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Middle Grades Science Textbooks: A Benchmarks-Based Evaluation

BSCS Middle School Science & Technology: Patterns of Change, Level A. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1999
Earth Science Life Science Physical Science

About this Evaluation Report
Content Analysis
Instructional Analysis

The BSCS Middle School Science & Technology series is a science program that distributes physical, Earth, and life science topics across three middle grades textbooks arranged by level (grade) and organized in theme-based units.

The program has been evaluated in terms of how well its content matches each of three topic-specific sets of key science ideas, and how well it provides effective instructional material in terms of a set of universal criteria for the teaching of science ideas. This report on BSCS Middle School Science & Technology assesses the program’s Earth science component.

The Earth science idea set focuses on the processes that change the surface of the Earth. In the BSCS Middle School Science & Technology series, the ideas are addressed in Patterns of Change, level A, for grade six—specifically, in Unit 2: Explanations for the Patterns of Change on the Earth and Beyond. This unit seems to have two learning objectives, namely, that students are to understand both the ideas about volcanoes and earthquakes and those about the nature of scientific explanations. In fact, this unit uses the context of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to emphasize the nature of scientific explanations (p. 157at). Within Unit 2, two chapters—together with the unit introduction—account for the program’s coverage of Earth science. Chapter 9: Volcanoes, Earthquakes, and Explanations focuses on explanations for earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The core of the chapter consists of a scripted play that covers some historical ideas on the causes of earthquakes. The students are to present the play and then compare maps of the ocean floor, volcanoes, earthquakes, and the ages of rocks. Chapter 10: Connecting the Evidence presents ideas associated with plate tectonics.

The other two sections of this report—the Content Analysis and the Instructional Analysis—summarize the results of the evaluation of BSCS Middle School Science & Technology’s Earth science content and instructional efficacy.

In both sections, within-the-text page references to the evaluated materials have been clarified by the use of letter suffixes: “s” denotes the student text (as in “p. 16s”), and “t” denotes the Teacher’s Edition (as in “p. 16t”). In addition, note that, in the materials themselves, the letter suffixes “a,” “b,” “c,” etc. are used to designate multiple-part pages (as in “p. 191a,” “p. 191b,” “p. 191c,” etc.).

The reference works cited in this report are given as complete citations in the References list, along with those cited in other reports in this document. The References list can be accessed by clicking on the link at the beginning of each content and instructional analysis. To view a specific research reference while reading the content and instructional analyses, simply click on the in-text citation.

The key science ideas and the instructional analysis categories are presented and discussed under Project 2061 Analysis Procedure on the main menu.