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ISSN : 2092-674X (Print)
ISSN : 2092-6758 (Online)
Asia-Pacific Collaborative education Journal Vol.9 No.2 pp.69-78

Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) and Teaching Performance of Indonesia’s Language Teachers at the Aftermath of Teacher Certification Program: A Case of Indonesia

Riswanda etiadi, Bachrudin Musthafa
Riswanda Setiadi completed Master’s Degree (MA) in Reading and Literacy Instruction in the University of Iowa (1996) and Ph.D Degree in Literacy Education in Monash University, Australia. Major research interests deal with Teacher Training and, Language and Literacy Teaching, and Educational Research.
Bachrudin Musthafa earned Masters Degree
(MA) in English Rhetoric & Linguistics from
Indiana University of Pennsylavia (IUP, 1999)
and PhD. In Literacy Studies from the Ohio State
University, Columbus, OH (OSU, 1997), USA.
His major research interests include Teacher
Development, Early and Adolescent Literacy, and
Materials Development.
Received Date: April 30, 2013, Revision received Date: September 26, 2013, Accepted Date: October 21, 2013


This study aims to describe the pedagogicalcontent knowledge (PCK) and teaching performance ofjunior secondary language teachers based on the testsadministered during the teacher certification program,and identify the correlation between both variables. Itinvolved 124 junior secondary school teachers,consisting of 70 Indonesian language teachers and 54English language teachers, from various schools inWest Java Province, Indonesia. To organize researchprocedures, this study adopted a descriptive methodused to describe the characteristics of teachers whoparticipated in the teacher participation program,their current pedagogical content knowledge andteaching performance based on the test results.Findings show that PCK has a strong correlation withteaching performance. However, other factors such asemployment status, academic qualification, and agehave significant effects on the mastery of those twomain variables. A further study should be conducted togauge more sound findings.



 The government of Indonesia has been continuously attempting to reform the national education system and improve the quality of education. To support this effort, since 2007 the national government has organized a teacher certification program to improve the professionalism of teachers at all educational levels. When they are able to pass the exams administered during the program, they are entitled to hold a professional teacher certificate. The teacher certification program is also expected to improve teachers’ acquisition of four competences: pedagogical, professional, personal and social. Approximately 250,000 – 300,000 teachers, including language teachers, participate in this program every year, which is expected to end in 2014.The program has been based on the fact that many teachers did not perform their instructional and professional tasks properly and that the education system has failed to produce school graduates with high quality knowledge and skills. However, this program is not a panacea as similar issues of the quality of teachers and students’ learning outcomes still persist in Indonesia’s education system.

 In terms of language teachers, a previous study by Setiadi (2006) revealed that teachers believed that they were self-efficacious, but they were poor in pedagogical content knowledge and teaching performance. Furthermore, the National Ministry of Education (2012) pinpointed the poor quality of many teachers in the aftermath of competence examinations. They mostly lacked the mastery of content knowledge and methodological manipulation. Consequently, some Indonesian regulations, such as the Teacher and Lecturer Act and National Education System Act, require them to enhance their pedagogical, professional, social and personal competences for the improvement of instructional outcome quality. These national regulations were based on the fact that scientific and technological advances have been in progress, which in turn require the teachers to adapt to and adopt current approaches, methods, and learning technology. When they are not able to meet this requirement, it is believed that they can hamper the achievement of instructional goals.

 Based on the above-mentioned issues, this study focuses on two variables; namely the pedagogical content knowledge and teaching performance of the teachers who have completed the teacher certification program. In this case, it is believed that both variables can significantly contribute to the improved quality of teachers. As there are a huge number of program participants, the study only examines language teachers at junior secondary level.


 This study aims to describe the pedagogical content knowledge and teaching performance of junior secondary language teachers based on the tests administered during the teacher certification program and to identify the correlation between both variables. In addition, it is intended to provide the policy makers in Indonesia with information about the results of the certification program in terms of pedagogical content knowledge and teaching performance of the program participants, to help improve the quality of teachers.

Theoretical Framework

Effective Teacher

 Any effort to improve the quality of teaching will apparently end in the question of teaching effectiveness. When the government of Indonesia is eager to enhance the professionalism of teachers, it means that it is the effectiveness of teaching and the teacher which is to be achieved at any educational level. However, no single factor can be deemed responsible for “effective teaching” because it is obvious that a multitude of factors interplay to result in any effective teaching.

 Of course, different people have different ideas of what constitutes an effective teacher. Teachers in Western and Eastern hemispheres, for instance, can be ideologically and culturally different in their teaching practices and ways of viewing their teaching. As a result, it is hardly possible to formulate a standardized practice of effective teaching in a global sense due to the different philosophies and cultural elements which abound. Basically, teaching can be seen as “a complex phenomenon that takes into account a wide range of personal characteristics, professional skills and specialized bases of knowledge” (Cole & Chan, 1994, p.2).

 When we turn to the conditions which mainly influence the effectiveness of the teaching process, we face a fact that teaching frequently deals with unexpected obstacles, disruptions or events. It is usually easy to consider differences as a result of some factors such as student variation in ability, time, content, material environment and/or teachers if a teaching process fails. We may agree that the effective teaching is mostly determined by how effective the teacher is in many ways, and that many factors contribute to the teaching and teacher effectiveness. According to Kindsvater, (1992), effective teachers tend to be more diverse among themselves, whereas average teachers tend to be more alike. However, most of us are likely to agree that the characteristics of an effective teacher are closely related to skills and competences a teacher possesses to implement teaching programs and to achieve their goals. The skills and competences range from the ability to plan lessons to the ability to solve students’ learning problems. In an effort to define effective teaching by considering traditional and humanistic views, Cole and Chan (1994) defined effective teaching as performances of trained professionals that support and increase the intellectual, personal, social and physical development of learners. This definition embraces a wide range of characteristics which include cognitive, personal, social, and physical aspects. Of course, these characteristics are enormously varied and defy the possibilities to develop them for instructional purposes.

 It can be further assumed that having a better perspective of some aspects of what may create an effective teacher will help us direct teachers towards possibly more effective teaching and learning processes. As mentioned above, it is not easy to define the effective teacher. Research findings have revealed different characteristics of teacher effectiveness, and individual authors have managed to propose their ideas of what constitutes an effective teacher in different ways and from different perspectives. An effective teacher, according to Cullingford (1995, p. 11- 12), has an integrity as a quality of a person to do his best, enjoys learning or gets involved in learning, prepares and organises classroom management well, communicates with other people, and has a sense of humour. In a more vivid way, Mohan and Hull (1975, p. 245) listed five features of how effective teachers differ from ineffective teachers. They are:

 1. They seem to have generally more positive views of others- students, colleagues, and administrators;

 2. They do not seem to be as prone to view others as critical, attacking people with ulterior motives; rather they are seen as potentially friendly and worthy in their own sight.

 3. They have a more favourable view of democratic classroom procedures.

 4. They seem to have the ability and capacity to see things as they seem to others.

 5. They see students as individuals capable of doing for themselves.

 Referring to Dewey’s work, Frazee and Rudnitski (1995) viewed the teacher as an agent mediating between students, curriculum and society through “rules of conduct.” This role actually has a broad connotation, because it also includes a personal dimension, social norms and values as well as pedagogical aspects. As a mediator, a teacher is required to make teaching a meaningful activity which integrates personal, social, pedagogical and intellectual elements. In addition, a teacher is basically a classroom manager who should make an effective use of the classroom environment to achieve instructional goals and to maximise learning. Being an effective teacher involves more than teaching skills, but it entails translating them into real and clear teaching behaviours and practices which meet the learning needs of learners and fit the instructional context (Weimer, 1993).

 As we are well aware, teaching is a human enterprise which can have eternal impacts on the life of human beings. It is not surprising that more demands are imposed on teaching to produce a much higher quality of education and better educated people. As a part of the education process, teaching is also a complex process, and it can be as complex as human beings themselves because it deals with them. In other words, “teaching is a multifaceted process that cannot be reduced to simple prescriptions” (Bellon, Bellon,& Blank; 1992, p.11). “Undoubtedly, the most critical point is that teaching at its best is a matter of a person teaching others. That one person is a human being called teacher, and the others are human beings called students. Teaching is a human encounter. There isn’t another human encounter quite like this” (Dubelle, 1986, p. 5). It is really demanding because teachers are expected to be competent in their world or in whatever they are expected to do with students in terms of instructional engagement. It is correct to assert that teaching involves the communication of knowledge to the learners, but teachers are not only required to acquire subject matter and transfer it to the students, they also should be able to manage their students’ potential and to facilitate the change of the potential into competence, performance and achievement. However, the process of change is not that simple. In its recent development, teaching has become a battle field to voice two different interests: teaching as a profession and as a moral dedication.

 Discussions of effective teaching processes seem to be unable to achieve an agreement on the characteristics of effective teaching. In an early attempt to document the research on teaching effectiveness, Dunkin and Biddle (1974) argued that disagreements among scholars about the characteristics of effective teaching were due to several reasons: (1) failure to observe teaching activities, (2) theoretical impoverishment, (3) use of inadequate criteria of effectiveness, and (4) lack of concern for contextual effects (p. 13). As mentioned above, too many variables interplay to produce that process and thus it is an area of complexity when it comes to researching effective teaching practice. It is plausible to assume that a narrow focus on a particular variable may be more useful than a wider focus on various variables.

Pedagogical Content Knowledge

 In the context of Indonesia, pedagogical content knowledge can be deemed as pedagogical competence, one of the four competences all Indonesian teachers should acquire, as mentioned in the Introduction. In the education world, the concept of pedagogical content knowledge is very familiar to teachers and teacher educators, especially when Lee Shulman introduced it widely in 1986. Shulman (1986) argued that pedagogical content knowledge integrates the knowledge base of teaching and knowledge of content and pedagogy. He further contended that it is the way teachers interpret and transform subject-matter knowledge to facilitate student learning processes. In this concept, there are six crucial components: (1) knowledge of representations of subject matter (content knowledge); (2) understanding of students’ conceptions of teaching and learning acertain subject matter, (3) general pedagogical knowledge of teaching strategies, (4) curriculum knowledge, (5) knowledge of educational contexts, and (6) knowledge of educational goals (Shulman in Solis, 2009). Combining all the components into one single concepts made Shulman conclude that “it represents the blending of content and pedagogy into an understanding of how particular topics, problems or issues are organized, represented, and adapted to the diverse interests and abilities of learners, and presented for instruction” (Shulman, 1987, p 4). However, Shulman’s original concept of pedagogical content knowledge has been interpreted and further developed in accordance with characteristics and requirements of teacher education and professional development in particular and education systems in general.

 Moreover, pedagogical content knowledge means different things to different scholars. In the context of Indonesia, pedagogical content knowledge consists of pedagogical competence, as stipulated by government regulation. It is a part of the national teacher competence standard. Ministerial Decree (2007) stipulates that pedagogical competence includes the following key elements: (1) understanding physical, moral, socio-cultural, emotional, and intellectual characteristics of learners; (2) acquiring learning theories and proper instructional principles; (3) developing subject-matter curriculum; (4) developing instructional activities; (5) using information and communication technology (ICT) to develop instructional activities; (6) facilitating the development of learners’ potential; (7) communicating with learners effectively, empathetically, and politely; (8) assessing and evaluating instructional processes and learning outcomes; (9) making use of assessment and evaluation results for instructional purposes; and (10) reflecting on instructional outcomes to improve the quality of teaching. Along with other competences, teachers should develop this competence in accordance with the specific traits of the subject-matter contents.

 Research on pedagogical content knowledge can be problematic as components or elements included in the concept of pedagogical content knowledge are truly numerous or even unlimited. In many ways, teachers’ knowledge comprises multiple areas of problem-solving, such as transforming content, solving the problem of order, attending to individual needs and thinking on one’s feet (Conley, 1994). However, for the purpose of this study, the so-called pedagogical content knowledge in the case of Indonesia involves (1) knowledge of representations of subject matter (content knowledge); (2) understanding of students’ conceptions of teaching and learning a certain subject matter, (3) general pedagogical knowledge of teaching strategies, (4) curriculum knowledge, (5) knowledge of educational contexts, and (6) knowledge of educational goals; (7) assessing and evaluating instructional processes and learning outcomes; and (8) making use of assessment and evaluation results for instructional purposes. In brief, these elements of pedagogical content knowledge on which this study is based can be interpreted and classified into categories: (1) content knowledge, (2) curriculum knowledge, and (3) knowledge of pedagogy.

Teacher Performance

 It is generally believed that teachers who have sound knowledge of their subject matter will be much better than those who have poor knowledge of the same subject matter. However, we realize that sound knowledge is unseen unless it is manipulated in practice. It means that pedagogical content knowledge will be real if teachers are able to present it in their real teaching practices. Furthermore, teaching practices represent the performance of teachers to present what they have in their mind. Hence, when teachers have a good body of knowledge, they will perform well.

 Unlike pedagogical content knowledge, teacher performance is concrete and more easily measurable. Different categories can be included into the concept of teacher performance. They can be different from one teaching setting to another. However, they are set on the basis of observable teaching behaviors. In the case of the teacher certification program in Indonesia, teacher performance is measured in accordance with the following indicators: (1) instructional planning, (2) sound mastery and delivery of teaching materials, (3) use of different instructional approaches or strategies, (4) use of learning sources and media, (5) the creation of active and creative learning atmosphere, (5) assessment of learning process and product, (6) use of language, and (7) reflection (Ministry of National Education, 2010).


 The study involved 124 junior secondary school teachers, consisting of 70 Indonesian language teachers and 54 English language teachers from various schools in West Java Province, Indonesia, ranging from 30 to 50 years of age. Of the124 teachers, 89 teachers are private school teachers and 35 are public school teachers. Those predictors are also moderating variables.

 To organize research procedures, this study adopts a descriptive method used to describe the characteristics of teachers who have participated in the teacher participation program, their current pedagogical content knowledge and teaching performance based on the test results. A correlational method is also adopted to identify the correlation between pedagogical content knowledge and teaching performance. In this case, pedagogical content knowledge represents an independent variable, while the teaching performance is a dependent variable.

 To collect data from the participants, a test was administered to examine pedagogical content knowledge, and a Likert scale-like observation sheet was used to assess teaching performance during peer teaching session. The test includes 100 multiple-choice items, and the observation scale contains items on seven constructs: (1) instructional planning, (2) sound mastery and delivery of teaching materials, (3) use of different instructional approaches or strategies, (4) use of learning sources and media, (5) the creation of an active and creative learning atmosphere, (5) assessment of the learning process and product, (6) use of language, and (7) reflection. To measure the strength of each construct, a 1 – 5 scale was applied.


 The teacher certification program organized in Indonesian since 2007 administers nationally validated tests to assess teachers’ pedagogical competence and teaching performance. ThePCK test takes the form of an objective test with multiple-choice items, while the teaching performance test adopts a type of subjective test. The subjectivity of teaching performance test is much dependent on the disposition of the assessors. It means that assessors have a great effect on the results of the test. Therefore, the scores gained by the teachers are not absolute in terms of assessment accuracy.

 In this study, participants are required to pass each test with a minimum score of 50 and a maximum score of 100. Table 1 shows that the mean score of the teaching performance test was 86.3, which can be classified into a high category score. Meanwhile, the teachers were able to gain a mean score of 68.5 in the PCK test. It means that they did not perform very well in the PCK test. However, they have generally presented a good quality of knowledge and teaching practice.

Table 1. Descriptive Statistics of PCK and Teaching Performance Test Scores

 To identify the correlation between PCK and teaching performance, a Pearson correlation coefficient was calculated. Table 2 presents data on the correlation between both variables. It seems that those two variables are significantly correlated. The coefficient of .231 indicates that they have a certain level of strength to have effects on each other. There is no doubt that PCK can make a significant contribution to the teaching performance of the teachers.

Table 2. Correlation between PCK and Teaching Performance

 In addition to the data on the correlation between PCK and teaching performance, this study deals with more data on the characteristics of the teachers who participated in the teacher certification program. To make the data sound and meaningful, a multiple classification analysis was made. For the sake of analysis, those characteristics are considered moderating variables which can have effects on the PCK or teaching performance of the teachers.

 Table 3 shows that the study involved 70 Indonesian language teachers and 54 English teachers. Based on the data, Indonesian language teachers had an adjusted mean score of 69.48, higher than the English teachers’ mean score. In terms of employment status, public school teachers tended to get higher mean scores than private school teachers. “The higher the better” can be proved in the mean score of PCK attained by teachers with higher degree of education or academic qualification. Master’s degree holders had higher mean scores than the teachers with no degrees and bachelor degrees. Finally, young teachers of 31 - 40 years of age possessed a higher level of PCK. It means that age had a moderating effect on the acquisition of pedagogical content knowledge.

Table 3. Multiple Classification Analysis of Pedagogical Content Knowledge

 Teaching performance was apparently affected by the same moderating variables. Table 4 presents information about how subject matter, employment status, academic qualification, and age are assumed to be partly responsible for teacher performance. Indonesian and English language teachers shared a similar level of teaching performance as indicated by their adjusted mean scores, 86.12 and 86.37 respectively. The employment status of the teachers is also important to the improvement of teaching performance. Once again, teachers who hold master’s degrees performed better than those with no degrees and bachelor degrees. In this case, academic qualification can be deemed a variable which significantly contributes to teacher performance. In the final analysis, age can also be considered a sound indicator of good teaching performance.

Table 4. Multiple Classification Analysis of Teaching Performance


 Teaching is truly a complex and complicated craft as many variables are interrelated and have effects on each other. As a sound concept, pedagogical content knowledge plays a crucial role in enhancing the quality of teaching. In this study, PCK made a significant contribution to teacher performance. It can be postulated that when a teacher is knowledgeable and well informed, s/he tends to perform instructional tasks better than other teachers who possess a poor body of knowledge.

 Based on the data analysis, teachers who were involved in the study were able to gain high scores in pedagogical content knowledge and teaching performance tests, and both variables are strongly correlated. However, those variables become predominant when other moderating variables come closer to shape them. It means that pedagogical content knowledge and teaching performance are still affected by adjacent factors such as the subject matter taught by the teachers, employment status, academic qualification, and chronological age. In terms of these moderating variables, academic qualification and age constitute crucial factors that contribution to a high level of PCK and teaching performance.

 Finally, this study only explored pedagogical content knowledge and teaching performance of the teachers who completed a teacher certification program. The situation under which the program was run is different from the real situation of the classroom. Therefore, the findings may not represent their actual knowledge and performance. It is therefore necessary to further investigate PCK and teaching performance of the certified teachers in their real academic and professional environment.


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