O conhecimento especializado do professor quando ensina tópicos de biologia

  1. Luís, Mónica
Supervised by:
  1. José Carrillo Yañez Director
  2. Rute Cristina Correia da Rocha Monteiro Director
  3. Nuria Climent Rodríguez Director

Defence university: Universidad de Huelva

Fecha de defensa: 20 July 2021

  1. Pedro Guilherme Rocha Dos Reis Chair
  2. María Ángeles de las Heras Pérez Secretary
  3. María Cinta Muñoz Catalán Committee member

Type: Thesis


The main aim of this research was to gain an understanding of the knowledge deployed by two biology teachers in the course of their work. This aim was broken down into three narrower objectives: to identify the knowledge deployed by the teachers; to characterise this; and from this analysis to construct a model of Biology Teachers’ Specialised Knowledge (BTSK), parallel to that developed within an epistemologically different discipline, the MTSK model (Mathematics Teachers’ Specialised Knowledge, by Carrillo et al., 2018). In order to carry out these objectives, 14 lessons on the topic of Plant Reproduction were observed, involving pupils from 8 to 12 years old registered in the 3rd to 6th years of primary education. Three follow-up interviews were also conducted. The research design took the form of an instrumental case study (Stake, 2005) as this facilitated a fine-grained analysis of the two teachers’ knowledge directly at the point of contact with their pupils in the natural context of their work. The teachers were selected from among their colleagues for what they could bring to the study, following the principles of what Patton (2002) denominates snowball sampling. Video and audio recordings were used as the primary source of data collection as these would allow key episodes to be revisited (Rochelle, 2000). These were complemented by semi-structured interviews, following Arksey and Knight (1999). Data analysis was carried out using the analytical tool in construction, BTSK, employing content analysis methodology (Bardin, 2012), guided by the research literature on the topic and on the knowledge emerging from the data. The fulfilment of the main aim – gaining an understanding of the knowledge deployed by the teachers – resulted in the construction of the BTSK model, a theoretical-empirical model of the specialised knowledge teachers draw on for teaching biology. Of the different kinds of knowledge detected, most fell within the scope of content knowledge, that is, knowledge directly connected with the topics in question. There was, however, sufficient evidence of other knowledge to enable the characterisation of all the subdomains. The model consists of three domains: knowledge of biology; pedagogical content knowledge (related to biology); and beliefs. These domains in turn are comprised of eight subdomains and 17 categories. The domain Knowledge of Biology is comprised of the teacher’s knowledge of plant reproduction in itself, a good working knowledge of the topic of study, awareness of the potential points of connection between this topic and others, and an understanding of how scientific knowledge is constructed. Pedagogical Content Knowledge includes the individual’s knowledge of teaching, their knowledge derived from official guidelines and other authoritative texts, their understanding of how pupils learn, and their familiarity with learning strategies and resources. The Beliefs domain pulls together the disparate – and often unconscious and inconsistent – set of conceptions held by the teacher with respect to (among others) the purpose of education, how to teach, the role of the teacher and students, and the status of the topics to be covered. Beliefs tend to be by nature heterogeneous and unarticulated, and exert a significant influence over the teacher’s methodological decisions. The model is a tool of considerable analytical value to research into the knowledge brought into play by teachers in situations similar to this, as the subdomains and large number of corresponding categories ensure full coverage. It is additionally applicable to education programmes, in that it identifies the knowledge deployed and hence necessary for teaching. That said, the model is open to improvements and refinements. On the one hand, this is the first study of its kind, and could be replicated in a variety of contexts. On the other hand, some kinds of knowledge recognised by the literature were not reflected in the empirical data.