Conceptual Understanding

Assists in drawing distinctions between knowing how to do something (procedural or skill understanding) and knowing what something means (conceptual understanding). For example, understanding 1 divided by should include both how to do the calculation (procedural understanding) and what 1 divided by means (conceptual understanding); i.e., being able to calculate a derivative of a function is different from knowing what that derivative means.

Content Specialist

A person who has extensive training in and knowledge of a subject area and can both teach that subject to students and help other teachers become more knowledgeable about the subject. Most commonly, this term is used to describe teachers in grades K-12 who have focused their education on mastering the content of specific disciplines. In science and mathematics education, there has been an ongoing debate about whether content specialists are needed and appropriate to teach these subjects effectively in the primary and middle grades.


In a subject area—acknowledges that a teacher has studied that subject area at such a level and with enough demonstrated proficiency to be able to teach it effectively. Teachers may seek endorsements in more than one area of expertise that complements or expands understanding of their primary content area of knowledge. For example, in some states a teacher may be certified to teach in the secondary grades with an endorsement in science. In other cases, a teacher may be certified to teach science with an endorsement in physics.

Field Component of Teacher Education

The time that preservice teachers spend in schools and classrooms working with mentor teachers. The practicum is considered to be one part of a preservice teacher’s field component of teacher education. Commonly, a faculty member from the student teacher’s college or university oversees field components. Increasingly, field components of teacher

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