Content vs process: Reflections on pre-service primary teachers' approach to integrated social education

Year: 2007

Author: Tambyah, Mallihai

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The essential knowledge base of teaching centres on subject content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and curricular knowledge. This paper investigates, from the perspective of teacher educators, what levels of subject content knowledge are needed by primary teachers in order to teach an integrated social education curriculum effectively At university, pre-service primary teachers need the opportunity to engage with curriculum, the theory and practice of social education and develop viable classroom units. Drawing on the reflective practitioner model of teaching, this paper examines the views of five teacher educators involved in the teaching of an undergraduate university subject in integrated social education (SOSE) curriculum. Data gathered from teacher educators' personal reflections and follow-up structured group discussion indicate that subject content knowledge, as revealed in SOSE units, was often superficial, while understanding of concepts and skills was also sometimes limited. However, understanding of the inquiry learning process, which is fundamental to social education, was much stronger. This preliminary study adds to an on-going debate on where the focus of pre-service teacher education should be regarding essential knowledge for teachers.