Subject Expertise and Teachers’ Knowledge

in Journal of Teaching in Physical Education

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Paul G. SchemppUniversity of Georgia

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Dean ManrossClayton County Public Schools

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Steven K.S. TanNanyang University, Singapore

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Matthew D. FincherUniversity of South Carolina—Spartanburg

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The purpose of the study was to ascertain the influence of subject matter expertise on teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge. Data were collected through multiple, extended interviews with 10 teachers with expertise in at least 1 subject area in physical education. Each teacher was interviewed 4 times for approximately 1 hour, focusing on the teacher’s familiarity with 2 content areas (1 expert and 1 nonexpert) and their experiences teaching the subjects. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative technique. The findings were presented with reference to Grossman’s (1990) definition of pedagogical content knowledge. Subject experts identified their largest pedagogical problem as student motivation, while nonexperts believed finding appropriate activities was their greatest challenge. Subject experts were more comfortable and enthusiastic about pedagogical duties and could accommodate a greater range of abilities. The experts and nonexperts revealed no differences in curricular selection, perceptions of students’ understanding of the subject, or evaluation criteria.

Paul G. Schempp is with the Curriculum and Instruction Laboratory at the University of Georgia, Ramsey Center, Athens, GA 30602. Dean Manross is with the Clayton County Public School, Pointe South Elementary, Riverdale, GA 30274. Steven K.S. Tan is with the Department of Physical Education at Nanyang University in Singapore. Matthew D. Fincher is with the Department of Physical Education at the University of South Carolina, Spartanburg, SC 29301.

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