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Middle Grades Science Textbooks: A Benchmarks-Based Evaluation

BSCS Middle School Science & Technology: Diversity and Limits, Level B. 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 physical science component.

The physical science idea set focuses on the particulate nature of matter and the kinetic molecular theory. In BSCS Middle School Science & Technology, the material relating to these key ideas is to be found in Diversity and Limits (level B), for grade seven, in which Unit 2: Why Are Things Different? addresses the set of key ideas. This unit seems to have two learning objectives, namely, that students are to understand both the particle theory of matter and the use of scientific models. In fact, as the Teacher's Edition states, the unit uses "the particle theory of matter as a vehicle for students to study the development and use of scientific models" (p. 163at). In this unit, students investigate different properties of materials, learn how ancient Chinese and Greek philosophers explained why things are different, learn about the current scientific model that scientists use to account for why things are different, and use the model to account for a variety of physical phenomena. At the same time, they are expected to develop an understanding that a scientific model explicates many, if not all, observations, and that models facilitate making predictions. In addition, they explore how scientific the particle theory is, and develop their own models.

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 physical 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.