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Keywords:

  • biology;
  • physical science;
  • curriculum development;
  • standards;
  • textbooks;
  • science education;
  • science literacy;
  • secondary;
  • critical theory;
  • experimental

Abstract

Because textbooks have the potential to be powerful catalysts for improving science teaching and learning, having reliable methods for analyzing important textbook features, such as their coherence, is essential. This study reports on the development of a method in which trained reviewers, following a set of guidelines defining the ideas to be learned and connections among those ideas drawn from relevant maps published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the Atlas of Science Literacy (2001), were able to analyze the degree to which four widely used high school biology textbooks provided students and teachers with a coherent account of the important topic of matter and energy transformations in living systems. The study method was found to produce consistent results across reviewers and textbooks and can serve those who evaluate, design, and use science curriculum materials. This work represents an important first step in meeting the need for methods to measure, characterize, and, ultimately, to improve textbook coherence. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 47: 47–70, 2010