Analysis of content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge of pre-service-chemistry teachers regarding the fundamental concept of ‘structure-property-relations’

The intention of this dissertation was the development of adequate, i.e. reliable and valid, test instruments for assessing pre-service teachers’ content knowledge (CK) and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) were developed. For this, the fundamental concept ‘structure-property-relations’ was chosen as the focus, covering comparable issues in a large variety of topics. The fundamental concept as well as reasons for its selection are provided together with a presentation of literature on student difficulties focusing both on secondary and tertiary level. Also, item development as well as the use of these resulting instruments in a cross-sectional study are described. Apart from assessing pre-service teachers’ subject-specific knowledge, the items are analyzed regarding possible factors influencing their difficulty. A qualitative analysis of answers to CK items reveals that pre-service teachers exhibit problems comparable to those described in literature. For CK, the following factors could be identified to explain variance in test outcomes: gender, successfully passing exams in organic chemistry, grade in school leaving certificate, last school grade in chemistry, and having studied chemistry in upper secondary. For PCK, those factors are gender, successfully passing exams in teaching chemistry, successfully passing exams in organic chemistry, the participants’ teaching program, the progress in their studies, as well as the grade in school leaving certificate. The combinations of factors explain 34.6% and 23.0% of variance in test results on CK and PCK, respectively. A dimensional analysis of knowledge presents CK and PCK to be separable but related dimensions, with a latent correlation between both dimensions of .72. In a subsequent step, the measures on structure-property-relations are combined with those on chemical representations, which have been developed and tested by another researcher (Taskin, 2014). A resulting dimensional analysis show all four dimensions to be separable and the dimensions showing latent correlations between the two CK dimensions of .87 and between the two PCK dimensions of .67. In the end, results are discussed, deriving at both suggestions for further research studies and a short practitioner’s perspective on the topic.


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