Teachers can overcome challenges to inquiry by developing pedagogical process knowledge (PPK): the PISCES experience

Colin Smith, Allan Blake, Peter Gray, Fearghal Kelly

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


This chapter tells a story of empowerment through professional learning of teachers participating in a professional learning module (PISCES) in which they developed forms of knowledge that enhanced their theories of practice, or practitioner theory, around how to support student learning through inquiry. It is argued that educational learning is complex and that contexts vary both within and across countries in the project, so teachers have to be trusted as the professionals in situ. Therefore, the model of empowerment used was one of bringing conceptual tools to them to support their thinking about their practice and its current relationship with inquiry and scientific thinking, supporting them in developing questions that would lead to experiments in their practice, and the chance to report on those and learn from each other. These conceptual tools are described. The narrative describes the changes or enhancements to their practice that the teachers developed themselves in order to solve pedagogical problems around inquiry that they had identified using the conceptual tools. These changes are argued to show development of an under conceptualised form of teacher knowledge – namely, knowledge of how to support processes such as inquiry and scientific thinking in their students. This knowledge is made explicit through the concept of PPK that is seen as a partner to the already established concept of PCK and these, together, form an important component of teachers’ theories of practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInquiry in science education and science teacher education
Subtitle of host publicationresearch on teaching and learning through inquiry based approaches in science (teacher) education
EditorsMarit Honerød Hoveid, Peter Gray
Place of PublicationTrondheim
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


  • science education
  • inquiry based science teaching
  • science teaching


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