In Pursuit of Teachers' Views on the Use of Textbooks in Their Classroom Practice

By Mahadi, Mar Aswandi; Shahrill, Masitah | International Journal of Education, April 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

In Pursuit of Teachers' Views on the Use of Textbooks in Their Classroom Practice


Mahadi, Mar Aswandi, Shahrill, Masitah, International Journal of Education


Abstract

The main purpose of this study was to investigate the views of the teachers on the use of primary history textbooks in their history classroom lessons in Brunei Darussalam, and whether their views were aligned with the aims and objectives of history education at the primary levels. Interviews with five teachers were conducted and the interview data were categorised into five broad conceptual themes related to the use of textbooks; priorities of the use in the classroom, perceptions in the use for lesson preparation, interpretations of the history curriculum in the classroom, relationship with the use and aligning it with the aims and objectives of the curriculum, and finally, the views about textbook content. The findings revealed that there exists an apparent lack of knowledge of the sample interviewed in interpreting the aims and objectives of the history curriculum in their classroom practice. There may be implications on the quality of students' learning of history at the primary level if teachers do not have sufficient understanding on the needs of the curriculum.

Keywords: history; textbooks; primary; teachers; interviews

1. Introduction

The textbook is one of the important resources in the process of teaching and learning. According to Hummel (1988), the textbook is an instrument perfectly adaptable to every individual's own rhythm. With the aid of the textbooks, the pupil recapitulates, assimilates and further internalizes what was learnt in class. The textbook can also provoke questions and induce a pupil or pupils to supplement the information it contains. Moreover a good textbook encourages the pupils to think and stimulates critical reflection.

According to Santhiram (1997), the socialization of pupils to the aims and goals of education in a country takes place through curriculum. The curriculum provides the focus for teaching and learning activities and thereby occupies a central role in the formation of fundamental attitudes and images that provide the basic core of values. The textbook assumes a key role because it is a dominant form of curriculum material. It is the key classroom teaching aid in schools. A survey in the United States showed that 75% of the time elementary and secondary school pupils are in the classroom, they are using the textbook. The figure rises to 90% for homework (Harber, 1989).

Altbach et al. (1985) stated that the power and influence of the textbook lies within the printed words and that it is the key element in the educational process. Textbooks are central to schooling levels. The textbook is the tool for instruction and its potentials, limitations and actual use are conditioned by features of the total system. With that, textbooks without doubt carry intrinsic values and the historical mirror on which the nation wishes to see it reflected. The selection and legitimizations of content in the textbook are seen as vital to national needs.

However, dramatic changes is happening in technology where electronic media are a common place and comfortable part in academic life and raise the question of how textbook fit into students' cultural and learning environment. Bierman et al. (2006) argued that textbooks are not dead but their roles and appearance are changing fast. They predicted that the textbook's function would be as a guide, interweaving and coordinating a variety different learning exercise and organizing hub of an integrated learning environment where the students experience is the key. Bierman and colleagues (2006) added that "the goal is to retain the core stability and authority that make the textbook so valuable while at the same time providing the flexibility, timeliness, and inquiry-focused approach that the web and other electronic resource provide" (p. 306). And this was evident in a study by de Oliveira and colleagues (2014) where even with the latest advancements in teaching resources, such as e-textbooks, are introduced teachers still need to scaffold the entirety of the classroom learning effectively to their students. …

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