of pedagogical training by relying heavily upon their content knowledge, their knowledge of students, and past experiences. Even after gaining years of experience in a school setting, alternatively trained teachers still lacked familiarity with traditional educational terminology and practices, rather relying upon instructional approaches and techniques independently acquired while each teacher was in "survival" mode. This study provides several implications for teacher preparation, research, and policy.

Subject Area

Pedagogy|Secondary education|Science education

Recommended Citation

Benjamin R Duncan, "A case study of alternatively trained science teachers: Attainment of pedagogical content knowledge" (2013). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3599426.