S.3 – P.C.K.


Session 3: Knowledge Growth in Teaching

Session Overview

In the last class session we began to consider the perspectives we have about teaching, the role of the teacher, and the importance of teacher identity in shaping practice. We seek to build on these initial ideas by considering what constitutes knowledge of teaching, identifying sources of this knowledge, and discussing models that might serve to guide the future growth of our understanding. One point of departure is to begin with the often taken for granted assumption in higher education that the mastery of disciplinary knowledge in a chosen field is both sufficient and the primary preparation for university-level teaching. While the development of subject matter expertise is certainly of central importance, it does not necessarily yield insight or understanding to the practice of teaching in ways that help others learn.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this class session you should be able to…

  • Discuss the limitation of viewing subject matter expertise as the defining characteristic of pedagogical accomplishment.
  • Begin identifying sources of knowledge and experience that can support the growth of understanding about teaching.
  • Recognize teaching (pedagogy) as a specialized knowledge domain, with accompanying characteristics that constitute it as a discipline.

Key Questions

  • What are the sources of knowledge for growth in understanding teaching and learning?
  • How do future faculty members make the transition from expert student to novice teacher?
  • To what extent might the concept of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) serve as a guiding model for supporting knowledge growth in teaching?



1) Individual reflection – “What are the most important sources of knowledge / experiences that inform the practice of teaching?”

2) Small group discussion and consensus building. Debrief and discussion of small group consensus building process.

3) Consideration of PCK as one potential model for informing growth in knowledge and practice of teaching.


1) Synthesize ideas from class discussion and post to your Learning Journal.
2) Begin reading book selection for the Exploring Scholar as Teacher assignment.

3) Read the posts of at least three (3) other students in the course. Extend the conversation by adding comments / questions where possible.


Suggested Readings

Lee Shulman, (1986). “Those Who Understand: Knowledge Growth in Teaching.Educational Researcher. 15(2). pp. 1-14.