A person who knows and is aware that he knows, is wise, follow him; A person who knows but is not aware that he knows, remind him; A person who doesn't know and is aware that he doesn't know, teach him; A person who doesn't know and pretends to know, is fool, leave him

Bless me in my undertakings Dear God, grant me victory and I shall shout your blessings for all to hear of your power!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tracing the Development of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) in Education: A Literature Review

Ayoub C Kafyulilo
University of Twente
Technology integration in education is currently receiving a great attention from various stakeholders in education worldwide. Both developed and developing nations currently striving to have ICT integrated in the teaching and learning process. This innovation in education requires teachers’ knowledge and readiness to integrate technology in their teaching. According to Fullan (2003), education changes depend on what teachers “think” and “do”. In the situation where teachers do not appreciate the new innovation and have limited knowledge and skills for implementing the new educational innovations, the resulting outcomes are likely to be unwelcoming. Given these facts, previous scholars on education reforms and innovation have paid a significant attention to the development of teachers’ knowledge to fit on the required innovations. Example Shulman (1986, 1987) insisted on the importance of teachers understanding of the pedagogy and content for effective teaching profession. Also during the emergence of the need to integrate technology in education, Koehler & Mishra (2005) and Niess (2005) considered the importance of teachers’ knowledge of technology, pedagogy and content. According to Kohler & Mishra (2005), Mishra & Koehler (2006) and Niess, (2005, 2006) for teachers to effectively integrate technology in their teaching, they need to develop an understanding of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK).

According to Mishra and Koehler (2006) “TPCK is the basis of good teaching with technology and requires an understanding of the representation of concepts using technologies; pedagogical techniques that use technologies in constructive ways to teach content; knowledge of what makes concepts difficult or easy to learn and how technology can help redress some of the problems that students face; knowledge of students’ prior knowledge and theories of epistemology; and knowledge of how technologies can be used to build on existing knowledge and to develop new epistemologies or strengthen old ones” (p. 1029).
Where did TPCK come from?
Efforts to integrate technology in education started as long as in the mid-1980s, when ICTs were introduced in most of the education systems in the world (Pelgrum & Voogt, 2009). During this period when ICT got into education the question was not on how ICT can improve students learning, rather was on developing students’ knowledge and skills of ICT use to meet the emerging life demands of the 21st century. During this era, although technology was introduced in education, it was regarded as discipline on itself (content). This can be proved by the argument made by Mishra and Koehler (2006, p.1028-29) when introducing TPCK, where they argue that the knowledge they were introducing was different from “knowledge of a disciplinary or technology expert …” This can be an evidence that the technological knowledge that predominated in schools prior to TPACK was that of developing technology experts rather than technology as a tools for enhancing students understanding of biology chemistry etc. Technology, during this period was learned in a similar way as Chemistry, Biology or Mathematics. Education reforms during this period were more on the teachers’ knowledge of the content and pedagogy (i.e. pedagogical content knowledge) (Shulman, 1986). In his article; “Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching” Shulman (1986), tries to make it explicitly that this knowledge was not new rather existed for centuries (p.4).  Shulman traced as far back as 1875 when tests for teachers were constructed with consideration of both content and the pedagogy. Shulman used this evidence to build up an argument for the importance of incorporating both content and pedagogy in the teacher education which during his time the content was ignored (Shulman, 1986). Insisting on the importance of the content, Shulman (1986, p. 6) argues that; 
“Whether in the spirit of the 1870s, when pedagogy was essentially ignored, or in the 1980s, when content is conspicuously absent, has there always been a cleavage between the two? Has it always been asserted that one either knows content and pedagogy is secondary and unimportant, or that one knows pedagogy or is not held accountable for content? I propose we look back even further than those 1875 tests for teachers and examine the history of the university as an institutions discern the sources for this distinction between content knowledge and pedagogical method” (Shulman, 1986.6).
In his research, Shulman tried to answer questions such as; what are the sources of knowledge, what does a teacher knows and when did he or she come to know it? How are new knowledge acquired, old knowledge retrieved, and both combined to form a new knowledge base (Shulman, 1986, 1987)? In answering these questions, Shulman distinguishes three categories of content knowledge that a teacher need to develop: (a) subject matter content knowledge, (b) pedagogical content knowledge and (c) curricular knowledge
According to Shulman (1986), content knowledge refers to the amount and organization of knowledge per se in the mind of the teacher. He further argues that to think properly about the content knowledge requires going beyond knowledge of the facts or concepts of a domain and understanding the structures of the subject matter in both substantive and syntactic structures. On the other hand, pedagogical knowledge refers to the most useful forms of representation of the content, the most powerful analogies, illustrations, examples, explanations, and demonstrations in a word, the ways of representing and formulating the subject that make it comprehensible to others (p.9). Pedagogical content knowledge includes the understanding of what makes the learning of specific topics easy or difficult: the conception and preconceptions that students of different ages and backgrounds bring with them to the learning of those most frequently taught topics and lessons (p. 9-10).
Shulman further defines three forms of knowledge; Propositional knowledge, Case knowledge, and Strategic knowledge. He argues that teachers are mostly taught the propositional knowledge and lack the other forms of knowledge. Mishra and Kohler (2006), challenges Shulman on his multiple types of knowledge that teachers need to develop which seem to be inconsistent to one another. However, Shulman (1987), describes the categories of the knowledge base, in which he insist that among those categories, pedagogical content knowledge is of special interest because it identifies the distinctive bodies of knowledge for teaching. He further argue that, PCK represents the blending of content and pedagogy into an understanding of how particular topics, problems, or issues are organized, represented and adapted to the diverse interests and abilities of learners, and presented for instruction. Pedagogical content knowledge is the category most likely to distinguish the understanding of the content specialist from that of the pedagogue. Thus PCK is leading the way (Figure 1).
Figure 1: PCK is the centre of all other education components such as the school, curriculum, subject matter, pedagogy and learner
Example of pedagogical reasoning actions as proposed by Shulman (1987 p.15) includes;
1.      Comprehension of purpose, subject matter structures, ideas within and outside the discipline
2.      Transformation
a.       Preparation: critical interpretation and analysis of texts, structuring and segmenting, developing curricular repertoire and clarification of purpose
b.      Representation: use of representational repertoire which includes analogies, metaphors, examples, demonstrations, explanations and so forth.
c.       Selection: choice from among an instructional repertoire which includes modes of teaching, organizing, managing and arranging.
d.      Adaptation and tailoring to students characteristics: consideration of conceptions, preconceptions, misconceptions, and difficulties, language, culture and motivations, social class, gender, age, ability, aptitude, interests, self-concepts and attention.
3.      Instruction; management, presentation, interactions, group work, discipline, humor, questioning, and other aspects of active teaching, discovery, or inquiry instruction, and the observable forms of classroom teaching.
4.      Evaluation; checking for students understanding during interactive teaching, testing students understanding at the end of lessons or units and evaluating one’s own performance and adjusting for experiences
5.      Reflection; reviewing, reconstructing, re-enacting and critically analysing one’s own and the class’s performance and grounding explanations in evidence.
Shulman (1987) is representing a kind of knowledge that is inseparable from each other. Thus, the pedagogical content knowledge is sketched out as integrated set of knowledge as in figure 2.

Figure 2: The representation of the Pedagogical Content Knowledge
Since its discovery (PCK) in the 1980s, several researches (Carpenter, Fennema, Peterson, and Carey, 1988; Miller, 1991; van Driel, Verloop and De Vos, 1998) were carried out on the effective integration of PCK in teacher education and professional development program to develop PCK among teachers.
The coming up of TPCK
Around 1990s, technology started taking charges in education. Teachers, educationists and policy makers started to inquire on the best way technology can be integrated in education to enhance students learning (Beck & Wynn, 1998; Carr, Jonassen, Litzinger & Marra, 1998; ISTE, 1998; Rosenthal, 1999; Voogt, 1993). The focus of technology as a content started to shift towards technology as a pedagogical tool (Koehler & Mishra, 2005; Mishra & Koehler, 2006; Niess, 2005, 2006). Teachers and education stakeholders started thinking of technology in a broader way, from developing students technological skills (mostly computer skills) to developing students’ ability to capture the concept through the use of technology.  In the mid-2000s is when researchers (Hughes, 2005; Koehler & Mishra, 2005; Mishra & Koehler, 2006; Niess, 2005; Niess, 2006) started to probe the knowledge requirement for a teacher to integrate technology in teaching in the 21st century. Niess (2006) raised some critical questions regarding the kind of knowledge that a teacher needs to develop in order to teach mathematics in the 21st century.
“What will these teachers need to know and be able to do? Here in 2006, most teachers have not learned mathematics using technology tools. So the question now is to identify what and how to prepare mathematics teachers to teach in the 21st century. What do teachers need to know and be able to do and how do they need to develop this knowledge for teaching mathematics?” (Niess, 2006, 1)
A question similar to those raised by Niess (2006) was also raised by Koehler and Mishra (2005) with regards to the kind of knowledge that teachers need to develop; “What do teachers need to know about technology and how can they acquire this knowledge?” (p. 131).
Referring to Shulman (1986), Niess, 2006) argue that to be able to teach, teachers need to develop an integrated knowledge structure that incorporates knowledge about subject matter, learners, pedagogy, curriculum, and schools; they need to develop a pedagogical content knowledge for teaching their subjects (p.2). Similar arguments can also be found in Koehler & Mishra (2005), Mishra and Koehler (2006) also Niess (2005).  Mishra and Koehler (2006), seems to be attracted to the kind of problems that teachers encounters in the process of integrating technology with pedagogy and content. They look back to see the problems that teachers were also encountering during Shulman’s times. According to Mishra and Koehler, “prior to Shulman’s seminal work on PCK, knowledge of content and knowledge of pedagogy were considered separate and independent from each other”. They try to compare the that times problems with the today’s problem where the knowledge of technology is often considered to be separate from the knowledge of pedagogy and content (Mishra & Koehler 2006 p. 1024). Thus, they depict this problems in three circles, two of which (content and pedagogy) overlap as described by Shulman, and one circle (technology) which stands isolated from these two (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Technology is separated from pedagogical content

Niess (2005) proposes that,   “…for technology to become an integral  component or tool for learning, science and mathematics pre-service teachers must also develop an overarching conception of their subject matter with respect to technology and what it means to teach with technology—a technology PCK (TPCK)” (Niess, 2005, p. 510). On the other hand, Koehler and Mishra (2005) quoting several authors (Bromley, 1998; Bruce, 1993; Zhao, 2003; Hickman, 1990) argue that, “for teachers to become fluent with educational technology means going beyond mere competence with the latest tools to developing an understanding of the complex web of relationships between users, technologies, practices, and tools” (p.132). Koehler and Mishra (2005) view teacher knowledge about technology as important, but not separate and unrelated from contexts of teaching i.e., it is not only about what technology can do, but also, and perhaps more importantly, what technology can do for them as teachers. Consistent with the situated view of technology, Koehler and Mishra (2005) proposed a framework describing teachers’ understanding of the complex interplay between technology, content, and pedagogy which is technological pedagogical Content knowledge (TPCK) which occurs as a result of adding together the three components; technology, pedagogy and content (p.132). this means that apart from looking at each of these components in isolation, Mishra and Koehler  (2006, p. 1026) went further  to looking at the circles in pairs; pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), technological content knowledge (TCK), technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK), and all three taken together as technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) (Figure 4).
Figure 4: Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK)
Figure 4 presents a shift from treating pedagogical content knowledge as one entity and technological knowledge as another entity of teachers’ knowledge to treating the three in an integrated form. This shift passes through several stages as illustrated by Niess (2009), Figure 5.
Figure 5: Stages for developing TPCK
Kohler and Mishra (2005), and Mishra and Koehler (2006), argue that good teaching is not simply adding technology to the existing teaching and content domain. Rather, the introduction of technology causes the representation of new concepts and requires developing sensitivity to the dynamic, transactional relationship between all three components suggested by the TPCK framework.  Niess (2005), describe TPCK as the integration of the development of knowledge of subject matter with the development of technology and of knowledge of teaching and learning. And it is this integration of the different domains that supports teachers in teaching their subject matter with technology (p.510). According to Niess (2006), TPCK for teaching with technology means that, as teachers think about particular concepts, they are concurrently considering how they might teach the important ideas embodied in that concepts in such a way that the technology places the concept in a form understandable by their students. Thus, Koehler, Mishra and Yahya (2007) argue that, good teaching with technology requires understanding the mutually reinforcing relationships between technology, pedagogy and content taken together to develop appropriate, context specific strategies and representations.
Why TPCK is called TPACK
For about three years since its establishment (2005-2007) Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge had an acronym of TPCK; where T – Technology, P – Pedagogy, C – Content and K – Knowledge. This sounds perfect and complete. But from 2008, publication about TPCK changed to TPACK. Where is ‘A’ coming from, and what does it mean in the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge? This could sound like an ill question to those who know it queit clearly how TPACK came to replace TPCK. However, it is very clear that the coming in of this TPACK concept caused a lot of confusions to researchers and publishers in education technology. Some publications in some prominent journals from 2008 to around 2010 termed TPACK as Technological Pedagogical And Content Knowledge (cf. Doering, Veletsianos, Scharber and Miller, 2009; Polly & Barbour, 2009). I am not sure how was this conceptualized but I believe that the coming up of ‘A’ in the TPCK, mean “and” to some publishers. The term Technological Pedagogical “and” Content Knowledge was used in many sites and websites eg SITE, innovative learning and many others. It might sound normal or appropriate to call this framework in this way because there is an “A” between “P” and “C” in the framework. However, those who made the model (Koehler & Mishra, 2005; 2008; 2009; Mishra & Koehler, 2006 also Niess, 2005, 2006; Niess et al, 2009) did not put “A” to refer “And”. But what happened then? Why did they bring an “A” into the model? And what is the danger of having a word “and” in the model?
Let me start by answering the last question before I can explain what happened and why was “A” brought into the model. If we bring the phrase “and” in the model the following are likely to be the interpretation of the TPACK and thus, may sound irrelevant to the knowledge teachers need to develop for effective integration of technology.
1.      It might sound like listing. The model shall thus, be supposed to be called technological, pedagogical and content knowledge. This will imply absence of integration. In practice these components are supposed to be interlinked to each other and thus one thing rather than separate components of technology integration (Mishra &Kohler, 2006).
2.      It might imply emphasis; that technology is the first, followed by pedagogy and then content which is wrong. The conceptualization of TPACK, regards all components as equal. The teachers need to have an equal level of competency in content, pedagogy and technology. Just last night I was scrolling on google and came across the following site http://thetransitionteam.weebly.com/for-teachers.html which presents a picture indicating that despite all, the content is still the king; which might be true, our main focus is to enable students to understand concepts, ideas, theories, principles etc (Niess 2005, 2006). Niess looked on how mathematics learning can be improved through the use of technology. Thus in our design, the content is the center, then we move around to look for the best methods to present the content, that is where we talk of pedagogies and technology that can let students learn more easily and understand the content. However, TPACK regards all components as carrying equal weight.
Figure 6: Depicting the kingship of the content
3.      The TPACK model is inseparable (Thompson & Mishra, 2007-2008). TPACK is conceptualized as a Total PACKage, thus putting “and” can make it to sound a different thing.
Now I turn back to the first and second questions; what happened?
There were debates among scholars in education technology about the pronunciation of TPCK. It was sounding difficult for researchers and educators to present the concept of TPCK to in-service and pre-service teachers because of its difficultness to pronounce. Thus, an alternative name that can make everybody comfortable to mention this framework was to be agreed upon among various stakeholders in education technology. I am quoting a short message from Thompson and Mishra regarding the reason for the change.
“…the acronym TPCK has been somewhat problematic. The consonant heavy, TPCK is difficult to say and even getting the letters in the correct order is a challenge for most of us. It is not surprising, thus, that both undergraduate students and in-service teachers tend to be put off when confronted with this unfriendly set of consonants. We have found ourselves apologizing every time we introduce the idea because it does tend to suggest the type of educational jargon for which we educators have received much (justifiable) criticism. TPCK is actually a simple, yet powerful idea and the complicated name and acronym does disservice to its utility and power (Thompson & Mishra, 2007-2008 p. 38)”.
Thompson and Mishra (2007-2008) continue to argue that;
“Since many of us have had similar challenges with the TPCK acronym, one of the agenda items at the recently convened 9th Annual National Technology Leadership Summit was to revisit the name for this important concept. In fact, we asked each of the teacher education association leaders and journal editors attending the summit to create a new, friendlier terminology for TPCK—one that captured its essential qualities and yet was easy to use and remember. During the two-day conference, participants created suggestions for a new name and after much deliberation, the name TPACK (pronounced “tee-pack”) emerged as a substitute”
With this quotation, I am sure I have best answered the third question of that asks why “A” was brought into the model. The easiest conclusion could then be “A – was brought-in just to simplify the pronunciation of this framework; instead of T-P-C-K comes to be Tee-pack, which is easy of course.
The coming up of the context in the framework
Among the things that brought more confusion on the change of the name from TPCK to TPACK was the coming up of the context. Immediately after the change of the name from TPCK to TPACK in 2007 through 2008, Mishra and Koehler (2008) introduced the context into the model.  In their 2008 article they used the term TPACK for the first time and it was in the same paper they emphasized the importance of the context. Researchers and scholars who missed the article by Thompson & Mishra (2007-2008), including me, thought that the “A” was brought together with the context and thus, was referring the “context”. I was among those who stood before the crowd of people in the E-Learning Africa Conference in 2011 in Tanzania to tell them that “A” was representing the “context”. “This was wrong”. Mishra & Koehler (2008) brought-in the context after viewing the process of teaching with technology as a “wicked problem”. “One way of thinking about teaching with technology is to view it as a “wicked problem” in which the goal is to find the right combination of technologies, teaching approach, and instructional goals (p. 2)”. According to Mishra & Koehler (2008) working with wicked problems is a process of utilizing expert knowledge to design solutions that honor the complexities of the situations and the contexts presented by learners and classrooms. For this reason their model had to change and appear within a shadow called the context where technology integration should play around (Fig. 7).
Figure 7: The coming up of the context into the TPACK framework.
Next week we will see;
The current TPACK model
What does TPACK mean to the pre-service and inservice science teachers?
What are the professional development programs suitable for the development of TPACK?
Till next week

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