Pedagogical behaviour in pre-service teachers drops with increasing content knowledge


  • Christine Lindstrom University of New South Wales Sydney
  • Megan C Engel University of Alberta
  • Vinesh M Rajpaul The University of Cambridge


Pedagogical content knowledge, pre-service teachers, astronomy education research, science education, science teacher education


We present the results of a novel study investigating the relationship between pre-service science teachers’ content knowledge and pedagogical behaviour and how these evolve over time. Forty-one pre-service science teachers at the largest teacher education institution in Norway (Oslo Metropolitan University) were tested before and after a 12-hour module on astronomy at the end of the second and final physics course in the Bachelor of Teaching degree. Three free-response questions in the established Norwegian Introductory Astronomy Questionnaire (NIAQ) elicited astronomy knowledge and gave respondents an opportunity to engage in pedagogy. Student responses were analysed along two separate dimensionscontent knowledge and pedagogical behaviour (student-centred vs. teacher-centred)and interpreted in the framework of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK). Overall, we find that the pre-service teachers become more knowledgeable after instruction (responses marked as ‘knowledgeable’ increased from 39% to 61%), even though a significant fraction remain disconcertingly ignorant. More notably, however, the pre-service teachers also displayed a strong trend of becoming less student-centred (from 36% to 11% of responses) as their content knowledge increased, merely stating the correct - or presumed correct - response without showing any concern for the hypothetical students in the question.

Author Biographies

Christine Lindstrom, University of New South Wales Sydney

Christine Lindstrom is a Lecturer in the School of Physics at UNSW Sydney. She runs the Physics Education Research for Evidence Centred Teaching (PERfECT) group jointly with A/Prof Elizabeth Angstmann.

Megan C Engel, University of Alberta

Megan C. Engel is a Killam postdoctoral fellow in the Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Research Innovation at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

Vinesh M Rajpaul, The University of Cambridge

Vinesh M. Rajpaul is a Royal Astronomical Society Norman Lockyer Fellow & Emmanuel College Research Fellow based in the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, and a visiting researcher at the University of Oxford.