10. Science Textbook – Methodology of Teaching Science

10

Science Textbook

CHAPTER OUTLINE
LEARNING OBJECTIVES

After reading this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Appreciate the importance of a science textbook

  • Understand the need of a science textbook

  • Describe the characteristic features of a science textbook

  • Evaluate a science textbook prior to classroom teaching

  • Select the most appropriate science textbook and recommend it to the class

INTRODUCTION

In an education system, a textbook is one of the important tools for curricular transaction. Textbooks play a pivotal role in the whole scheme of education. Science is a subject in which the knowledge is widening day by day, therefore, in order to keep in touch with the latest trends in it and to keep the knowledge updated, books are essential. In our country, at many places, a textbook is the only accessible and affordable resource material. Thus, textbooks are considered to be one of the primary instruments of science education.

THE NEED OF THE SCIENCE TEXTBOOK

Since science plays a very crucial role in the day to day life of an individual, it is, therefore, essential that students should have a sound foundation in the subject. This will enable the students to have a clear understanding of the various phenomena occurring in nature. Thus, it becomes very essential that a science textbook covers all the important aspects of nature and conveys the information in a very simple manner so that even an average student can comprehend the content. Needs of having a science textbook can be listed as below:

  • Textbooks supply facts and develop the appreciation and understanding of concepts and principles.
  • A textbook preserves and stores knowledge and wisdom.
  • Textbooks guide the students in learning.
  • Textbooks reflect and establish standards.
  • Textbooks help to realize the basic curricular objective of different stages.
  • Textbooks provide an opportunity to the students to reflect and evaluate.
  • Textbooks generate educational interaction between a teacher and a student.
FEATURES OF A GOOD TEXTBOOK OF SCIENCE

Features of a good textbook of science can be classified into external features and internal features. (Figure 10.1)

 

 

Figure 10.1 Features of a Science Textbook

I. External Features

The external features of a textbook cover those aspects which make the appearance attractive but are not concerned with the subject matter e.g. paper, printing, outer look, etc.

  1. Cover page: The cover page of the book should be attractive and colourful. It helps in leaving an impact on the minds of the reader. Cover page may bear visual images from all three branches of science. It can also carry the necessary information like the name of the book, class, author, publisher, etc.
  2. Size: The size of the book should be such that the book is easy to carry and better to handle. An ideal size could be 26 cm x 20 cm.
  3. Font size: The font size for headings and subject matter should be chosen keeping in mind the age level of students. For the young children, bigger font size is better, whereas, smaller font size is more appropriate for the grown up children. Noteworthy words, phrases or sentences should be highlighted either with italics or in a bold font.
  4. Spacing: Appropriate spacing between the words, sentences and paragraphs should be given. There should be enough space for making diagrams, flow charts and illustrations wherever needed to support the subject matter. Margins are also a must on all the four sides of a page, i.e., upper, lower, right and left.
  5. Printing: Printing of the text should be clear and appealing to the reader. Mistakes should be avoided as much as possible. Heading should be avoided as much as possible.
  6. Colours: Heading and sub-headings can be printed in different colours to distinguish them from the content.
  7. Quality of the paper: The paper used for printing is decided keeping in mind the age level of students as well as the expected cost price. Very expensive books do not gain popularity with students. Glossy paper is more suitable for the books meant for lower classes, as these books are not very thick. Glossy paper makes book heavy. For all the books, whichever paper is chosen, it should be of fine quality, smooth to touch and white in appearance. Paper quality of the cover page should be thick and durable.

II. Internal Features

The internal features of a science textbook describe the content organization, presentation, illustration, questions, reference, etc.

  1. Contents: The content of the book should be based on the syllabus of that class. Also, the content helps the students to have a firm control in the subject matter in such a manner that it would create students’ interest towards the subject. The contents of the book should be arranged in a very relevant and systematic manner and in a proper sequence. The maxims of teaching like proceeding from simple to complex and from known to unknown should be kept in mind while organizing the subject matter. Thus, the easier chapters should come first and the difficult chapters should follow them.
  2. Presentation: All the chapters should be well presented with colourful and attractive diagrams for clear understanding of the subject matter. Examples should be used for introducing a new concept of science. Also, while introducing the chapters, the maxims of proceeding from direct to indirect and from concrete to abstract should be kept in mind. Each chapter can be introduced by quoting examples and then relating it to the chapter in an effective manner. After introduction, various sub-topics can be presented in a systematic manner such that a topic is directly related to the one preceeding it. Simple and lucid language should be used in writing the content. The book should have proper emphasis on ‘learning by doing’. Every chapter should have a number of activities to establish facts and concepts in the minds of the learners. Activities can be incorporated in the sub-topics of the chapter for presentation and at the end of the chapter for reinforcement. Science is learnt best when taught through examples, experiences and activities and so, these should be included in the book for all the topics.
  3. Illustrations: Importance of illustrations can be stated in a Chinese proverb ‘one picture is worth a thousand words’. Illustrations may be in the form of pictures, figures, flow charts, diagrams, graphs, etc. These illustrations enable the students to visualize things and thus, have a clear understanding of the topic. Diagrams should be clearly drawn and well labeled. Figures and graphs should be explained in the context of the written material. Size of the illustrations should be in proportion to the size of the page and the written content. Real photographs can be used to depict the natural events, e.g., earthquake, floods, tsunami, etc. Pictures and diagrams of abstract and microscopic things like cell, bacteria, atom, etc. should be very precise and clear to ensure the clarity of the concept.
  4. Questions: Exercises are a part of the practice. They test the theoretical as well as the practical knowledge of students. Further, exercises increase the students’ hold on the topic and make the learning firm and long lasting. Each chapter in the science book should have a variety of questions, e.g., tick the correct answer, fill in the blanks, true or false, match the following, find the odd one out, distinguish the following, give reasons, answer the following, draw the diagram, solve the numerical, etc. Questions in the exercise should cover the whole chapter and should include simple as well as difficult questions. Some thought-provoking questions should be given separately in the chapter especially for the bright students.
  5. Preface, Index, Glossary: The book should have a suitable preface as it describes the book, the class for which it is written, the author and the objectives of the book. There should be an index of contents mentioning the chapters and their details along with the page numbers. There should be a separate list of tables or graphs, if they are included in the book. Each chapter should have a glossary of important terms and their meanings at the end of the chapter. Then at the end of the book, all the terms should be mentioned again under glossary. It is very useful as it helps the students to recall all the important terms whenever desired.
EVALUATION OF A SCIENCE TEXTBOOK

Generally, at the school level, for lower classes, books are prescribed by the schools and children don't do the reference work on their own. For higher classes, along with prescribed books, reference books are recommended by the science teacher. Before recommending, the teacher can objectively analyse and evaluate the book. A very comprehensive textbook evaluation rating scale is being given here:

Textbook Evaluation by Rating Scale

Details of the Publication

  1. Title of the book
  2. Author/authors
  3. Publisher
  4. Number of pages
  5. Price of the book

 

A textbook must realize the basic curricular objectives of different stages. Due to the examination system, rote learning has become a major problem. Textbooks can provide solution to this by including meaningful questions and by following application and problem-solving approach. Textbooks should link the textual material to the daily life experiences and this would reinforce the learning in students.

SUMMARY
  1. A textbook is one of the most important tools for curricular transaction.
  2. Textbooks are needed because they:
    • Give facts and guide students in learning
    • Preserve and store knowledge
    • Establish standards
    • Generate educational interaction between teacher and students
  3. Features of a good textbook of science can be classified into two:
    • External features
    • Internal features
  4. The external features include:
    • Cover page
    • Size
    • Font
    • Spacing
    • Printing
    • Colours
    • Paper quality
  5. The internal features include:
    • Content
    • Presentation
    • Illustrations
    • Questions
    • Preface, index, glossary, etc.
  6. A science teacher must evaluate the textbook before recommending it to the students.
  7. Evaluation of a textbook can be done on a rating scale.
QUESTIONS
  1. Why is a science textbook an essential resource for a science teacher?
  2. List down the various characteristic features of a science textbook.
  3. What should be the qualities of an ideal science textbook?
  4. How will you evaluate a science textbook?
  5. Critically analyze a textbook of science of any class and suggest the improvements.