Teacher Trainer

2. Pedagogy as decision-making: Example 1, Chris

Chris teaches motor vehicle engineering at Stephenson College. In the video clip of this class for apprentices, the students are learning about an electromechanical system: vehicle transmissions.

Although the focus of the session is on the mechanical system, the students have asked a question about the electronic solenoid associated with the transmission system. Chris seems to be making a decision to encourage the students to investigate a fault with the solenoid, even though he is short of time.


Why do you think he is keen for them to do this?

How is Chris relating the proposed activity to the workplace?

Now watch the extract from Chris’s interview again. How does his understanding of what motivates the students and helps them to learn inform his decision?

An important element of pedagogy and especially of the concept of Pedagogical Content Knowledge, which we will introduce later, is a teacher’s knowledge of what motivates their students and helps them to learn, as well as what might make learning difficult for them. In his interview, Chris brings out his view that fluidity in implementing his lesson plan is important in helping students to see how theory relates to practice.  To ignore the question on the solenoids and to stick to the mechanical system as planned might have discouraged the students and missed an opportunity for them to see the electromechanical system as a whole, making this broader understanding harder for the students in the future.

Chris suggests that being able to understand how to locate the fault in the solenoid will help them in the workplace. To apply knowledge of electrical and mechanical systems in the workplace, learning about them as separate systems is not enough. The way they work together, and the faults that can arise from the interface, are also important. The knowledge and skill developed in investigating the fault will help them with other, more common issues. In the session, he tells the students “If you can do that, you can do anything”, whilst in his interview he explains the need to “empower” the students by allowing them to examine the whole mechanism.