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Title: Conceptions of subject knowledge in primary initial teacher training : the perspectives of student teachers and teacher educators
Author: Pope, D.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 8430
Awarding Body: Liverpool John Moores University
Current Institution: Liverpool John Moores University
Date of Award: 2017
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This study is about the ways in which the term subject knowledge is conceptualised and interpreted by student teachers, university tutors and school mentors in the context of undergraduate primary initial teacher training (ITT) in two post-1992 university providers. Subject knowledge has been a consistent feature of the policy context of ITT over decades, although disparities are apparent between the rhetoric of policy directives, the theoretical knowledge base and how primary teachers’ subject knowledge is represented, and enacted, in communities of practice in primary ITT. The conceptual framework for the research is underpinned by Shulman’s (1987) theoretical knowledge bases for teaching, and draws significantly on the conceptual tools of culture, practice and agents in educational settings, provided by Ellis’s (2007) situated model of subject knowledge. The perspective of the individual is developed further by utilising Kelchtermans’s (2009) personal interpretative framework. An additional lens is provided by the external political context, within which primary ITT is located. The research adopted an inductive, interpretative approach that incorporated multiple methods to construct a bricolage. Data collection included semi-structured questionnaires, semi-structured interviews that incorporated the production of visual data, and content analysis of documents. The study indicates that subject knowledge was understood by participants as an umbrella term representing general teacher knowledge, rather than as a critically distinct concept. Overall, there was a general lack of emphasis on subject-specific pedagogical knowledge evident in the discourse around subject knowledge for primary teaching. Conceptualisations of subject knowledge were highly individualistic. The findings indicated that the culture and practice in different contexts is interpreted and experienced in very different ways by individuals to influence their interpretations of subject knowledge and its place in pedagogy. Thus, this study makes an original contribution to knowledge in the field by: 1) mapping the details of the conceptualisations of subject knowledge held by student primary teachers, university tutors and school mentors in the context of undergraduate primary ITT, to identify commonalities, and disparities, with the theoretical knowledge base; and 2) identifying and examining cross-contextual and personal influences on conceptions of subject knowledge and in so doing, extending and adapting Ellis’s (2007) model of subject knowledge, to the specific context of undergraduate primary ITT.
Supervisor: Jones, M. ; Stanley, G. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: LB Theory and practice of education ; LB1501 Primary Education