Complexity and contradiction: Disciplinary expert teachers in primary science and mathematics education

Author: Reece Mills, Theresa Bourke, Erin Siostrom

Year: 2019

Paper Description

This paper explores a policy in Australia that (at the time of publication) required primary school teachers to have specialized knowledge in science or mathematics. The article reviews the research on this topic and discusses the implications for teacher preparation, professional learning, and school teaching practice.

Key Takeaway 1

Research on this topic is mixed. Some research shows that instructional coaches, who are expert teachers who help other teachers improve their teaching, can have a positive impact on student learning. However, there is not enough evidence to show that specialist teachers or teachers with a specialization in science or mathematics have a positive impact on student learning.

Key Takeaway 2

More research is needed on how to train and how effective expert teachers are, especially in the areas of instructional coaching, leadership and the impact of expert science and mathematics teachers on students’ learning and engagement.

Standout Quote

“This review demonstrates that the nomenclature used to describe expert teachers and their ways of working are highly varied and contextual…”


teacher development, instructional coaching, expertise, expert teachers, mathematics, science, teaching, school improvement