The influence of an in-service training programme on Libyan Biology teachers' pedagogical content knowledge (PCK)
Libya, as one of the third world countries, is struggling to address the issue of transformation and various institutional reforms (including the education system). For example, it has been observed that many biology teachers are faced with challenges relating to both subject matter knowledge (SMK) and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) yet the expectation of the new curriculum is that biology teachers demonstrate professional efficacy in their work regardless of the challenges they face. In light of this, a group of Libyan secondary school biology teachers was investigated in Tripoli through a participatory action research process. The study was underpinned by the Shulman theory of PCK using a mixed-methods design to generate an understanding of the theory of basic knowledge of teaching. This investigation examined the influence of an in-service training programme consisting of three components of PCK namely: teachers‘ subject matter knowledge (SMK); use of instructional strategies; and understanding of learners on a group of Libyan biology teachers‘ instructional practices. On the one hand, the investigation considered their theoretical knowledge, and their experiences during the professional development programme aimed at designing new teaching and learning activities and materials while on the other hand, it considered their practical knowledge in terms of their professional skills or their practical use of what has been learned during their pre-service training as well as what they learned during the professional development programme. Specifically, the study focused on biology teachers from the Hai Alandalus District (Libya). This representation enabled me to unveil the PCK components held to some extent by the Libyan teachers in general. Moreover, the PCK representation has also enabled me to clarify the category of the teachers‘ PCK in the Libyan context especially as their PCK was unknown at the commencement of the study. The findings have shown that the professional development used in the study facilitated the biology teachers‘ ability in several ways such as increased their PCK and SMK; improved their ability to organize activity-based lessons; increased their desire to use a variety of instructional strategies; increased the understanding of their learners‘ needs; improved their awareness that their learners‘ performance is not unrelated to their socio-economic background; and so on. Overall, the findings suggest that designing and implementing new teaching and learning activities and materials based on the teachers‘ knowledge, experiences, and needs, in a workshop context could provide an enabling learning environment for them as well as facilitate their potential to provide a powerful means for increasing their PCK, SMK and understanding their learners. The study also reveals that there is a great necessity for designers to mount professional development programmes that take into consideration the teachers‘ PCK to meaningfully promote their professional development and instructional practices.