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My inquiry eFolio for ETEC 533

  • Writer's pictureDr. Sarah McLean

We need a "PCK" me up in higher education...

When I was initially reading about TPACK and PCK, an idea occurred to me that I think often affects novice learners- "You don't know what you don't know". When beginning into a new area of inquiry, it is hard to know the limits of your knowledge or sometimes, even where to begin the problem. This is where I think that PCK and TPACK, when used expertly by an educator, can really make a difference in learners' understanding. I really appreciated the notion from Mishra and Koehler's paper that "expertise in teaching is dependent on flexible access to highly organized systems of knowledge." (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). In particular, this made me consider how in higher education, so many of our instructors are NOT formally taught how to teach, and how this can often limit the educational experience for students. In a way, novice educators in higher education also "don't know what they don't know" when it comes to best teaching practices, and the best examples to use to illustrate a concept, even when those novice educators might be outstanding researchers in their own field.

Learning specifically about TPACK made me think of a paper from Terry Anderson that I have read in other ETEC courses, "Towards a Theory of Online Learning" (2004).


In my practice, I have found that students sometimes have a hard time seeing the "big picture" of a topic, and how it relates to other work that we have done. In particular, I found this when thinking about action potentials and graded potentials in the conduction of neuronal signals in the central nervous system.

To address this content issue, I have used a lightboard to create "big picture summaries" in which I tie the content together, so that students can see graded potentials lead to action potentials. If I don't put these two concepts together explicitly, I find that students do not understand how they are related, and how graded potentials lead to action potentials. You can take a look at my video by using the link:


Anderson, T. (2004). Towards a theory of online learning. Theory and practice of online learning, 2, 109-119.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers college record, 108(6), 1017-1054.

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