Executive Summary

Teachers possess highly-specialised knowledge that continually transforms as new knowledge emerges from practice and research or is shared through professional communities. Pedagogical knowledge, that is, knowledge of teaching and learning, refers to the specialised body of knowledge of teachers for creating effective teaching and learning environments for their students. There is agreement that competence in teaching requires a high level of pedagogical knowledge, but there is still the need to assess teacher knowledge as an outcome of teacher education systems and as a predictor of effective teaching and student achievement. These questions are important for OECD countries to improve the policies of the teaching workforce, including initial teacher education, induction and mentoring, and professional development. This publication therefore aims to summarise and synthesise conceptual and empirical work that can contribute to policy development in this area.

Pedagogical Knowledge and the Changing Nature of the Teaching Profession is based on an OECD/Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) Symposium on “Teachers as Learning Specialists – Implications for Teachers’ Pedagogical Knowledge and Professionalism” held in June 2014 in collaboration with the Flemish Department of Education and Training. It brings together research from the OECD Secretariat and papers by leading experts to examine the current status of teachers’ knowledge base and implications for the instructional process. It is structured in three parts as follows.

Teacher knowledge and the teaching profession

Knowledge dynamics may be viewed as a complex system, in which multiple actors interact to shape teachers’ knowledge. This includes the importance of empowering teacher educators and teachers themselves to take charge of teachers knowledge base.

Part I provides a broad contextual view on teachers’ knowledge by investigating the knowledge dynamics in the profession and how teachers’ knowledge is described in some key documents.

The introductory chapter by Sonia Guerriero and Karolina Deligiannidi presents a contextual overview of the teaching profession and the rationale for investigating teachers’ pedagogical knowledge.

The chapter by Nóra Révai and Sonia Guerriero reviews the literature on knowledge dynamics in the teaching profession and proposes a framework of analysis consisting of structural, functional and social dimensions. The authors argue that targeting the improvement of teacher learning, with a special focus on strengthening the links between the agents of teacher learning, is an approach that has potential to facilitate the dynamics of teachers’ knowledge.

Diana Toledo-Figueroa, Nóra Révai and Sonia Guerriero’s chapter explores how teachers’ professionalism and pedagogical knowledge are manifested through qualifications frameworks and professional standards. Using the metaphor of a “knowledge wall”, the authors illustrate how the two frameworks relate to each other and examine how different types of knowledge components are described in five professional standards.

Measuring teacher knowledge and professional competence: Challenges and opportunities

General pedagogical knowledge is relevant for high quality instruction, but teachers’ affective-motivational characteristics also matter.

Part II explores conceptual and empirical work on teachers’ pedagogical knowledge and how to measure pedagogical knowledge as an indicator of teacher quality.

First, Sonia Guerriero’s chapter reviews the empirical literature on teachers’ pedagogical knowledge. The review includes the teaching and learning process, teacher knowledge and its relationship to student learning outcomes, how teachers apply their knowledge in decision-making and how pedagogical knowledge is learned and developed. The author concludes by summarising implications for teacher education.

Sigrid Blömeke’s chapter proposes a multidimensional model of teacher competence that includes both cognitive and affective-motivational facets. Blömeke models teacher competence as a continuum that includes perception, interpretation and decision-making skills as mediating processes in the transformation of knowledge into performance. The author presents empirical studies that measure teacher competence. In particular she draws the attention to the various challenges of assessing situation-specific teacher skills.

In the next chapter, Kathleen Stürmer and Tina Seidel introduce the concept of “professional vision” to show how teachers draw on their generic pedagogical knowledge about effective teaching and learning to notice and interpret relevant features of classroom situations. The authors present a tool with which future teachers’ professional vision can be assessed. Their findings reveal that both formal and informal opportunities to learn are related to higher levels of professional vision.

In this chapter, Johannes König explores the relationship between motivations for teaching and the general pedagogical knowledge of teachers to further examine the underlying motivational factors that drive expert teaching. The empirical studies presented suggest that teaching motivations influence knowledge acquisition during initial teacher education. The author recommends further exploring the relationship between motivation and teaching in future research.

Finally, Fani Lauermann describes different theory-driven conceptualisations of teacher motivation, and explores teachers’ “self-responsibility” as a motivational construct to understand how teachers perceive their professional responsibilities. The author argues that besides knowledge and skills, teachers’ motivational characteristics, such as their beliefs about their teaching abilities, expectancies and values and perceived responsibilities are necessary ingredients of teacher professionalism. She also highlights some methodological and theoretical challenges to be addressed in future work.

21st Century Demands on Teacher Knowledge

Emerging evidence has the potential to broaden teachers’ pedagogical knowledge about student learning however more is required to be able to improve pedagogy, teacher education and professional development of teachers.

Part III is designed to be forward-looking and explores the impact of 21st century demands on teachers’ knowledge and the teaching profession.

Daniel Ansari, Johannes König, Marilyn Leask and Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa make a case for teachers to incorporate findings from the “Science of Learning” into their knowledge base. Ansari and his colleagues argue that teachers play a key role in shaping the brains of their students. Teachers who understand basic neuroscience concepts and the mechanisms that underlie learning can enhance the cognitive engagement of their students and help realise the potential for each and every student to learn.

James Pellegrino’s chapter is based on a review on definitional issues regarding 21st century skills and terms like ‘deep learning’ and ‘transfer of knowledge.’ The author reviews the state of empirical evidence showing that these various competencies matter for success in endeavours such as education, work and other aspects of adult life, but that there are challenges in teaching for transfer and assessment.

Bringing together the work in this volume, the last chapter by Sonia Guerriero and Nóra Révai presents a new conceptual framework of teachers’ professional competence. It formulates three interconnected challenges regarding pedagogy, teacher learning and the teaching profession. Finally, the chapter proposes a study that would contribute to filling the evidence gaps and addressing the challenges highlighted in this volume.