Powell, David James
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of emphasizing a pragmatic epistemological orientation on the development of pedagogical content knowledge with pre-service social studies teachers. The study began with a re-conceptualization of pedagogical content knowledge for social studies teaching that accounted for changes in the substantive and syntactic structures of the disciplines comprising social studies as a school subject. In addition, the study was commenced in a program that emphasized the development of democratic rationales for social studies teaching. The integration of a re-conceptualized model of pedagogical content knowledge with an emphasis on democratic teaching resulted in the creation of a new suggested paradigm for social studies teacher education identified as Òpurposeful and knowledgeable practice,Ó or PKP. Various forms of qualitative data were collected as participants proceeded through a course on social studies curriculum specifically designed to emphasize educational pragmatism and PKP, then were observed and interviewed during their student teaching internships. During the curriculum course, students participated in activities that included writing responses to reading assignments, participating in class discussions, and posting to an online message board affiliated with the course. During the student teaching semester, three participants selected from the curriculum course were observed and interviewed and the data collected was used to develop a multiple case analysis of their experiences. The studyÕs findings suggest that placing emphasis on pragmatic ways of thinking about social studies content can result in more sophisticated teaching when compared to traditional approaches taken in social studies classes, though each of the participants struggled to connect pragmatism to notions of democratic teaching. Findings also suggest that development of pedagogical content knowledge for social studies teaching among teacher candidates is difficult work that should be pursued over several semesters of teacher education, rather than in a single course as it was here. Finally, the study reiterated the importance of maintaining close relationships between teacher candidates and their teacher education programs during the student teaching semester and suggested that formal teacher education can, and should, play an enduring role in the development of social studies teachers.