Analysing deep knowledge in the written texts of pre-service teachers

Year: 2012

Author: Humphrey, Sally, Fenwick, Lisl, Quinn, Marie, Endicott, Michele

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Analysing deep knowledge in the written texts of pre-service teachers

In recent years there has been renewed recognition of the importance of knowledge to operate effectively in the professions. While surface level knowledge provides a fundamental basis for development, it is the deep conceptual knowledge that is necessary for transference and application into new contexts. This is particularly important for the profession of teaching, given the current concern to develop curricula within a framework of quality education.  Teachers' knowledge, both of their discipline area and of pedagogy, has been linked to improved student outcomes in diverse contexts and has been found to be imperative for improving outcomes for students from low SES backgrounds. Deep knowledge about language is especially important, as it enables emerging teachers to interpret curriculum documents and to plan for effective learning. Supporting teachers to develop this deep knowledge of language presents a significant challenge to teacher educators in higher learning contexts.

This paper reports on a study which evaluates the extent to which an early unit of an undergraduate pre-service teacher program developed deep knowledge about language and enabled students to transfer and apply this knowledge to subsequent units across the program. Drawing on theories of learning from educational psychology, the sociology of education and social semiotics we propose here a framework for making visible deep and surface knowledge in students' written assignments in their language education and broader pedagogy units. Elements of the framework will be illustrated using examples of students' written texts at various levels and the implications for evaluating development of deep learning will be discussed.