Teacher effectiveness is argued to depend on sound pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) at topic level referred to as topic specific (PCK). The development of sound content knowledge for in-service science teachers through professional development (PTD) workshops has been a focus for the South African department of education over the years. The aim of the study was to explore the effect of a PTD programme on the development of subject advisors’ PCK of the energy concept. The rationale for the selection of the energy concept was based on the central role played by the energy concept as a cross-cutting concept in science. The study sought to provide answers to the following main research question: How does a PTD workshop develop the quality of physical science subject advisors’ TSPCK of the energy concept?
The study followed a qualitative research approach, based on the post-positivist paradigm and a case study design. A conceptual framework adapted from Mavhunga (2014) and Gess-Newsome (2015) was used which links PCK to five components through which transformation emerges. A sample of fifteen physical science subject advisors from a province in South Africa was conveniently sampled and they completed the pre- and post-assessment CoRes. The participants’ written CoRes were then scored using an expert CoRe and rubric that were designed by the researcher. The validity of the expert CoRe and the rubric were aided by the use of the Rasch model. The model indicated reversed thresholds for some prompts and the researcher had to adjust the rubric until all the prompts indicated ordered thresholds before the final scoring process. To aid to the trustworthiness of the data collected, the researcher employed triangulation, data collection involved a semi-structured interview, document analysis of the workshop study manual and data from the CoRes. Data was interpreted and analysed using content analysis and the results suggested that the subject advisors’ PCK of the energy concept improved after the PTD workshop. The improvement was more noticeable in the TSPCK components that were addressed during the workshop. It is however apparent from the analysis and interpretation that teachers’ TSPCK of the energy concept may be improved through PTD workshops.