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Tuesday, September 28, 1999 Published at 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK


'Science textbooks not good enough'

The study says science textbooks are not doing their job

Science textbooks widely used by schools in the US have been judged to be unsatisfactory.

Not one textbook commonly used by middle schools was rated satisfactory in a study carried out by an education reform project.

It found that most textbooks covered too many topics and did not develop any of them well.

It said they also included many classroom activities which were either irrelevant to learning key science ideas, or did not help students relate what they were doing to the ideas.

The study was carried out by Project 2061, the long-term science, mathematics and technology education reform initiative of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

'Credit to teachers'

It examined how well textbooks for the middle grades can help students learn key ideas, taken from the AAAS's benchmarks for science literacy, and the National Research Council's national science education standards.

[ image: The study found science textbooks covered too many topics]
The study found science textbooks covered too many topics
Dr George Nelson, Director of Project 2061, said: "Our students are lugging home heavy texts full of disconnected facts that neither educate nor motivate them.

"It's a credit to science teachers that their students are learning anything at all."

He said that no matter how "scientifically accurate" a textbook was, "if it doesn't provide teachers and students with the right kinds of help in understanding and applying important concepts, then it's not doing its job."

Each textbook was evaluated by two teams of middle school teachers, curriculum specialists and professors of science education.

Dr Nelson said: "This study confirms our worst fears about the materials used to educate our children in the critical middle grades.

"Because textbooks are the backbone of classroom instruction, we must demand improvement so that our students can acquire the knowledge and skills they will need to more advanced learning in high school, college, and the workplace."

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