Teacher educators' perspectives on Pedagogical Content Knowledge for secondary school Economics teaching
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Learners do not perform well in the Economics examination in the annual National Senior Certificate examinations, which explains the decline in the number of learners who opt to do Economics as a school subject. One way of countering this, would be Economics teachers who are able to raise the level of learner performance. This challenges institutions involved in teacher education to develop high-calibre Economics teachers. Teacher educators, responsible for curriculum design and implementation of subject-specific methodology courses in subjects like Economics, are central to this enterprise, but little is known about these individuals and the rationale behind their selection of curriculum content. This study explores the nature of the content included in Economics methodology modules, and teacher educators' reasons for including it. In the process, insight is provided into the profiles and perspectives of teacher educators as curriculum makers and shapers of future Economics teachers. A qualitative methodology was employed for this study, situated in an idealist interpretive paradigm. Purposive sampling was used to select the participants, five teacher educators at research-intensive South African universities, who taught an Economics methodology module in the Post Graduate Certificate of Education programme. The data collection instrument was semi-structured interviews with teacher educators. Module outlines were also collected and analysed to determine the content prescribed for prospective Economics teachers. An interpretivist phenomenological analysis (IPA) of the interviews helped to reveal the Economics teaching experiences of teacher educators. It seems that they are diverse, experienced individuals, convinced of their responsibility to model ideal teaching to their students. The three main themes that emerged from a synchronous analysis of the curriculum documents by means of qualitative content analysis are: the nature of the Economics methodology modules; the nature of delivery; and the theoretical influences that guided teacher educators in the compilation and teaching of the modules. The results indicated that that South African school policy drives the selection of content for Economics methodology modules, and that a large portion of the modules focused on developing the general pedagogic competencies of prospective Economics teachers. The nature of delivery suggested an interactive, collaborative approach to the teaching of the module. It seems that constructivism and socio-constructivism are the major theories that underpin the design and teaching of the modules. The teacher educators in the study seem to be aware of the demands of teaching Economics in diverse South African school contexts, and are therefore committed to preparing prospective Economics teachers for these challenges. However, Economics teacher education does not seem to have a clear theoretical framework. This suggests that teacher educators need support and continuous professional development to help them redesign Economics methodology modules.
- Education