PCK and TPCK as a math teacher

I first came across the concept of PCK and TPCK in ETEC 511 last summer and the concept has stuck with me since then because I think it perfectly captures what I wish to learn from my experiences in the MET program. Before I was a Math teacher, I worked several co-op jobs in the IT industry, where I worked with many people that had strong technical backgrounds. They had experience not only in using technology, but also in building software and the likes. Upon reflection, if those people were put in a classroom, would it make them effective teachers? Not necessarily, because teaching with technology versus utilizing technology are very different things. On the flip side, being a seasoned veteran teacher doesn’t mean that they would be able to pick up any piece of educational software, and be effective at using it to teacher. Between knowing how to use technology, and teaching, there must be a bridge between these two very different knowledge domains, and I think Mishra and Koehler (2006)’s TPCK presents the idea quite well.

One of the most classic example what I consider to be TPCK in the realm of Mathematical teaching comes with the use of graphing technology. As a high school math teacher, one of the most important tools at the senior levels is graphing technology because it allows learners to visualize many of the concepts taught in class. The graphing calculator is a tool that can be used to simplify calculations, to assess learning, and for users to potentially explore creating mathematical tools through programming. In order to effectively teach with a graphing calculator, a teacher must first have the requisite mathematical knowledge and also the pedagogical skills to deliver the content, or otherwise, they must have the PCK needed to teach the course. TPCK takes this knowledge to another level, as teachers must learn ways to teach students how to use the calculator effectively, or in different situations, use graphing software to demonstrate concepts to students.

  • Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. The Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. Text accessible from Google Scholar.

One comment

  1. HI Gary

    Thanks for sharing your perspective on the IT co-op experience. I agree with you on the statement: ” if those people were put in a classroom, would it make them effective teachers? Not necessarily, because teaching with technology versus utilizing technology is very different things.” For example, I am in an IT industry and met tons of talented software engineers who can write codes no time. However, they often have difficulty in explaining even simple programming concepts. I believed that subject matter expertise don’t guarantee effective teaching.

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