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Middle and High School Science Textbooks
A Standards-Based Evaluation

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Does the material routinely include suggestions for having each student express, clarify, justify, and represent his or her ideas? Are suggestions made for when and how students will get feedback from peers and the teacher?

Explanation. It is important to provide opportunities for students to make their thinking overt to themselves, the teacher, and other students. In this way their thinking and reasoning can be examined, questioned, and shaped. By stating (clarifying, justifying, and representing) their ideas in writing, drawing, or speech, students become more aware of what they think. This may stimulate them to make explicit connections between their ideas and the ideas presented by the text or the teacher, and/or to question their ideas (if relevant). Exchange of ideas in small groups or a large group discussion may make students aware of the range of ideas that exist and may provoke students to reconsider their own ideas in light of others. Feedback from the teacher or other peers is necessary to help students understand their mistakes and improve the quality of their descriptions, explanations, or designs.

Responding to the first part of the criterion involves examining whether the material encourages teachers to prompt students to express their ideas either in group discussion or in writing (e.g., "Have students discuss the results, citing evidence to support their ideas. Encourage debate"), and/or encourages students directly to express, clarify, justify, and represent their ideas by providing appropriate instructions in the students' books and appropriately designed work sheets (e.g., "How did you decide on the answer you chose? Give reasons for your answer. Why do you think that. . .?," "Make a diagram to represent the experiment Pasteur conducted"). It also involves examining whether the opportunities that the material provides for students to express ideas are such that each student will be encouraged to express his or her ideas. This can be done, for example, by providing opportunities for students to express ideas in pair discussions, in writing, or through role-playing.

Responding to the second part of the criterion includes examining whether the material includes specific suggestions to help the teacher provide explicit feedback, includes text that directly provides students with feedback on the adequacy of their ideas, or provides teachers with strategies they can use to ensure that each student in the class receives feedback.

Providing suggestions for feedback in the form of information about correctness of responses does not fully address this criterion. The material should also include suggestions for teachers on how to diagnose student errors, explanations about how these errors may be corrected, and recommendations for how students' ideas may be further developed. This would help teachers provide more useful feedback to students. Text that poses a question and then immediately provides the scientifically correct answer (instead of making it explicit that students are expected to respond with their own ideas first, and then compare their ideas to those in the text), does not count as evidence for having students express their ideas or for providing feedback.

The difference between this criterion and "Assisting teacher in identifying own students' ideas" (see Category II) is that here the material provides opportunities for students to express ideas during and immediately after new knowledge is conveyed. "Assisting teacher in identifying own students' ideas" addresses the identification of student ideas before the scientific ideas are introduced.

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