Content knowledge

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Definition
Content knowledge refers to the body of knowledge –facts, theories, principles, ideas, vocabulary– which teachers must master to be effective. Teachers should have a deep understanding of the subject they teach and corresponding curriculum (subject content knowledge).

The liaison between content and pedagogical knowledge determines teachers’ decisions about materials, instructional approaches, assessment of students’ learning and feedback, among others (Cooper and Alvarado, 2006; Bold et al., 2017).

In addition to content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge allows teachers to ‘know how to organize and present the content in a way that makes it accessible for increasingly diverse groups of learners’ (Shulman, 1987, cited by Cooper and Alvarado, 2006:5). Pedagogical content knowledge is ‘a conceptual map of how to teach a subject; knowledge of instructional strategies and representations; knowledge of students’ understanding and potential misunderstandings; and knowledge of curriculum and curricular materials’ (Villegas-Reimers, 2003: 39).

Content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge are complemented by teachers’ general pedagogical knowledge, as well as skills, attitudes, and beliefs.

References
Bold, T.; Svensson, K.; Molina, E.; Stacy, B. W.; Rockmore, C.; Martin, G.; Filmer, D. P.; Wane, W. 2017. What do teachers know and do? Does it matter? Evidence from primary schools in Africa. Washington, D.C.: World Bank. Retrieved from: https://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/882091485440895147/pdf/WPS7956.pdf

Cooper, J.M.; Alvarado A. 2006. Preparation, recruitment and retention of teachers. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001520/152023e.pdf

Shulman, L.S. 1987. ‘Knowledge and Teaching: Foundations of the New Reform’. In: Harvard Educational Review, 51, 1-22. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.57.1.j463w79r56455411

Villegas-Reimers, E. 2003. Teacher professional development: an international review of the literature. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000133010

The Glossary of Education Reform. 2016. ‘Content knowledge’. Accessed 17 April 2018: https://www.edglossary.org/content-knowledge/

To explore further
Bold, T.; Svensson, K.; Molina, E.; Stacy, B. W.; Rockmore, C.; Martin, G.; Filmer, D. P.; Wane, W. 2017. What do teachers know and do? Does it matter? Evidence from primary schools in Africa. Washington, D.C.: World Bank. Retrieved from: https://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/882091485440895147/pdf/WPS7956.pdf

Cooper, J.M.; Alvarado A. 2006. Preparation, recruitment and retention of teachers. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001520/152023e.pdf

Global Education Monitoring Report Team; International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030. 2020. Inclusive teaching: preparing all teachers to teach all students. Policy Paper 43. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000374447?posInSet=6&queryId=3ce6cc2e-55a8-46dc-b655-d58e3b9c041f

IIEP-UNESCO. 2019. On the road to inclusion: highlights from the UNICEF and IIEP Technical Round Tables on Disability-inclusive Education Sector Planning. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000372193

Tournier, B.; Chimier, C.; Childress, D.; Raudonyte, I. 2019. Teacher career reforms: Learning from experience. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.iiep.unesco.org/en/publication/teacher-career-reforms-learning-experience

Villegas-Reimers, E. 2003. Teacher professional development: an international review of the literature. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000133010

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