Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

Differences between a Standards-Based Curriculum and Traditional Textbooks in High School Earth Science

Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

Differences between a Standards-Based Curriculum and Traditional Textbooks in High School Earth Science

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This study investigates differences between a curriculum based on the National Science Education Standards and curricula following two traditional textbooks. Earth System Science in the Community (EarthComm) and the "most used" high school earth science textbooks in the United States and Korea were analysed in terms of general features, questioning style, and level of laboratory activities by two experts using Textbook Questioning Strategies Assessment Instrument and Herron's four levels of activities. The inter-rater reliability varied from 0.91 to 0.97 for questioning style depending on each individual book and 0.99 for laboratory activities. The results showed that the standards-based curriculum EarthComm included the largest number of pages and laboratory activities with the least number of chapters and concepts among the three textbooks compared. The standards-based curriculum included by far more questions and the largest percentage of experiential questions compared to both of the most-used traditional textbooks. Non-experiential questions tend to be "open-ended" in standards-based curriculum, "direct information" in the Korean textbook, and both "open-ended" and "direct information" in the most used U.S. textbook. Higher-order questions are featured in standards-based curriculum, which call for inferences and application. These findings explicitly stress that high school earth science textbooks should be inquiry-oriented in teaching and learning. The study further discusses its meanings and implications for student learning in earth science.

INTRODUCTION

While Earth System Science in the Community (EarthComm) (Smith, et al., 2001) has emerged as an alternative to the traditional curriculum, a study of how the EarthComm program meets the visions elaborated in the National Science Education Standards has yet to be conducted. Traditionally, over 90% of all science teachers report that they rely almost entirely on textbooks for their teaching. Several studies have indicated the centrality of textbooks in teaching and learning (Yager, 1983, 1992; Shymansky and Kyle, 1992; Harms and Yager, 1981; Stake & Easley, 1978; Weiss, 1978; Helgeson, Blosser & Howe, 1977). This over-dependence creates problems in relation to stated learning goals as well as in illustrating the central ingredients of science. Overwhelming dependence on textbooks in teaching and learning has been criticized as causing the failure of many past reform efforts. More than two decades ago, Yager (1980) defined this almost complete dependence of science teaching on a single textbook as the essence of the current crisis in science education.

Many attempts have been made to diminish teachers' dependence on textbooks (Hurd, 1994; Kahl and Harms, 1981). One of the attempts is to develop a new curriculum that reflects and facilitates use of students' experiences in their own communities and focuses on topics that affect their lives. EarthComm is a new national curriculum for high school earth science in which the content of each unit is community-based. Unlike other curriculum projects of earth science, the essence of EarthComm is its focus on the visions provided in the National Science Education Standards (NSES). This study was undertaken to provide evidence concerning the congruence of the EarthComm curriculum with the visions of reform provided by the NSES. Because the program uses recommendations elaborated in the NSES, it is expected that the visions outlined in the standards will be easily found.

For the study, three textbooks were analysed for the specific purpose of comparison which mainly focused on differences between a standards-based version and traditional ones. The EarthComm curriculum claimed that the suggested visions from the NSES Standards with respect to content, teaching, assessment, and professional development were to have been evident and embedded throughout the EarthComm materials. The questioning style and level of laboratory experiments that are key elements of the NSES (NRC, 1996) were used as two indicators for determining the match between the visions elaborated in the NSES and the EarthComm materials. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.