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The Veritable Quandary of Measuring Teacher Content Knowledge in a Math and Science Partnership


"How can teachers gain the knowledge of mathematics or science to successfully teach? To address this question, a number of researchers are heavily engaged in specifying the professional knowledge that mathematics and science teachers need and what course work would provide the skills and abilities to develop professional knowledge. The beginning of contemporary efforts to explore teachers' professional knowledge is typically attributed to Lee Shulman and his presidential address at the 1985 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, entitled "Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching." In the published version of that address, Shulman (1986) suggested that "we distinguish among three categories of content knowledge: (a) subject matter content knowledge, (b) pedagogical content knowledge, and (c) curricular knowledge" (p. 9). Educational scholars have built upon and extended Shulman's seminal work on teachers' professional knowledge, particularly within the domains of subject matter and pedagogical content knowledge (Ball, Thames & Phelps, 2005). This paper provides an account of the difficulty of measuring subject-matter content knowledge and the philosophical and practical problems that occurred in this math and science partnership in the early years as well as possible solutions for the future."