Developing the act of knowledge transformation through self-study: teaching about stars

Makwela, Tshiamiso Neo
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The research study focused on me as a teacher: how I went about learning the content knowledge of stars and also learning how to transform that content knowledge into the knowledge of teaching. In addition, it also looked at how my own pedagogical practices may influence the learning and understanding of the topic of ‘stars’ to pre-service teachers; in serving the goal of enabling me as a teacher to improve my own practice. A self-study research methodology was employed in this study where an action research approach was used in collecting data and analysing it. The data was collected through the use of concept maps, a questionnaire, and interviews with students as well as video recording of the lesson. During this research study, I was in a continuous reflective process, whereby I was going through the stages of an action research study (plan, act, observe and reflect) to enable me to improve and develop both my content knowledge and how I transform it in ways that will be accessible to the students. According to Shulman (1987) Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) is a special kind of knowledge which makes the teacher to be different from other professions. Shulman (1987) argued that the transformation of subject matter knowledge (Content knowledge) is the process which leads to the development of a teachers’ PCK. More so, PCK is a product of transformation of content knowledge. Therefore, when that transformation is done in a particular topic “e.g. stars” then the version of PCK generated is the “Topic Specific PCK”. Topic Specific Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TSPCK) was the theoretical framework which underpinned the study. This is because it is through the components of TSPCK as stipulated by Mavhunga and Rollnick (2013) in which the transformation of Content knowledge can occur. Concept maps were an effective tool in ensuring progressive learning. The concept maps which I constructed in this study made me aware of my own misconceptions, errors and missing knowledge gaps in my content knowledge of stars. Therefore, the concept maps helped me to move to more accurate conceptions with the assistance of the interventions such as planetarium visits, astronomy evenings as well as visits to the library. The interventions enabled me to acquire new content knowledge which was then captured by the concept maps. Gaining content knowledge was necessary for me to be able to transform it for the purpose of teaching. The components of knowledge transformation were identified from the critical incidents, which were moments abstracted from the lesson which I taught. PCK is in two forms, there is planned and enacted PCK. The planned PCK was yielded by the construction of the CoRe and acted PCK was yielded by the lesson which was taught twice (for improvement). The questionnaire results show that although students may gain confidence after attending a lesson, some of their initial conceptions may not be altered. From the study, it shows that as a teacher being more reflective of my own practice improves my content knowledge and my pedagogical practices (teaching); thus contributing to my development of PCK.
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Science. 17 July 2017
Makwela, Tshiamiso Neo (2017) Developing the act of knowledge transformation through self-study: teaching about stars, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <>