• biology;
  • secondary;
  • pedagogical content knowledge;
  • alternative certification


Alternative certification programs (ACPs) have been proposed as a viable way to address teacher shortages, yet we know little about how teacher knowledge develops within such programs. The purpose of this study was to investigate prior knowledge for teaching among students entering an ACP, comparing individuals with teaching experience to those lacking teaching experience. Of the four participants seeking secondary biology teaching certification, two participants had 2 years of prior biology teaching experience. We used the Lesson Preparation Method as a data collection tool, asking participants to create lesson plans to teach the concept of heritable variation. Primary data sources were the lesson plans and follow-up interview transcripts. Prior teaching experience made little difference as both groups held didactic teaching orientations and wrote similar lesson plans. Both groups drew on general pedagogical knowledge (PK), and had little pedagogical content knowledge for teaching heritable variation. Teaching experience did appear to lead to more integration among PK components. The study includes implications for the teacher education, research, and policy. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 46: 357–383, 2009