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BioTeC - Biology Teachers' professional Competence

Structure, Development, and Meaning of

Biology Teachers’ Professional Competence

 

The biology teacher is one of the most important determining factors for successful learning in biology. Especially biology teachers’ professional competence is described to impact on students’ learning. Professional competence covers different aspects, which characterize a successful teacher. This BMBF-funded project considers content-related professional knowledge as well as motivational orientations of in-service biology teachers. More detailed, this project focuses on the structure and development of biology teachers’ professional competence as well as on its meaning for students’ learning in biology.

Project Details                                                               

Biology Teachers’ Professional Competence – Structure (Study 1)

The aim of study 1 is to examine the empirical structure of (1) content-related professional knowledge and (2) motivational orientations of in-service biology teachers. The results show that (1) content knowledge (CK), (2) pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), and (3) curricular knowledge (CuK) represent separate domains of content-related professional knowledge. Biology teachers’ motivational orientations cover (1) self-efficacy, (2) enthusiasm for biology, and (3) enthusiasm for teaching biology as separate domains. The results of this study provide the basis for the following studies.

Biology teachers’ professional competence – Development (Study 2)

Both teacher education at university and the time spent in the profession provide important opportunities for the development of biology teachers’ content-related professional knowledge and their motivational orientations. Particularly teacher education at university as well as professional development and self-study (e.g., reading journals) foster biology teachers’ professional competence.

Biology Teachers’ Professional Competence – Meaning for Students’ Learning in Biology (Study 3)

There is theoretical and empirical evidence that teachers’ professional competence impacts on students’ learning. Nevertheless, there is no consensus which aspect of professional competence is especially important in this context. To date, results related to biology teachers’ professional competence are entirely lacking. The aim of study 3 is to identify the important aspects of biology teachers’ professional competence for students’ learning in biology. We hypothesize that both content-related professional knowledge as well as motivational orientations impact on students’ learning. Considering the results of study 1, study 3 investigates the relationship between the three domains of content-related professional knowledge (CK, PCK, and CuK) as well as the three domains of motivational orientations (self-efficacy, enthusiasm for biology, and enthusiasm for teaching biology) and students’ learning in biology. As ‘learning’ is very vague, we consider an area of learning, which is especially important for biology education: system thinking. System thinking covers the understanding of complex relationships between the elements of a system, the analysis of their interaction, and the deduction of conclusions for the future development of the system. The work with systems is prescribed in the educational curriculum as obligatory for all levels of education and all school types. 

This study provides empirical evidence for the meaning of both content-related professional knowledge and motivational orientations. Especially biology teachers’ PCK and their enthusiasm for biology impact on students’ learning in biology. These results are important for the improvement of teacher education. They show that teacher education programs should focus on knowledge and the motivation of prospective biology teachers.