Does the material alert teachers to commonly held student ideas (both troublesome and helpful) such as those described in Benchmarks Chapter 15: The Research Base?
Explanation. Students usually have ideas about how the world works even before instruction. Some ideas are intuitions that are in basic agreement with scientists' views, whereas others (often labeled as misconceptions) are in disagreement or conflict with currently accepted scientific theories. Some of the students' misconceptions work fairly well in familiar contexts and are highly resistant to change.
Researchers have identified ideas that students have about how the world works in several content areas. The issue here is whether the material informs teachers about students' commonly held ideas in the topic areas the material addresses. This information can help teachers (a) better understand their own students' ideas, (b) decide which ideas to build on and what changes to promote, or (c) better understand the rationale and purpose behind strategies employed in a material (if the material is already designed in ways that build on or attempt to change students' commonly held ideas).
Responding to this criterion involves examining (a) whether there is research on commonly held student ideas in the topic area(s) that the material addresses, (b) whether the material alerts teachers to such ideas and accurately represents research findings, and (c) whether the material explains commonly held ideas well enough for teachers to diagnose similar difficulties in their own students. Summaries of research on students' ideas in science (such as those included in Benchmarks Chapter 15: The Research Base or Making Sense of Secondary Science: Research Into Children's Ideas by Rosalind Driver, Ann Squires, and Valerie Wood-Robinson) will be helpful to reviewers who will want to know what ideas students typically have about the topics that the curriculum material they are examining addresses. If there is no research on student ideas in the topic area(s) that the material addresses, the material is not held accountable for this criterion.
For topics that served as the basis for the middle grades science and high school biology textbook evaluations, reviewers of middle grades science and high school biology textbooks were given lists of commonly held student ideas that were compiled from research (e.g., on the topics kinetic molecular theory, matter and energy transformations, natural selection). Reviewers were informed about topics for which research is minimal (e.g., processes that shape the Earth) or lacking (e.g., molecular basis of heredity).