Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Science Education

Major Professor

Dana L. Zeidler, Ph.D.

Keywords

8th and 9th grade science, Science content standards, Transforming science education, Science curriculum, Science textbook publishers

Abstract

This study examined science textbooks over time to better understand the science content expectations that the U.S. educational system deems appropriate for 8th and 9th grade science students. The study attempted to answer the questions: 1) What specific science content has been presented via the textbook from 1952 to 2008? 2) Within which areas and in what way does the science content change? 3) Are new scientific findings reflected in 8th and 9th grade U.S. general science textbooks? Twenty-six themes were identified which reflect five areas in science: Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science, Biology, and Process of Science. Trends in science content in U.S. 8th and 9th grade general science textbooks, as revealed by this data sample, indicated no statistically significant change in depth of coverage in Physics and Process of Science over the past 60 years, no significant change in depth of coverage in Earth Science and Biology in the last 40 years, and no significant change in coverage in Chemistry over the last 30 years. Additionally, a total of sixteen new discoveries were found in the textbook sample. For classroom teachers this information may alert them to the necessity of going beyond the textbook in preparing students for life in a global society. In educational practice, this research supports and reinforces the need for inquiry learning and socioscientific curricula. It may also influence educators to challenge assumptions regarding the value and selection of the traditional classic science content.

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