Use of the Rasch measurement model to explore the relationship between content knowledge and topic-specific pedagogical content knowledge for organic chemistry

Journal Article


Journal Title

International Journal of Science Education

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

Taylor & Francis


University of Cape Town

Research has shown that a high level of content knowledge (CK) is necessary but not sufficient to develop the special knowledge base of expert teachers known as pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). This study contributes towards research to quantify the relationship between CK and PCK in science. In order to determine the proportion of the variance in PCK accounted for by the variance in CK, instruments are required which are valid and reliable as well as being unidimensional to measure person abilities for CK and PCK. An instrument consisting of two paper-and-pencil tests was designed to assess Grade 12 teachers’ CK and PCK in organic chemistry. We used the Rasch measurement model to convert raw score data into interval measures and to provide empirical evidence for the validity, reliability and unidimensionality of the tests. The correlation between CK and PCK was estimated as r = .66 (p < .001). We found evidence to suggest that while topic-specific PCK (TSPCK) develops with increasing teaching experience, high levels of CK can be acquired with limited teaching experience. These findings support the hypothesis that CK is a requirement for the development of TSPCK; proficiency in CK is, however, not necessarily associated with high levels of TSPCK. [Editor's note: this post-print has been embargoed until January 2018]