TPACK – time to reboot?
In the editorial "TPACK -- time to reboot?," Saubern et al. (2020) argue that while TPACK has proven to be highly popular foundation for educational technology research, the framework continues to be critiqued today. Specifically, critiques continue to explore the relation to defining and delineating the construct components, the relationships between construct components, measurement and validation, the predictive and prescriptive value of the framework and the relationship between TPACK and practice (Angeli et al., 2016). This editorial reflects on how TPACK scholarship is continuing to evolve with a focus on two key questions:
Using the search terms "TPACK" and "TPCK" to search the AJET website, 44 papers were reduced to 20 that used TPACK substantially as a theoretical or methodological base. The research problem, purpose and research question for each paper were identified and noted and the discussions and conclusions were analyzed in relation to the frameworks original goals.
A common thread found throughout all of the papers is that "to use technology effectively in teaching and learning, teachers must integrate knowledge of technology with knowledge of pedagogy and content" (pg. 3). However, Saubern et al. (2020) explain that a shift in the research occurs between the identification and the application of the TPACK framework. Rather than focusing on the integrated knowledge base of the framework, much of the research examines the several components of the framework separately. They note that few papers, if any, have investigate what it means to develop the knowledge that can only emerge from the application of all three components and the relationship between this knowledge and what is considered effective classroom practice. The central idea of TPACK, Saubern et al. (2020) argues, seems to have slipped away. This editorial claims that the problem lies in the TPACK diagram because it encourages study of the seven components "as if they are the thing that we are interested in" (pg. 5). Analysis of the 20 papers reveals a great deal of time and energy has been spent on validating the structure of TPACK rather than focusing on the integrated knowledge base that emerges from the application of integrating the 7 components. For this reason, the authors argue through this editorial for a reboot in TPACK research. To refocus on understanding the specialist form of knowledge that emerges when knowledge of technology is integrated with pedagogical knowledge and content knowledge. The editorial concludes with a call to action for researchers to engage with the critical question which TPACK may provide insight--how best to improve teaching and learning with technology?
This editorial provides a strong meta-analysis of the existing research surrounding TPACK. Claims made by Saubern et al. (2020) are significant in that they highlight an area of research that has yet to be examined. Through careful analysis of 20 papers, they make convincing claim that if researchers rebooted the focus of research around TPACK to focus on the integration of the seven components and how they work together to allow for the emergence of a specialized, integrated knowledge base the answer to how best to improve teaching and learning with technology may also emerge. The call to action in the conclusion provides future facing language that is helpful for researchers looking to make new contributions to the field while build on the work of those that came before.
As mentioned by the authors, those who have spent time examining best practice models and frameworks for technology integration are familiar with TPACK. What I found particularly interesting was how spot on the authors argument about the use of the frameworks diagram was. I've been introduced to the model by multiple instructors, and yet few have talked about the specialized, integrated knowledge that emerges at the intersection of all seven components. Instead, the all too common introduction is an oversimplification of the three intersecting circles. While I’m not particularly interested in exploring how TPACK can be used to answer the question of how best to improve teaching and learning with technology, the meta analysis of the 20 papers certainly makes the case for someone who is interested in pursuing this line of thinking.
Angeli, C., Valanides, N., & Christodoulou, A. (2016). Theoretical Considerations of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. In M. Herring, M. J. Koehler, & P. Mishra (Eds.), Handbook of technological pedagogical content knowledge (2nd ed) (pp. 21–42). Routledge.
Saubern, R., Henderson, M., Heinrich, E., & Redmond, P. (2020). TPACK–time to reboot?. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 36(3), 1-9.