5 Questions to Guide the Purchase of Textbooks

May 13, 2019 by

Teachers of all grades turn to textbooks as a reliable source of information that has been fact-checked and critically reviewed by panels of educators and field experts. Even with these review processes in place, however, there are significant differences in the content, ideologies, and goals of published textbooks. Administrators hoping to purchase updated science manuals for students must consider several factors during the decision process.

1. How Well Does Content Align With School Goals And Learning Objectives?

The goals for any particular course as described as aspects of behavior that put knowledge and/or skills to use. Learning objectives describe the specific and separate bits of knowledge that educators want students to learn within a brief and specific timeframe. Bentham Science, a large publisher with international connections and membership with COPE, a standard-establishing organization, is a leader in this area, drawing from ongoing research and undergoing peer-review and multi-faceted approval processes to present a variety of materials for educators to consider.

Many schools in the United States incorporate national or state-level curriculum goals in their own learning outcome objectives. However, private schools, charter schools, and homeschools may have additional goals. Science textbooks could present accepted facts with a liberal or conservative bent that aligns with one school better than another school.

2. Does The Textbook Invite The Intended Student To Engage In Learning?

Educators may judge a sample text based on whether the content is interesting or has good graphics. The professional may review the content to be sure it is current and accurate. Many public high school students have come across “facts” that have since been reevaluated in outdated science books, prompting school administrators to invest in new materials. Many textbook publishers, such as Bentham Science publishing, offer access to websites, social media, and interactive examples of their work.

3. Is The Curriculum Relevant To The Intended Students?

The approach to this factor consists of considerations such as the age of the student, the intended timeframe to cover the subject matter, and the materials that come with a set of textbooks. An elementary school administrator may find a textbook with an appropriate match to the school’s learning objectives, but also note that the content was written for older students. The teacher of a class requiring audio text supplements may pass over a curriculum that doesn’t include those supplements. Institute administrators may prefer one set of textbooks over another because of technology integration.

4. How Are Evaluation Tools Used Throughout The Books?

Some textbook authors put questions at the end of chapters, and some publishers include worksheets and tests as supplementary materials. Administrators generally review the content of quizzes, tests, worksheets, and labs as well as the material within the textbooks, considering the adequacy of test questions and the depth of learning measured by evaluations.

5. How Well Does The Content Align With Practical Applications?

Science texts and materials for other subjects must support and encourage hands-on exploration, lab work, online activities, and physical activities. Some textbooks, for example, offer suggestions about projects students could work through on their own or may link to online tests, exercises, or additional information. In today’s modern environment, this link with technology can truly expand the potential for learning. Print materials face new challenges as they compete with digital media, textbook publishers must rise to the challenge with engaging material, visuals, and other content that are hard to share in an online format. This new level of expectation and the potential for connecting to online content leads to improved content from some publishers.

Educators review lesson materials from many perspectives, so administrators must carefully consider their selections of textbooks. Using established learning objectives, the potential for student engagement, curriculum relevance, evaluation techniques, and alignment with practical applications, administrators and educators can determine the materials that are best suited to their learning environment.

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