What do chemistry tutors understand about teaching chemistry?

Associate Professor Bette Davidowitz will present the Department of Chemistry seminar with a talk entitled, " What do chemistry tutors understand about teaching chemistry?"

In 1986 Shulman defined pedagogical content knowledge, PCK, as the transformation of content knowledge from teachers’ personal understanding into various forms that could help students to understand a particular topic.  PCK is well established in the education research community and there is general consensus that PCK is knowledge unique to teachers and different from, but supported by content knowledge, CK. This study examines the performance of tutors (chemistry subject matter specialists) in relation to teachers on two tests in organic chemistry, one on CK and a second to measure PCK. In the CK test the mean performance of both groups was high and at about the same level but the two groups performed differently in some sub-topics. There was differential performance in the PCK test where the chemists were superior at describing the use of a variety of structural representations of pentane for teaching and showed unanticipated competence in the selection and sequencing of the big ideas for teaching. However tutors were not proficient in recognising and confronting misconceptions or suggesting conceptual teaching strategies. Further research is required to determine whether these findings are unique to the topic of organic chemistry.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - 16:00

Lecture theatre 3, PD Hahn, Upper Campus, UCT