Conceptions about learning and teach geography through the concept of pedagogical content knowledge

Nga Yee Irene CHENG, Philip G. STIMPSON

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


The paper addresses the student teachers' problem in interpreting and translating subject matter into forms comprehensible by pupils. This ability to integrate subject matter, curriculum knowledge and a knowledge of learners is referred to as pedagogical content knowledge or PCK (Shulman, 1986b). A two-year case study of the development of PCK exhibited by two contrasting cases of geography student teachers was conducted, on the underpinning belief that PCK would change, and should definitely change, during training. The study has two major objectives, namely, to explore the pattern and variations of student teachers' conceptions of geographical PCK; and to discuss the factors that determined the path taken. A phenomenographic approach was used to analyse interview data collected at key points in training. The findings illuminated that the student teachers' conceptions shifted in varying ways and to varying degrees during training, as their PCK grew. These varied paths reflected in particular differences in personality, aspirations, past learning experiences and practical concerns. Data revealed that as their training progressed, the two student teachers developed more sophisticated conceptions of PCK. At the lowest level, this was seen merely as how to present geographical information superficially. At higher levels they became increasingly aware of subject matter-pedagogy integration. This diversity in the essence of learning to teach, and the fact that the interrelated tensions behind this demonstrated vividly within the interviews corroborating findings elsewhere, was striking. The study hence implies a shift in the underpinning rationale of teacher education, towards a "humanistic" teacher education programme for preparing geography teacher, in alignment with their various pathways in the development of PCK. A revolutionary change in the teacher education curriculum is anticipated.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2004


Cheng, I. N. Y., & Stimpson, P. G. (2004, July). Conceptions about learning and teach geography through the concept of pedagogical content knowledge. Paper presented at the International Council on Education for Teaching (ICET) World Assembly 2004: Teachers as learners: Building communities for professional development, Hong Kong, China.


  • Teacher Education
  • Development of Subject Knowledge
  • Social Sciences and Humanities


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