Beginning chemistry teachers use of the triplet relationship during their first three years in the classroom
Pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) has been described as the knowledge teachers' use in the process of designing and implementing lessons to a particular group of students. This includes the most effective representations that make the content understandable to students, together with the preconceptions and misconceptions that students hold. For chemistry, students have been found to have difficulty with the discipline due to its reliance upon three levels of representation called the triplet: the macro, the submicro, and the symbolic. This study examines eight beginning chemistry teachers' depiction of the chemistry content through the triplet relationship and modifications as a result of considering students' understanding across the teacher's first three years in the classroom. The data collected included classroom observations, interviews, and artifacts for the purpose of triangulation. The analysis of the data revealed that beginning chemistry teachers utilized the abstract components, submicro and symbolic, primarily in the first year. However, the teachers began to engage more macro representations over time building a more developed instructional repertoire. Additionally, teachers' developed an awareness of and responded to their students' understanding of learning atomic structure during the second and third year teaching. The results of this study call for preservice and induction programs to help novice chemistry teachers build a beginning repertoire that focuses on the triplet relationship. In so doing, the teachers enter the classroom with a repertoire that allows them to address the needs of their students. Finally, the study suggests that the triplet relationship framework should be revisited to include an additional component that frames learning to account for socioscientific issues and historical contributions.