Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Professional Knowledge and Skills
Pedagogical content knowledge enables teachers to synthesize their understanding of academic content and related standards, theories of learning and child development, and instructional design and teaching skills, and to apply these effectively in helping all students learn. Candidates in the initial programs must demonstrate beginning level competency in these assessments in order to continue or complete their programs. The unit holds that candidates who wish to receive a teaching credential from one of the unit’s programs should be able to teach a connected set of rich and challenging lessons that are developed based on informal, classroom assessment and knowledge of the students. Further, candidates must be able to evaluate the success of their teaching and reflect on the aspects of the teaching/learning episode that were successful and make new plans for addressing areas of ambiguity or weakness.
Pedagogical content knowledge and professional knowledge and skills figure prominently in three sets of guiding principles with which all of our teacher preparation programs are aligned. First, the School of Education vision maintains, “graduates will be knowledgeable and thoughtful about the content and methodology in their fields of emphasis.” Second, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing emphasizes pedagogical content knowledge in many of its Teaching Performance Expectations (TPEs 2-16). Third, pedagogical content and professional knowledge is an essential component of virtually all professional and state standards addressing academic content for PreK-12 schools.
Consequently, the development and assessment of this knowledge and skills is threaded throughout our programs. All of the basic credentials, advanced credentials and master’s degree programs in the School of Education develop our candidates’ pedagogical and professional knowledge and skills by building from knowledge about pedagogical theories and principles and content knowledge, to demonstration/simulation of instruction and assessment, to application of pedagogical, content, and instructional knowledge in field settings. Program designs ensure that candidates in both initial and advanced programs learn, practice to apply and reflect in specific ways on sequential paths designed to provide depth and breadth of knowledge (Program Assessment Reports in Table 1.3.a).
The initial credential programs assess teacher candidates’ pedagogical content and professional knowledge in three different contexts: coursework, portfolios and teaching performance assessments, and student teaching evaluations. Coursework includes methods courses in each of the main content areas that an individual will be certified to teach. Developing pedagogical content and professional knowledge is one of the major purposes of these courses. Candidates in all methods courses design instructional plans, at both the lesson and the unit level. It is here that candidates learn and demonstrate the use of a variety of instructional strategies at the same time that they learn to create effective learning experiences for particular content; in this case they develop the generic and content-specific skills simultaneously. Planning assignments in methods courses also provide the opportunity to build several other aspects of pedagogical content knowledge. The plans must be developmentally appropriate, related to curricular goals, and tied explicitly to state and national standards. Taken together, they must demonstrate diversity of teaching strategies and techniques and must incorporate appropriate uses of technology for learning content. Unit plans must include an assessment plan incorporating a variety of ways of assessing what students know and can do. Evaluation criteria for instructional planning assignments incorporate all of these expectations. Examples of all of these activities can be found in Program Assessment Reports and the corresponding course syllabi and assignments (Table 1.3.a).
A second context for developing and assessing initial teacher candidates’ pedagogical content and professional knowledge and skills is in program portfolio and/or performance assessments. The Multiple Subject program evaluates candidate pedagogical content and professional knowledge prior to entry into clinical practice via a portfolio assessment using LiveText as an electronic portfolio platform for the MS program’s candidate work sample portfolios in Phase 1 and Phase 2, as well as during full time student teaching while completing the PACT Teaching Event. The Single Subject program evaluates candidate pedagogical and professional knowledge via course grades and resident teacher evaluations prior to entry into clinical practice and by using the PACT Teaching Event during full time student teaching. While the Preliminary Education Specialist programs are transitioning to new standards, we continue to assess candidate pedagogical and professional knowledge and skills. In the old program, a Portfolio Assessment was used to assess this knowledge and skills at the end of the program. In the new program design, a portfolio assessment is used to evaluate candidates’ pedagogical content and professional knowledge and skills prior to entry to clinical practice while the new “Teaching Event” (i.e., teaching performance assessment) is used at the end of the program to re-examine pedagogical and professional knowledge prior to issuance of the credential. For the Education Specialists program, an analysis and reflection of the old program assessment data helped inform our new design. Thus, candidates in the initial programs must demonstrate beginning level competency in these assessments in order to continue or complete their programs.
The third context for assessment of candidate pedagogical content and professional knowledge and skills is embedded in the evaluations of candidates during clinical practice. In our three initial programs, candidates are evaluated by their resident teachers, as well as their University Supervisors during their clinical practice with the main focus of these assessments being pedagogical content and professional knowledge.
By their nature, pedagogical content knowledge and professional knowledge and skills are specific to the teaching profession and build on theories and principles of learning and instruction. Data show that across the unit, teacher candidates are able to: 1) demonstrate a thorough understanding of professional and pedagogical knowledge and skills delineated in professional, state, and institutional standards; 2) develop meaningful instructional experiences to facilitate learning for all students; and 3) reflect on their practice and make necessary adjustments to enhance student learning. Field Evaluation data compiled by both the university supervisor and mentor teacher show that candidates are able to: 1) understand how a class, small group, or individual students learn, 2) how to make ideas accessible to them, and 3) how to use contextual knowledge of the community, school and family with planning for successful learning. Samples of candidates’ Teacher Work Sample Portfolios provide further evidence of our Target approach to this standard (1.3.g).
Candidates in advanced programs develop expertise in professional and pedagogical knowledge and contribute to the dialogue based on their research and experiences. Moreover, the expectation is that they take on leadership roles in the professional community and collaborate with colleagues to contribute to school improvement and renewal. As in element 1a and b, we have plans to follow-up on advanced candidates’ perceptions of the success of their program in the development of deep pedagogical knowledge and skills through a Program Completer Survey. We plan to include questions that gather data to document how our candidates contribute to the field.
Focus on Student Learning
Our initial teacher candidates attend to student learning. Candidates in all programs analyze the PreK-12 student assessment data, including pre, formative and post assessments to determine students’ progress related to learning goals. Candidates use assessment rubrics, anecdotal reports, and narrative to communicate the performance of the whole class, small groups, and individual students. Candidates use these data to reflect on their performance and make changes to instruction based on data. Data from portfolios and PACT indicate that our candidates can assess, interpret and take the next instructional steps in regard to student learning. Evidence suggests that we are approaching target level with respect to this standard; we acknowledge that this was not always the case. Early PACT results caused us to revisit program coursework and make adjustments to our programs, candidate experiences, instructor awareness and course syllabi to create more focused candidate attention on student learning. We have seen the positive results (Table 1.3.a, 1.3.ijk). In addition, the Education Specialist Teaching Event has only been piloted once so we look forward to examining the outcomes that focus on student learning during the fall 2011 term.
Candidates in our advanced programs for teachers also have a thorough understanding of assessment and student learning. Our Graduate Exit Survey (Tables 1.3.ijk) asks candidates to rate how their program prepared them to meet our advanced learning outcomes that address knowledge and skill in using assessment results to make instructional decisions and to partner with other professionals to help all their students achieve success through designing strategies and interventions that support student learning. Data from the Graduate Exit Survey show that our advanced candidates indicate a high percentage of agreement affirming that they are well prepared to implement assessment and use findings to plan appropriate instruction.
Knowledge and Skills for Other School Professionals
Program documents submitted for the review process demonstrate that our School Professional candidates in PPS and Educational Leadership have an in-depth understanding of knowledge in their fields as delineated in professional, state, and institutional standards and demonstrated through inquiry, critical analysis, and synthesis. Candidate work from a sampling of these programs also demonstrates that our candidates proficiently collect and analyze data related to their work, reflect on their practice, and use research and technology to support and improve student learning.
Student Learning for Other School Professionals
The PPS program is nationally reviewed and accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. The PPS program also is accredited by the CCTC. Program documents submitted for the review process demonstrate that our other School Professional candidates critique and are able to reflect on their work within the context of student learning. Candidate work from a sampling of these programs also demonstrates that our candidates proficiently establish educational environments that support student learning, collect and analyze data related to student learning, and apply strategies for improving student learning within their own jobs and schools.