Teacher education programmes are expected to provide adequate knowledge and skills to the student teachers to prepare them for teaching students in the future (Cochran-Smith, 2006). After they graduate from these programmes, they continue to develop additional pedagogical knowledge and skills, such as curriculum planning and classroom management, during the beginning years of their teaching career (Feiman-Nemser, 2001).
The purpose of this study is to investigate the development of beginning teachers' pedagogical knowledge and skills in teaching in Singapore. This six-year longitudinal study tracked a cohort of beginning teachers from the beginning of their teacher education programme in 2005 to the end of their fifth year of teaching in 2011. The Pedagogical Knowledge and Skills in Teaching (PKST) survey (Choy, Lim, Chong & Wong, 2012) was used to collect data at the beginning of the one-year post graduate teacher education programme (T1); at the end of the programme (T2); at the end of their first (T3), second (T4), third (T5) and fifth year (T6) of teaching.
Confirmatory Factor Analysis was used to derive six factors from the 37-item PKST survey to measure the beginning teachers' pedagogical knowledge and skills in teaching respectively. The six factors are: Student Learning, Lesson Planning, Instructional Support, Accommodating Diversity, Classroom Management and Care and Concern (TLI = 0.92, CFI = 0.93, RMSEA = 0.05). There were four to seven items in each factor. The Cronbach alpha for the instrument was 0.97. The sample consists of 149 student teachers who voluntarily participated in all six data collections conducted in the six-year period.
Multiple analyses of variance (MANOVA) for repeated measures showed that there were significant differences in the participants' overall pedagogical knowledge and skills in teaching. Their pedagogical knowledge increased from 3.46 in T1 to 4.02 in T6. Their skills in teaching increased from 3.44 in T1 to 3.94 in T6. Further comparisons showed that there were significant increases in most of the six factors between beginning and end of their teacher education programme (T1 vs. T2); end of first year and third year of teaching (T3 vs. T5); and end of third year and fifth year of teaching (T5 vs. T6). It would seem that, overall, teachers' pedagogical knowledge and skills continue to grow in the beginning phase of their teaching career. The results of the study and their implications will be further elaborated during the presentation.