University of Tasmania
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The knowledge quartet and the pedagogy of subject English : applicability, realisation, and implications

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posted on 2023-05-28, 09:44 authored by David ShorterDavid Shorter
This thesis concerns the development and application of a theoretical framework called the Knowledge Quartet ‚- English (KQ-E). The KQ-E is an elaborated version of the Knowledge Quartet (KQ), a conceptualisation of actualised pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) developed by Tim Rowland and colleagues vis-√†-vis mathematics teaching. The KQ posits that PCK manifests across four dimensions: Foundation, Transformation, Connection and Contingency. Specific categories of PCK belonging to each dimension occur during most lessons. The KQ-E was, during its formulation and testing, used to illuminate the actualised PCK-for-subject-English demonstrated by four Australian (Tasmanian) teachers. In Australia and elsewhere, teaching quality has become a central focus of multi-stakeholder debate about, and measures to improve, the educational outcomes of young people. This debate focuses, often, on subject English, that domain of school curricula charged, most explicitly, with developing students' literacy capabilities and, thence, their (a) access to various 'goods', including education, employment and social support systems; and (b) participation in domestic, civic and political decision-making. Teaching matters, and PCK, one of several domains of teacher knowledge posited by Lee Shulman some 30 years ago, is customarily regarded by educationalists as a key driver of pedagogical efficacy, crucial to improving students' learning outcomes. Thus, efforts to illuminate and cultivate teachers' PCK, particularly for subject English, are ever-timely. Hitherto, PCK has been theorised, mainly, vis-√†-vis mathematics teaching ‚- demonstrated, for example, by the sizeable corpus of research involving the KQ. This project sought to address that concentration, guided by questions that concerned: (a) the extent to which the dimensions and categories of Rowland et al.'s framework apply to the pedagogy of subject English; (b) how those postulates might be conceptualised re the pedagogy of subject English; and (c) the potential value of KQ-E-mediated reflection-on-practice. The research proceeded in two stages. A pilot study was conducted, wherein the 20-category KQ was tested vis-√†-vis relevant, pre-existing data: namely, video-recordings of two subject English lessons conducted in a primary school in Auckland, New Zealand. This process of semi-grounded theory generated eight additional categories of actualised PCK that seemed characteristic of subject English teaching. They were added to the KQ to form a nascent KQ-E, the veracity of which was tested via the main study. In/for the main study, four teachers (two primary, two secondary) of varying levels of experience were voluntarily recruited from Department of Education schools in and around Launceston, Tasmania. Each was observed/video-recorded delivering a sequence of three subject English lessons, and participated, also, in one-on-one post-lesson semi-structured interviews. The interviews were audio-recorded. Some of the data were then selected and prepared for analysis. Each of five lesson transcripts was coded vis-√†-vis the KQ-E, a process supported by reference to the content of relevant interview transcripts. Fifteen categories of the KQ applied to the data that were analysed. Of the five that did not, only two are, perhaps, genuinely immaterial to English teaching. All the additional categories generated via the pilot study applied. Thus, their credibility is supported. A social-constructivist/Vygotskian orientation to teaching-learning appears to characterise the pedagogy of subject English. Also, the teachers valued their students' individuality-subjectivity and, moreover, recognised that their students' life experiences and world-knowledge are drivers of reading/viewing comprehension. KQ-E-mediated reflection-on-practice may constitute a profitable means of developing PCK for subject English. The KQ-E supports the premise that teaching is competency-based. Given the KQ-E was generated-substantiated via a delimited corpus of data, theoretical sampling is needed to confirm its credibility. Additionally, research that assesses the value of KQ-E-mediated reflection-on-practice would be worthwhile.


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