The Influence of Teachers' Knowledge on Student Learning in Middle School Physical Science Classrooms
Issue/Topic: Curriculum--Science; Teaching Quality--Preparation
Author(s): Cook-Smith, Nancy; Coyle, Harold; Miller, Jaimie; Sadler, Philip; Sonnert, Gerhard
Organization(s): Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Publication: American Educational Research Journal
Published On: 1/1/2013
There is little agreement on exactly what kinds of knowledge are most important for teachers to possess--deep knowledge of the subject matter, or an understanding of what students think. Is there an optimal combination of different types of knowledge?
To test two hypotheses: whether teachers’ knowledge of a science concept predicts student gains on that concept; and whether teachers’ knowledge of common student misperceptions to a concept they are teaching also predicts student gains on that concept.
- Subject matter knowledge is an important predictor of student learning.
- Teachers who know their students' most common misconceptions are more effective than teachers who do not. This may allow teachers to construct experiences, demonstrations, experiments, or discussions that make students commit to and then test their own ideas.
- On items which students did not exhibit misconceptions, teacher subject matter knowledge alone accounted for higher student gain.
- A multiple-choice assessment instrument designed to measure student gains can be effectively "repurposed" to measure teacher subject matter knowledge and knowledge of student misconceptions.
- It is important to examine teacher knowledge surrounding particular concepts because student performance at the item level is associated with teacher knowledge of a particular concept.
- This study suggests that teacher preparation and professional development programs should consider that an emphasis on identifying and remediating holes in the teachers' knowledge may be more helpful for the science teachers' effectiveness in the middle school classroom than developing a deep understanding of only a few particular topics. http://aer.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/03/06/0002831213477680.full.pdf+html
Identical assessment instruments based on the National Science Education Standards with 20 items in common were administered several times during the school year to students and their teachers.
181 middle school science teachers and their 9,556 students
Year data is from:
Study was run during the 2006-2007 school year with test items that were field tested in 2003.
Data Collection and Analysis:
Administered formative assessments to students and their teachers several times during the school year. Student assessments gauged their misconceptions about physical science. Teachers were assessed for subject matter knowledge.
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