Prevalence, function, and structure of photographs in high school biology textbooks

Authors

  • Lilian Leivas Pozzer,

    Corresponding author
    1. Applied Cognitive Science, MacLaurin Building A548, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 3100 STN CSC, Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 3N4
    • Applied Cognitive Science, MacLaurin Building A548, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 3100 STN CSC, Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 3N4.
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  • Wolff-Michael Roth

    1. Applied Cognitive Science, MacLaurin Building A548, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 3100 STN CSC, Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 3N4
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Abstract

Photographs are a major aspect of high school science textbooks, which dominate classroom approaches to teaching and learning. It is thus surprising that the function of photographs and their relation to captions and texts have not been the topic of analysis. The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence, function, and structure of photographs in high school science. Our motivating research question was, “What can students learn from textbooks when they study photographs?” To answer this and several subordinate questions, we selected and analyzed four Brazilian biology textbooks. We focus on the use of photographs and the relation among them, various types of texts, and the subject matter presented. Our analysis reveals that the structural elements of text, caption, and photographs and the relations among them differ across the textbooks and at times even within the same book. This, of course, will influence readers' interpretations of the photographs changing their role in the text. The results of our study have implications for textbook authors and textbook readers. We suggest that future studies may focus on students' and teachers' interpretation of photographs in real time. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 40: 1089–1114, 2003

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