Go to Project 2061's Web site (requires Internet connection). Project 2061
Middle and High School Science Textbooks
A Standards-Based Evaluation

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Does the material introduce technical terms only in conjunction with experience with the idea or process and only as needed to facilitate thinking and promote effective communication?

Explanation. Terms are important to scientific communication. For students to be able to communicate efficiently about phenomena, some technical terms are helpful. However, concentrating on vocabulary rather than on understanding carries the risk of leading both students and teachers to mistake fluency with terms for understanding. It also mistakenly portrays science as learning "big words" rather than as asking and answering questions about the world. Understanding the key ideas, rather than rote learning of vocabulary, should be the main purpose of science teaching; and hence, the number of terms used should be limited to those that are essential for communicating about experiences.

Responding to this criterion involves examining whether the material (a) introduces technical vocabulary mainly in conjunction with experiences and (b) limits the use of technical terms to those needed for communication about those experiences.

Indicators of meeting the criterion

  1. The material links technical terms to relevant experiences that develop the idea as the term is used (rather than just having students learn definitions of terms).
  2. The material restricts the use of technical terms to those needed to communicate intelligibly about key ideas.

Rating Scheme
Excellent: The material meets both indicators.
Satisfactory: The material fully meets one indicator and partially meets the other.
Poor: The material marginally meets both indicators at best.

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