2061 Connections
An electronic newsletter for the science education community

March 2010

Research on Textbook Coherence Published in JRST

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. In a new article published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Project 2061 reports on the development of a method for analyzing the coherence of biology textbooks that can serve those who evaluate, design, and use curriculum materials.

Authors Jo Ellen Roseman, Luli Stern, and Mary Koppal describe how trained reviewers—following a set of guidelines defining the ideas to be learned and connections among those ideas drawn from relevant maps published in Project 2061’s Atlas of Science Literacy—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.

Although it requires a painstaking and time-consuming effort, Project 2061’s approach can be a cost-effective first step towards identifying materials that are ready for large-scale and more expensive empirical testing. The authors argue that if science educators, policy makers, and the public are serious about having students actually understand a set of important science ideas (rather than simply memorizing isolated facts that will soon be forgotten), then improving textbook coherence needs to be taken seriously.

Read the Roseman, Stern, & Koppal article. [PDF, 2006KB]

Copyright (2009) Wiley. Used with permission from Jo Ellen Roseman, Luli Stern, & Mary Koppal. “A method for analyzing the coherence of high school biology textbooks,” Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Browse Project 2061’s High School Biology Textbook Evaluations.

# # #

For more information about Project 2061’s research on curriculum materials, please contact:

Director: Dr. Jo Ellen Roseman, (202) 326-6752
Communications Director: Mary Koppal, (202) 326-6643


Roseman, J. E., Stern, L., & Koppal, M. (2010). A method for analyzing the coherence of high school biology textbooks. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(1), 47–70.

[Subscribe] [Archive]