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Pedagogical content knowledge

Shulman (1987) identified seven categories of essential knowledge for teachers:

  • content knowledge
  • general pedagogical knowledge
  • pedagogical content knowledge
  • curriculum knowledge
  • knowledge of educational contexts
  • knowledge of learners and their characteristics
  • knowledge of educational goals.

These categories have been widely adopted in pre-service teacher education programmes. They are commonly used as the basis for describing essential knowledge at all subsequent stages of teacher development.

Content knowledge

Content knowledge (CK) is the teacher’s knowledge about the subject matter students will learn. It includes knowledge of concepts, theories, ideas, organisational framework, and evidence and proof, as well as the practices and approaches that lead to developing such knowledge (Shulman, 1987).

Pedagogical knowledge

Pedagogical knowledge (PK) is the teacher’s deep understanding of the processes and practices or method of teaching and learning. It includes:

  • understanding the nature of the students
  • having strategies for evaluating the students
  • understanding the cognitive, social and developmental theories of learning and how they apply to the students in the classroom (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

Pedagogical content knowledge

Shulman describes pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) as:

The blending of content and pedagogy into an understanding of how particular topics, problems, or issues are organized, represented, and adapted to the diverse interests and abilities of learners, and presented for instruction.

Shulman, 1987, page 8


Koehler, M. J., and Mishra, P. (2009). “What is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge?” Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), pp. 60–70. 

Shulman, L. S. (1987). “Knowledge and Teaching: Foundations of the New Reform”. Harvard Educational Review, 57, pp. 1–22.

PCK in our learning area

All three subjects in our learning area require an understanding of:

  • critical thinking
  • strategies that reflect the values of social justice
  • the action competence learning process, or other skill-based strategies
  • teaching as inquiry
  • inquiry learning
  • literacy skills.

In addition, health education requires an understanding of:

  • the determinants of health
  • health-promoting strategies (needed for improving the well-being of populations).

In addition, physical education requires an understanding of:

  • the movement culture
  • the biophysical and sociocultural sciences within the study of human movement.

In addition, home economics requires an understanding of:

  • the determinants of health as they affect the individual and the family
  • health-promoting strategies (needed for improving the well-being of populations).

Last updated June 10, 2022