Addressing Student Diversity in Science Classroom: Exploring Topic-Specific Personal Pedagogical Content Knowledge of High School Teachers

Abstract: The student diversity in today’s science classrooms presents challenges as well as learning opportunities for students and teachers. This research examines topic-specific personal pedagogical content knowledge (pPCK) of high school teachers as it relates to addressing student diversity in their science classrooms. A narrative inquiry approach was adopted to study four science teachers’ experiences of teaching science, considering teachers’ pPCK as an accumulation of experience. Narrative data were collected through interview conversations with these teachers about their experiences of conceptualizing and teaching force and motion topics to diverse groups of students in their science classrooms. The focus of these conversations was the day-to-day practice of participant teachers about making force and motion topics accessible to diverse learners. Using pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) as a conceptual framework, the narrative data were analyzed to explore how these teachers negotiated their content knowledge and knowledge of student diversity in shaping their professional knowledge of science teaching. The findings revealed that topic-specific pPCK of participant teachers was sourced in student diversity present in their science classroom, and its development underpins various processes to connect different types of knowledge. This research suggests considering teachers’ knowledge of student diversity and how this impacts their planning and teaching of specific science content as an aspect of their topic-specific pPCK. Implications for science teacher education are included.

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