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Examining the Nature of Practical Work in School Science Textbooks: Coverage of the Diversity of Scientific Methods

Abstract

Practical work is a distinctive feature of school science and has close associations with scientific experiment and scientific methods as well. In this study, the nature of practical work was examined in the view of the diversity of scientific methods. Based on an analytical framework derived from Brandon’s matrix consisting of four categories of scientific methods, this study was purported to understand how the diversity of scientific methods is represented in practical work in science textbooks. The targets of analysis were various kinds of practical work compiled in nine textbooks of biology, chemistry, and physics used in the stage of junior high school (Grades 7–9) in China. A major finding is that the four categories of scientific methods are distributed discrepantly within each of the three subject-based science textbooks. Another important finding is that non-manipulative parameter measurement (NPM) is the predominant scientific method, whether in physics, chemistry, or biology textbooks. Except for this shared feature, the percentages of the other three are varied across the three science subjects. The results of this study have provided implications for the design of practical work in science textbooks. It is suggested that further studies can be conducted to display the change of the nature of practical work over a period of time and compare the nature of practical work in science textbooks used in different regions and countries in the view of the diversity of scientific methods.

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Correspondence to Bing Wei.

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Wei, B., Jiang, Z. & Gai, L. Examining the Nature of Practical Work in School Science Textbooks: Coverage of the Diversity of Scientific Methods. Sci & Educ (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11191-021-00294-z

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