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The Development of professional competence in pre-service mathematics and science teacher education

Funded by the Leibniz Association

Background and Research Aims

Teachers’ professional knowledge, which is subdivided into content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and pedagogical content knowledge, constitutes a crucial determinant for the quality of instruction and for student outcomes. The recent past has seen an upsurge in the construction of test instruments for the assessment of teachers’ professional knowledge. However, longitudinal studies that examine the acquisition and development of the three areas of teachers’ professional knowledge over the course of pre-service teacher education at university are still scarce, specifically with respect to teacher education in science.

This is the starting point for the project KeiLa. Using the test instruments developed in the preceding project KiL for the assessment of content and pedagogical content knowledge in science and mathematics as well as for the measurement of generic pedagogical knowledge, KeiLa aims to answer two research questions in the context of delineating the development of professional knowledge over the course of pre-service teacher education at university. On the one hand, we investigate the contribution of institutional factors, such as opportunities to learn during formal education at university, to the acquisition of professional knowledge. On the other hand, we explore the relevance of pre-service teachers’ individual characteristics for the formation of professional knowledge.

Study Design


The study spans a period of three years. The first assessment of participants’ professional knowledge took place at the start of the winter semester in 2014. We recruited two cohorts. These are beginning pre-service teachers and advanced pre-service teachers. These initial cohorts will participate in a total of five assessments. They will complete three assessments at their universities. These assessments focus on participants’ professional knowledge. Moreover, the pre-service teachers of the initial cohorts will participate in a total of two online surveys. These surveys focus on individual experiences in pre-service teacher education, for instance, the participation in and the perception of the quality of formal opportunities to learn at university. From the beginning of the winter semester in 2015 onwards, the initial cohorts will be complemented by the recruitment of additional participants. We aim to recruit of a total sample of 1200 pre-service teachers. We are conducting assessments at 25 universities.



Beginning pre-service teachers

1.AS (uni)

3.AS (uni) 5.AS (uni)



Advanced pre-service

1.AS (uni) 3.AS (uni) 5.AS (uni)



Schedule of assessments (AS = assessment; uni = at university)


Participating Researchers

Within the project KeiLa, the Departments of Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology, and Physics Education of the IPN are responsible for the assessment of participants’ content and pedagogical content. In addition, the Department of Educational Science of the IPN and two research teams from Kiel University take care of the measurement of participants’ pedagogical knowledge.

Educational Science, IPN
Olaf Köller
Uta Klusmann
Andrea Bernholt
Frauke Tiedje

School Pedagogy, Kiel University
Thilo Kleickmann
Judith Pollmeier
Steffen Tröbst

Chemistry Education, IPN
Ilka Parchmann
Mirjam Steffensky
Carolin Meyer
Stefanie Herzog

Mathematics Education, IPN
Aiso Heinze
Jessica Hoth
Colin Jeschke
Anke Lindmeier

Biology Education, IPN
Ute Harms
Daniela Mahler
Till Bruckermann

Physics Education, IPN
Knut Neumann
Stefan Petersen
Stefan Sorge

Educational Psychology, Kiel University
Jens Möller
Friederike Zimmermann