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Opportunities for progression in subject-matter didactics

Conference paper
Authors Maria Svensson
Marie Ståhl
Maria Åström
Björn Friis Johannsen
Git Börjesson
Published in Konferenspresentation på NOFA 7, Stockholms universitet, 13-15 maj, 2019
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies
Language en
Subject categories Other Natural Sciences, Didactics


The professional skills that teachers need when teaching a specific subject has for a long time been of interest and relevance for teacher education. In the teacher education at the University of Gothenburg, this is referred to as subject-matter didactics inspired by both the European tradition and US-inspired Pedagogical Content Knowledge. Another important issue in teacher education, as well as in other educational contexts, is the interest in progression of learning. Progression can be described in different ways, one a matter of individual learning, another, a matter of the extent to which various aspects of the curriculum connect. Research about progression exists, and so does research on what subject-matter didactics knowledge is, and how it can be interpreted and integrated in different educational contexts. However, research investigating the progression of subject-matter didactics knowledge in teacher education is rare. To address this gap, the following research question was formulated: How can progression in subject-matter didactics of science and technology be described in teacher education courses? In an exploratory phase we approached both issues inductively by analysing theories that reflect different perspectives on subject didactic in line with our research question. The study departs in an investigation of our own teaching in the teacher education to thus gather empirical evidence of what, why and how subject-matter didactics appears in courses in the programme, and if and how progression is expressed. The empirical material consists of several observations of lessons and course document analyses directed toward student teachers in primary school teacher programmes inspired and supported by tools previously developed by other researchers in various educational contexts. The results show indications of progression in subject-matter didactics in the courses that links to certain tasks in the courses where students plan, implement and analyse teaching, as well as analyse pupils’ learning. The result also point to tasks with no clear or implicit progression that nevertheless can be interpreted as opportunities to strengthen progression in and between courses and tasks. Examples of such implicit opportunities that were identified are tasks that aim to develop systems-thinking in the subject areas and tasks that engage students in conceptual understanding. The question is whether the teaching we currently have in teacher education, explicitly emphasis subject-matter didactics or if it is something that we take for granted as teacher educators, invisible to students but assumed implied by our teaching.

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