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Middle Grades Science Textbooks: A Benchmarks-Based Evaluation

Prentice Hall Exploring Earth Science, Exploring Life Science, and Exploring Physical Science. Prentice Hall School, 1997
Earth Science Life Science Physical Science

About this Evaluation Report
Content Analysis
Instructional Analysis

Prentice Hall Exploring Life Science is one of three components of a science program that distributes physical, Earth, and life science topics across the middle grades.

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 the Prentice Hall program assesses the program’s life science component.

The life science idea set focuses on the transformations of matter and energy in living systems, including organisms and ecosystems. In Exploring Life Science, the materials relating to these key ideas are to be found in nine chapters. Chapter 2: The Nature of Life sets forth theories about how life formed on Earth, describes the physical characteristics and needs of living things, distinguishes between consumers and producers, and defines photosynthesis, metabolism, and respiration. Chapter 3: Cells, Tissues, and Organ Systems explains the different parts and functions of cells, including mitochondria and chloroplasts, metabolism, and respiration. Chapter 4: Classification of Living Things briefly describes the five kingdoms and how monerans get their food. Chapter 5: Viruses and Monerans recounts how different bacteria get their energy and contribute to the cycling of matter in nature. Chapter 7: Fungi explains how fungi function as decomposers, and Chapter 8: Plants Without Seeds describes how green algae make their food from carbon dioxide and water. Chapter 9: Plants With Seeds describes the parts of plants, explains how some roots store food, and then develops the idea of photosynthesis. Chapter 26: Interactions Among Living Things discusses producers, consumers, and decomposers, and then introduces the concepts of food chains, food webs, and energy pyramids. Lastly, in Chapter 27: Cycles in Nature, the oxygen and carbon dioxide cycles and the nitrogen cycle are described.

The other two sections of this report—the Content Analysis and the Instructional Analysis—summarize the results of the evaluation of Exploring Life Science’s 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. 18s”), and “t” denotes the Teacher’s Edition (as in “p. 18t”). Where “a” appears as part of a page reference (as in “p. 18a”), it denotes a page number as given in the evaluated materials.

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.