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Teaching out-of-field: factors shaping identities of secondary science and mathematics.

There is wide acceptance that there are teacher shortages, particularly in physics, chemistry and mathematics, and in rural and hard to staff schools. An issue that arises because of this shortage is teachers teaching subjects that they are not qualified to teach. In this paper, I draw on my research and that of others to outline the issues for teachers who are teaching outside their subject areas, or 'out-of-field', particularly at the junior secondary level, and particularly in Mathematics or Science. This practice is prevalent in many Australian schools and it has enormous implications for policy and practice around school governance, funding arrangements and structures associated with continued teacher development, and initial teacher education. In this paper, I refer to only the teacher perspective, but this issue ultimately impacts on the quality of the education we provide students. I conclude with recommendations for school governance practices, teacher education and professional development.


Over the past eight years, my research has focused on the teacher and the role of the subject in shaping their identity and practice (Darby, 2010a; Darby, 2010b) A strong voice resonating from this research came from the teacher who lacked a background in the subject, was not qualified to teach it, did not have stories to tell students, and did not personally identify with the subject and so lacked confidence and 'flamboyance' in their teaching. These teachers saw themselves as out-of-field, teaching the subject because they had to. Is this a problem? If it is, then why are teachers given teaching allotments that do not match their qualifications? Do all teachers in this situation see that they are, in fact, out-of-field? And how might these teachers be supported?

This paper explores these questions by describing:

(a) The incidence of out-of-field teaching in Mathematics and Science in Australian schools;

(b) Key issues that arise relating to out-of-field teaching, as represented in the literature;

(c) Identity and professional learning of out-of-field teachers, arising from my research into teachers of mathematics and science teaching out-of-field; and

(d) Key learnings.


In Australia, the issue of teaching out-of-field is continuing to attract media attention due to various reports documenting the staffing profiles in different states and territories. Focusing on research relating to Maths and Science teachers, Table 1 (over page) summarises the incidences reported over past years:

Other reports in the media reflect similar or higher proportions of teachers teaching outside their fields of expertise (Topsfield, 2007; Rodd, 2007; Dillon, 2011; White, 2011) Recent international and Australian studies have drawn attention to this practice by citing limited support structures and processes as compounding factors, and describing effects on teachers, learners, colleagues, parents, governing bodies and school management (see, for example, Steyn & du Plessis, 2007). Data emerging from research into teacher supply and demand demonstrate how poor attraction and retention of teachers increases the extent and longevity of teaching out-of-field. Studies examining the Australian science and maths teaching workforce indicate that the incidence of teaching mathematics or science out-of-field is a constant reality (Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations, 2008, Ingvarson, et al., 2004; 2009a; Tasmanian Audit Office, 2010). As presented in Table 1, percentages of teachers lacking qualifications to teach are on average 16% for science teachers, and around 24% for maths teachers. This of course depends on location, with higher percentages in rural and regional Australia. Most startling is that in Tasmania, only 49% of teachers of science surveyed had a science degree.

Ingersoll (2002) places at the heart of the issue, at least in US schools, not supply/demand imbalances and inadequate initial teacher education, but 'the manner in which schools are organized and teachers are employed and utilized' (p. 24). Internationally, the OECD (McKenzie, et al., 2005) raise the equity issue, reporting that 'Teacher shortage problems seem to be most acute in schools serving disadvantaged or isolated communities' (p.39). ). Ingersoll (2002) extends this point: 'Unequal access to qualified teachers and, hence, to quality teaching is considered a primary factor in the stratification of educational resources, opportunities to learn, and, ultimately, educational outcomes' (p. 3). More locally in Australia, a report by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (2008) shows an increasing trend in the percentage of Government schools reporting difficulties in filling teacher vacancies, particularly in some rural or regional areas, and particularly in the learning areas of mathematics, science and technology. Teaching out-of-field is inevitable under such circumstances (Australian Education Union, 2009; Lyons, et al., 2006). In fact, Lyons et al. reported data that science, ICT and mathematics were two times more likely, and in remote towns three times more likely, to be taught by unqualified teachers than in metropolitan schools (see Table 1).


International studies highlight the significance of this issue as influencing the quality of educational outcomes, and teacher well-being (see, for example, Ingersoll, 1998, 2002). The blueprint for energising science and mathematics education in Victoria (DEECD, 2009) signals the need to build teacher capacity; however, high proportions of teaching out-of field potentially undermine efforts to achieve this end.

Research often identifies a lack of content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge as being the key issue for teachers (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Education & Training Committee, 2006, Ingersoll, 1998). Ponte and Chapman (2008) reported that '[while] having strong knowledge of mathematics does not guarantee that one will be an effective mathematics teacher, teachers who do not have such knowledge are likely to be limited in their ability to help students develop relational and conceptual understanding' (p. 226). Research has also found that teaching out-of-field can compromise 'teaching competence', and can disrupt a teacher's identity, self-efficacy and well being (Pillay, Goddard, & Wilss, 2005). It also places additional strain on subject coordinators and school administrators due to the extra support, mentoring and resources required (Taylor, 2000). In addition, Ingersoll raised concerns that the extent of teacher shortages is masked when underqualified teachers fill these positions, resulting in an unrealistic picture of the crisis facing schools (Ingersoll, 1998). The reality is that many schools experience difficulty recruiting qualified teaching staff, and the problem is exacerbated by the aging staff profile, uncertainty about career paths, and poor teacher retention partly as a result of job dissatisfaction (Harris & Jensz, 2006; Harris, et al, 2005). McConney and Price (2009b) add: 'given continued teacher shortages, the realities of staff to student ratios in small communities, changing workforce patterns in a globalised economy, and the need and desire for greater staffing flexibility in the teaching workforce, the practice is likely to continue' (p. 96). In light of the expected longevity of this issue, further understanding of its effect on teachers will inform appropriate local and systemic responses.


Despite a growing body of data documenting its extent, teaching out-of-field is under-theorised in terms of impact on the teacher. Given that mathematics and science are key areas of policy concern, there is an urgent need to gain a more complex understanding of the experience of teaching out-of-field, and to understand teachers' position in this increasingly common practice in order to provide appropriate system responses. Teacher identity and self-efficacy influence the quality of mathematics and science education, but McConney and Price (2009a) claim that these areas are thus far under-researched in relation to teachers teaching out-of-field. While the term 'out-of field' has a technical meaning relating to education and discipline-related qualifications (McConney & Price, 2009b), in a more significant sense there is a need to consider how teachers identify themselves and their practice as being out-of-field, and factors that influence whether the technical definition aligns with their self-assessment.

Teacher identity can be regarded as 'being recognized by self or others as a certain kind of teacher' (Luehmann, 2007). The development of a subject teacher is a continuous process of identity construction that takes place as the teacher interacts with and reflects on their professional and personal experiences. Contemporary understanding of identity recognises:

  The close connection between identity and the self, the role of
  emotion in shaping identity, the power of stones and discourse
  in understanding identity, the role of reflection in shaping
  identity, the link between identity and agency, the contextual
  factors that promote or hinder the construction of identity,
  and ultimately the responsibility of teacher education programs
  to create opportunities tor the exploration of new and developing
  teacher identities. (Beauchamp & Thomas. 2009, p. 176)

When teachers step outside, their comfort zone, they risk disruption to how they see themselves as teachers such is the case for many out-of-field teachers.

I recommend that policy makers consider the many factors that teachers take into account when describing themselves as subject teachers, that is, whether they see themselves as in-field or out-of-field.

TIIAS Pilot Study

In 2009, I completed a study, the Teacher Identity In and Across Subjects Pilot study (reported in Darby, 2010b), into the professional identity and support mechanisms for out-of-field teachers (research funded by Science, ICT and Maths Education in Rural and Regional Australia [SiMERR]). The project generated rich qualitative data at a local level through school-based field research at three Victorian rural or regional secondary schools (School A, School B, and School C). Interviewees included: two principals or assistant principals, one mathematics teaching and learning coach, eighteen teachers, and one laboratory technician. The teachers only were included in the analysis that is referred to in this paper. The teachers included three graduate teachers, three early career teachers (1-5 years experience), five middle career teachers (6-15 years experience), and seven late career teachers (16+ year experience). All had taught mathematics and/or science at some point in their teaching career. Table 2 summarises the participants' background, teaching allotments (whole career) and perceptions of in-field or out-field.

The teacher interview questions were based on the following

* Background and qualifications for their in-field and out-of-field subjects;

* Perceived differences in the teaching in in-field and out-of-field subjects;

* Teachers' coping strategies;

* Preparation through pre-service teacher education;

* Pattern of professional development uptake;

* Differences in the way the teacher operated in the departments of both subject areas; and

* The place that each subject has in the teacher's construction of a professional identity, and how this might be seen to influence their teaching.

In the discussion below, I use excerpts from the interviews that highlight the different factors that influenced whether they felt out-of-field in any of their teaching allotments. The teacher name (pseudonym) and level of experience is included with their excerpts.

What factors determined whether teachers saw themselves as out-of-field?

I found that it was not just content knowledge, but that many factors influenced whether a teacher labeled themselves as 'out-of-field'. These factors related to: context, support, and personal factors. Figure 1 summarises these factors, and a description of how these factors relate to each other is provided below.


Contextual factors related to geographical region, school size and design, and school and state governance structures, practice and policy.

Rurality, focused on this study, created a range of limitations and possibilities for the out-of-field teachers, influencing availability of resources, collegial support, and professional learning opportunities. Some teachers recognized teaching out-of-field as part of their identity and role as rural teachers:

  Kevin (34 years teaching):/think the challenges are probably created
  because over a period of time you become settled in the areas for
  which you are qualified and feel comfortable. Then suddenly, you
  find years later, perhaps you are moving into another area, it is
  a challenge. But I think that's what teaching is all about, a
  challenge, and certainly if you're working in a bush school like
  School B I think you've got to be fairly adaptable and where
  possible try and accommodate, the needs of the school, more so
  the needs of the students, and I feel happy with that.

While rural settings provide many benefits for schools, rurality limits the support mechanisms available because there are limited subject specialists close by to ask for advice, and professional development is held at great distances from the school. Certainly, difficulties in attraction and retention of qualified teachers in rural areas provide a constant pressure on schools.

Governance practices determining the circumstances of teacher allotment had some bearing on whether teachers felt out-of-field. For the teacher, decisions by administration translated into the degree of choice, or autonomy that teachers had in determining their teaching load and career generally. For leadership, decisions were made out of a need to fill the gaps in the timetable. Leadership sometimes asked teachers if they were interested in, or felt confident teaching a subject, so, in some circumstances, teachers had some input into their allocation. Science teachers were often targeted for maths. The views of three teachers are given below: Tahlia, who was responsible for the timetable at one school, recognised the dilemma facing school leadership; and Nelly and Rick explain different circumstances under which they have taught out-of-field.

  Tohlia (23 years teaching): There's two types [of teachers] ...
  You've got a group that may not be qualified, but have got an
  interest and understanding, even though it's not on paper. And I
  think that's probably better, if they're interested and know their
  stuff; but also some teachers have to be just put in an area, like
  for example, like I had to put A2 into science, not that she wanted
  to. But she was our design tech person, and if we wanted to accept
  her husband here who is also design tech there's not enough design
  tech for two of them. So I said someone's got to be prepared to
  teach outside their area and she said 'Oh yes, I will I will'.
  So she's prepared to, but, although she didn't have the knowledge
  to start with they need to be prepared to get to know their stuff.
  But also have good control good teaching skills.
  Nelly (9 years teaching): Sometimes it would mean that the person
  who would normally teach that subject is away, like on leave or
  something for an extended period of time. So you might be on your own
  and perhaps having to rely on friends or other people in other
  schools or people here who might have taught the subject before
  for any support that you might need.
  Rick (20 years teaching): History is out-of-field [for me], but it
  was an interest area ... When I first came here I had two maths
  classes, and then the science teacher left, so I took more
  science, and I've only-In the last three years-started to teach
  maths again. And I asked to do that; because if I wanted to
  get a transfer I thought that having a bit of maths behind
  you would help.

The data presented here shows that teachers found themselves teaching out-of-field for a number of reasons:

* 'Covering' someone else's load on a short or medium term;

* Filling in on a longer term to cover a longer absence;

* Load allocation, where there are no other teachers available; and

* By request to do something that was of interest or for other advantages.


The level of support was an important factor. The degree to which a teacher felt supported by teachers within the school, from networks outside of the school, and by documentation, impacted on teachers who wanted to improve in their practice. Generally speaking, as teachers adapt to different educational environments, they construct their knowledge and beliefs 'from the perspectives of self-in-relation-to-social context' (Simmons et al, 2008, p. 948). Expectations placed on teachers by the school context, such as having to teach out-of-field, require teachers to adapt to different educational environments. Simmons et al. explain that 'the environment in which one functions, especially with regard to the expectations of others, contributes to teachers modifying their actions and eventually their beliefs' (p. 932). If teachers are to adapt to the new field or domain, conditions must be conducive for them to make the necessary adjustments to their knowledge, but also their perceptions of themselves as teachers of the subject. Thus, support mechanisms are vital.

Table 3 lists the support mechanisms mentioned by teachers in the interviews. The support mechanisms are arranged into three categories that recognise their mode of access. The analysis has shown that teachers accessed support mechanisms: structures provided by the school to support teaching; resources that teachers sought and initiated; and resources and structures constructed by the teacher and that required some personal investment.

Distance played a factor in uptake of professional development generally, but especially in the out-of field subjects because in-field professional development tended to be preferred. Alternative PD or teaching arrangements were often developed, and were sometimes successful, such as sharing of expertise from teachers at other rural schools, or participation in cross marking where teachers joined with teachers from schools in adjoining regions for assessment purposes. Regardless of context, the most effective professional development is, 'On-going, includes training, practice and feedback, and provides adequate time and follow-up support. Successful programmes involve teachers in learning activities that are similar to ones they will use with their students, and encourage the development of teachers' learning communities' (OECD, 2005, p.95). Rather than disjointed, one-off professional development events, a range of support mechanisms over a period of time that is negotiated or initiated by the teacher and offered at the teacher's point of need, is more likely to lead to real professional learning and identity development.


1. Support materials

a. Curriculum & syllabus documents

b. Provision of materials

c. Textbook

2. Processes and people

a. Strong direction, leadership

b. Reduced allocation

c. Meetings

d. Team teaching

e. Observing others

I Formalised induction

g. Mentors

h. Access to Principal

i. PD In-service (school initiative)

SOUGHT SUPPORT 3. Professional Development

a. PD External [school or self motivated)

b. Further study

4. Collegia! sharing and discourse

a. Sharing of resources

b. Discussion of concepts and teaching ideas (Expert others)

c. Mentors

e. Inferschool links, networking

5. External support

a. Family and friends

b. Community resources


6. Personal experiences

a. Collecting examples and stories relevant to the topic

b. Interests informing curriculum development

7. Personal research

a. Mastery of concepts

c. Collecting resources

d. Construction of resources

Table 3: Support mechanisms used by out-of-fidld teachers.

Personal Resources

Personal Resources included teachers' adaptive expertise, knowledge, and confidence and commitment as dispositions.

Adaptive expertise, which is the ability to apply knowledge effectively to novel problems or atypical cases in a domain (Holyoak, 1991), is a useful lens for examining teacher adaptability. Two dimensions of expertise are efficiency and innovation (Schwartz, Bransford, & Sears, 2005). Efficiency refers to the high level of knowledge and skills that can be applied to a problem. Teachers who are highly efficient have much experience with using such knowledge, but they practice in a relatively stable environment. Innovation requires moving away from efficiency momentarily and unlearning previous routines. Teachers who engage in innovation experience some degree of ambiguity or uncertainty and there is a letting go of held beliefs. As discussed above, teaching is a dynamic career, where broad scale and local changes mean that teachers are continually learning new things and need to adapt. Teachers find themselves in situations where they must 'do research', learn from colleagues and be adaptable. How a teacher copes in these situations is not just critical to their practice but also to their professional identity The level of autonomy or choice that teachers have can influence their capacity or willingness to adapt. Some of the teachers in this study welcomed the opportunity to teach a new subject and were willing to forego the efficiency of their in-field practice and embrace the required innovation to adapt to the out-of-field setting: others held strongly to the high degree of efficiency in the preferred field and were consequently resistant to change. Teacher knowledge was a major factor influencing how teachers felt about their in-field and out-of-field teaching. Teachers referred to:

* Background in a discipline through university training or exposure was strongly represented in the data. Some teachers maintained that tertiary qualifications in an area is a necessity to teach a subject effectively, no matter how much experience one has teaching the subject: others felt exposure and practice equipped them with the necessary knowledge.

* Knowledge of how to teach referred to knowing how to teach the subject, whether teachers relied on traditional teaching approaches or searched for innovative and more engaging strategies, and how to apply the content in practical ways that students would understand, such as knowing stories or examples that apply science ideas. Interestingly, some teachers felt out-of-field because they lacked knowledge of how to engage the students, while other teachers felt in-field because they were happy to perpetuate traditional approaches.

* Knowledge and accessibility of curriculum documents were mentioned by one teacher. Having a curriculum document or syllabus that guides what needs to be taught, teaching strategies and activities made some teachers feel less out-of-field.

* Knowledge of learners was raised in relation to whether teachers had adequate knowledge and skills for particular years levels or types of learners, and was considered by some to be more significant for less experienced teachers, or was raised in relation to differences between primary and secondary students.

Confidence and commitment were two dispositions that were associated with the other factors. Having confidence with disciplinary ideas and modes of inquiry appeared to determine the degree to which teachers felt out-of-field and was mentioned by many teachers. Confidence often meant having the necessary knowledge of content, strategies and learners. Confidence was seen to be gained through the range of support mechanisms mentioned in Table 2, but especially through:

* Tertiary exposure;

* Researching subject matter;

* Teaching the topic a number of times;

* In-service training or professional development; and

* Other support mechanisms in or out of school. Teacher commitment was manifested as:

A pedagogical imperative was evident where a teacher took seriously the ethical responsibility of teaching and was committed to doing the best thing for their students. A personal imperative was evident where a teacher was committed to the subject due to their personal interest in that discipline. Passions are often associated with these imperatives: a passion for students, a passion for the subject, and a passion for engaging students in the subject (Darby, 2009). In this study, there was an assumed interest in the in-field subject partly because teachers' identities were bound up in a background of interaction with the subject; they were thus more likely to identify themselves in a particular way, for example, 'I am a maths-trained teacher. When teaching out-of-field, there is no taken for-granted alignment with the subject, so justification for teaching a subject must come from somewhere else in the teacher's background, some positive interaction, interest or pattern of success that enables the teacher to relate to it or identify with it. Problems arise for teachers when this socio-historical interaction with the subject is missing, negative or ambivalent. Wanting to do the best thing for their students, the pedagogical imperative, becomes a driver for those teachers who have little passion for the actual subject. Teachers who are passionate about their students' education spend time preparing and searching for materials, seek support, basically act professionally in their conduct. However, if teachers are not able to devote time or energy to acquainting themselves with the new knowledge, modes of enquiry or teaching strategies, or make links between engaging activities and the related concepts, professional learning can be limited, resulting in reliance on traditional and ineffective, less engaging teaching practices. Various reasons, such as short term appointments, devotion to preferred subject areas, lack of autonomy, lack of time or support, or simply lack of interest or motivation, can make it difficult for the out-of-field teacher to embrace this pedagogical imperative and thus cater for student learning needs.

Influence of these factors on the identity of out-of-field teachers

A major point of consideration for the Productivity Commission is that teachers respond to their out-of field allocation in a variety of ways, suggesting that any response to amending the problem of out-of-field teaching needs to be complex and respond to the individual needs of schools and teachers. A teacher's response to teaching out-of-field demonstrates their adaptability, their commitment to the subject, beliefs about their role, and identity as teachers. Figure 3 presents what I have called an Adaptability Scale for teaching out-of-field (Hobbs, in press).

Teachers can be situated on this scale to reflect their level of commitment and their identity in relation to the subject. Teachers who are 'just filling in' have limited or no identity in relation to the subject, possibly because of a history of failure or negative experiences, they can't relate to it, they lack interest, or lack knowledge of how to teach it Teachers who are 'pursuing an interest' have expanded their identity to being a teacher of that subject due to a personal interest and high level of self-efficacy arising from positive historical interactions with the subject. Teachers who are 'making the most of it' tend to be committed to endeavouring to engage students through interesting, contextualised learning experiences Based on my research findings, I posit that how the teacher sees themselves in this out-of-field role will influence their interest and ability to engage with professional learning and professional development designed to up-skill teachers. To illustrate the relationships between teachers' use of support mechanisms and identity development, I refer to the experiences of three teachers:

Daniel, Seral and Rebecca. Daniel could be identified as 'just filling in' in mathematics. He had taught maths and science for the same amount of time (10 years), but is not maths qualified. Daniel was philosophically opposed to having to teach mathematics because he believed that qualifications legitimated one's role as a subject teacher. Daniel took advantage of a government initiative where he could upgrade his qualifications to teach ICT. In maths, he felt that searching for engaging problem-based activities was a waste of time since he did not fully understand the concepts behind them, a product of his lack of formal training in the subject. He was not motivated to participate in maths-related departmental activities or PDs.

Seral, a first year psychology teacher, could be seen as 'pursuing an interest' as she had a personal interest in mathematics and high level of self-efficacy arising from positive historical interactions with the subject. She requested to have mathematics in her teaching load. She spent considerable amounts of time talking to maths specialist teachers in the school and researching interesting activities. Seral referred to her history of success in high school, the support of her mother who was a mathematics specialist teacher, and an interest in the subject, as a justification for feeling in-field when technically out-of-field.

Rebecca (2 years teaching) could be seen to be 'making the most of it' because, although she did not necessarily see herself as a maths teacher, she was committed to endeavouring to engage students through interesting, contextualised learning experiences. Rebecca had been part of a successful teaching team facilitated by a maths Teaching and Learning Coach who worked with the teachers to develop a differentiated mathematics program designed for a new open space classroom. Collegial support played a valuable role in building competence and confidence, leading to the development of a more positive identity in relation to the subject.


Any response to this issue of teaching out-of-field should principally attend to the issues around teacher supply and demand. However, given that these problems are unlikely to be resolved immediately, in the interim, and in light of the findings presented above, I offer the following key learnings:

* A more complex definition of teaching out-of-field is needed that recognises the influence of teacher's personal resources, context and support needs on their levels of competence and confidence with respect to teaching out-of-field.

* The support needs of out-of-field teachers are not universal, but differ with the personal resources of the teacher and context. Schools and governments should ensure teachers have access to a range of structures to support subject boundary negotiation.

* The uptake of professional development or re training schemes will depend on how teachers see themselves in relation to the subject-whether they see themselves as 'just filling in', 'making the most of it' for the benefit of their students, or 'pursuing an interest'. Teachers who are personally interested in the subject are more likely to take up such opportunities. However, further research is needed to investigate teachers' motivations for undertaking professional development.

* Rather than disjointed, one-off professional development events, a range of support mechanisms over a period of time that are negotiated or initiated by the teacher and offered at the teacher's point of need, is more likely to lead to real professional learning and identity development.

* Context has a shaping influence on the range of support mechanisms available. There is a need for closer examination of the availability, variety and opportunity for teacher support in rural and regional areas, and comparison with other geographical regions.

* Promote leadership models that encourage teacher participation and professional dialogue around teacher allocation gives teachers' more control over their career and professional development. Consider teachers' interests, commitments, and confidence in relation to out-of-field subjects when allocating teacher loads.

* There is a need for a focus in teacher education on the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to increase teachers' adaptability when faced with having to move outside their domain.

* Inexperienced teachers who have not yet developed expertise may be less suited to teaching a subject out-of-field. However, it is also important to recognise that there are many factors that can impact a teacher's appropriateness to teach a subject out-of-field that may or may not depend on level of experience.

These findings may apply to many beginning teachers who are faced with a steep learning curve in their first few years of teaching. The range of support mechanism types and modes of access may be useful for any beginning teacher, regardless of whether they are in field or out-of-field. Recognition by school leadership of what is involved for teachers when they teach out-of field, and an awareness of the requisite conditions for teachers to approach instances of teaching out-of-field as opportunities for professional learning, where they are 'pursuing an interest' instead of 'just filling in'.


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White, A. (2011, May 29). NSW Secondary mathematics teachers battered by a 'perfect storm'. Editor21C in Education Policy and Politics, Educational Leadership, Primary Education, Secondary Education. Retrieved from htto://leaming21c.wordpress. com/2011/05/29/nsw-secondary-mathematics-teachers-battered by-a-perfect-storm/ill

                                         TO MIDDLE SCHOOL SCIENCE AND/OR

Department of          National online   * 5-13% of secondary teachers
Education Employment   survey of         of Year 1! and 12 Maths,
and Workplace          teachers and      Physics, Chemistry did not have
Relations (2008)       school leaders    a 1 year tertiary qualification
Staff in Australian                      in these areas.
Schools                                  * 25% of junior maths teachers
                                         were not 1 year qualified
                                         * 50% of junior maths teachers
                                         were not 3 year qualified

Ingvarson, Beavis &    Survey of         * 13-20% of graduate primary
Kleinhenz (2004)       Victorian         teachers felt unqualified to
Teacher education      graduate          teach at the level they were
courses in Victoria    teachers          teaching
                                         * 15% of science teachers felt
                                         unqualified to teach
                                         * 25-30/S of other teachers
                                         felt unqualified

Harris et al (2005)    Survey of 8.2%    * 16% of all science teachers
Who's Teaching         of Australian     and 28% of science teachers
Science                junior science    possessed no science-based
                       teachers          degrees
                                         * 8% of all science teachers
                                         and 22% of Year 7 and 8 science
                                         teachers did not complete any
                                         science subject s at

Harris & Jensz (2006)  Survey of         * 20% of teachers of junior
The preparation of     mathematics       mathematics had not studied
mathematics teachers   teachers from     maths beyond first year
in Australia           30% of            * 8% had no tertiary training
                       Australian        in mathematics

Lyons, Cooksey,        National survey   * Science ICT and maths
Panizzon, Parnell, &                     teachers in provincial towns
Pegg,(2006) The                          are twice as likely, and in
SiMERR National                          remote towns three times as
Survey                                   likely, than teachers in
                                         metropolitan centres to teach
                                         subjects which they were
                                         unqualified for

McConney & Price       Western           * 24% of teachers overall
(2009) An assessment   Australian        taught out-of-field in 2007 and
of the phenomenon of   survey of 535     2008.
''teaching out-        primary and       * 16% of maths teachers
of-fie/d" in WA        secondary         * 18% of science teachers
schools                schools

Tas Audit Office       Survey and        * 49% of sample had a science
(2010) Science         interviews with   degree
Education in public    Tasmanian         * 26% Bachelor of Education
high schools,          science           degree with science
Tasmania               teachers          specialisation
                                         * 5% of teachers had no science
                                         component in their

Panizzon, Westell &    Survey with       * 16% of general science
Elliott (201 1         South Australian  teachers were unqualified
Prof//e of teachers    science
of secondary science   teachers

Table 1: Studies explorintg issues surrounding teaching middle school
science and/or maths out-of-field in Australia.

                                      TEACHINA      TEACHINA


Serai       A4    1  B A (Hons),     Psychology    Maths (8,9) *
                     Dip Ed           (11, 12) #

Suzie       B6    1  BEd / BSc        Science       Maths (7);
                     (Biology,        (8-10);      Food science
                     Environmental    Biology (10,  (10)
                     Education        12)

Gregor      b7    1  B. Engineering,  Maths jnr     Physics
                     Dip Ed (Maths,   and snr;      (11,12)
                     ICT methods)     ICT


Annabel     A2    2  Dip.             Agriculture   Hospitality
                     Agriculture,     (VCE / VET)   (VET (2) );
                     GDE Technology                 Health (9, 11)
                     Education;                       Junior
                     Certificate 4                  science (7,
                     Nursing                        10); Woodwork

Rebecca     C2    2  B Welfare, B Ed  Primary /     Maths (8);
                     (P-12J           secondary     Science (8)
                     (Generalist      trained;
                     Primary, SOSE    SOSE' (2);
                     (3), Health,    Health; PE
                     PE (5) methods)

Karen       Bl    3  B App Sc         Jnr Science;  Jnr and Snr
                     (Environmental   Snr           maths
                     Management),    Chemistry
                     GDE (Sec)

Nelly       A7    9  B Sc             Chemistry     Business Admin
                     (Chemistry),    (11,12);     / Accounting;
                     GDE (Chemistry,  General       Admin
                     General          science       Certificate
                     Science)         (8,9)         (TAFE*)

Daniel      C1   10  B Ed             Physics       Agriculture;
                     (secondary)      (11,12);     English; Maths
                     (Environmental   Information   (7-11)
                     education,       Techology     Biology (12)
                     Humanities /     (10);
                     SOSE), Grad     Science
                     Dip (Physics),  (7-10)
                     Grad Dip (IT)


Narelle    A12    9  3Ec! (Phys Ed)   PE (9-12);   Jnr and Snr
                     (PE. Health,     Health        maths
                     Outdoor Ed)

Kerry      A10    6  ' Dip Teach,     Primary       Music (7-10);
                     BEd (4th yr)     teacher;      Textiles
                                      Music (P-6)   (7-10);
                                                    Maths (VCAL3)
                                                    Science (8)
                                                    (7-10); Art


Rachel     All   13  Bachelor of      Snr           Information
                     Education        Accounting,   Management;
                     Secondary:       Legal         Maths (7);
                     (Business)       Studies,      English (8)

Simeon      A5   20  Dip Teach        Primary       Maths (7)
                     (Maths major,    teacher
                     English minor)
                      B Ed (4th yr)

Rowey       A8   30  B Ed (PE)        PE; Biology   Maths (7);
                     (Health, PE,     (Snr);       Science (7)
                     Biology)         Health

Tahlia      A6   23  B Sc (Applied    General       Book keeping
                     maths.           science       (11); Maths
                     Chemistry),     (7-10);      (4) Careers
                     Dip Ed. (Maths,  Maths (7-12)  advisor
                     Chemistry         Biology
                     methods)         (12)

Rick        B3   20  BAppSc           Snr           History;
                     (Biochemistry,   Chemistry;    Agricultural
                     Microbiology,    Snr Biology;  and
                     Chemistry),     Jnr science   horticultural
                     GDE (Chemistry,  (7,9,10)      science (11,
                     Biology                        12); Maths
                     methods)                       (9, 10);
                                                    Flight (9 /
                                                    10); Careers

Kevin       B4   34  B Econ, Dip Ed   Snr           Maths (VCAL
                     (Economics,      Economics,    / J
                     history          Commerce;
                     methods)         Geography

Gerome      B5   30  BArts in         Primary       Science
                     Education, BEd   teacher
                     (4th yr)

Sandra      A9   25  BSc (Hons)       Maths (7-12)  Science (10);
                     (Statistics),                 Agricultural
                     Dip. Ed.|                      science;
                     (Maths)                        German

# Year level in parentheses, * Bolded subjects are where techers have
self-assessed themselves differently to the thchnical definition, (1)
Victorian Certificate of Education, (2) Vocational Education and
Training, (3) Studies of sociies and Encironment. (4) Studies of
sociies and Encironment. (5) Physical Education. (6) Rraining and
Further Education (7) Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning

Table 2: All tacher participants' teaching experience, qualifications
and self-assesment of in-field or out-of-field

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda Hobbs is a lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University, Victoria.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Hobbs, Linda
Publication:Teaching Science
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Mar 1, 2012
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