Task Force: Pedagogical Knowledge of Geotechnical Engineering

Most ISSMGE Technical Committees are dedicated to specialized topics within Geotechnical Engineering. TC306 focuses on the key principles and concepts typically covered in undergraduate curricula. Among its aims is to promote the approach of content from a teaching point of view, known in the literature of education as Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK). To underscore its aim to highlight how content interacts with pedagogy, TC306 expanded the scope of Task Force “What to Teach” and changed its name to “Pedagogical Knowledge of Geotechnical Engineering”. Priority topics for the study of these content-pedagogy interactions are those related to the minimum achievements of graduates, to what all graduates can do.

Approaching content from a teaching point of view was proposed by Lee Shulman (1986) in his seminal paper “Those Who Understand: Knowledge Growth in Teaching”. In essence, Shulman (1986) argued for the usefulness of developing a supplementary body of knowledge for every thematic field X: the pedagogical knowledge of X. This body of knowledge includes “the most powerful analogies, illustrations, examples, explanations and demonstrations” and “understanding of what makes the learning of specific topics easy or difficult”.