Coping in complex, changing classroom contexts: An investigation of the bases of pre-service teachers’ pedagogic reasoning

Keywords: pre-service teachers


Despite its central role in enabling professional judgements and decision-making in teaching, pedagogical reasoning is a slippery concept and difficult to pin down. Although pedagogical reasoning is understood to inform all aspects of teaching practice, we still do not know what pedagogical reasoning looks like. In this article, I present a set of conceptual tools, using concepts from Legitimation Code Theory (Maton, 2014), to analytically explore the differences between the abstraction and complexity of ideas expressed in the pedagogical reasoning of differently qualified pre-service teachers. I argue that pre-service teachers must be able to abstract and generalise their pedagogical reasoning, working with complex, specialised concepts associated with context-independent principles, in order to distinguish the ‘formal elements’ from the ‘material elements’ of teaching (Morrow, 2005). Being able to make this distinction, I argue, is likely to set pre-service teachers up to cope in complex, changing classroom contexts.