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ERIC Number: EJ890635
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jun
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 19
ISSN: ISSN-2077-2327
Science Textbooks in the Context of Political Reform in South Africa: Implications for Access to Science
Green, Whitfield; Naidoo, Devika
Science Education International, v19 n2 p235-250 Jun 2008
The post-apartheid National Physical Science Curriculum was implemented for the first time in South Africa in grade 10 during 2006. A variety of new textbooks for grade 10 have been published. This study was a comparative analysis of three popular textbooks, one prepared to support the previous curriculum, and two prepared for the new curriculum. The study employed an eclectic theoretical approach and a mixed mode (qualitative and quantitative) methodology. The comparative analysis of the three textbooks showed that the old textbook presented pure, decontextualised physical science knowledge; presented conventional academic "hard" science knowledge as strongly separated from the real world; and assumed that English was the first language of students. It emphasized factual and conceptual knowledge that students must remember and understand. It was underpinned by an objectivist epistemology and a rationalist philosophy of knowledge. One of the new textbooks was similar to the old. The other new textbook was inclusive, and presented science knowledge using a popular format and an interactive style. In addition to academic science knowledge, utilitarian knowledge was also presented. There was also an emphasis on factual and conceptual knowledge that students must remember and understand. The boundaries between science and the real world were weakened, and an obvious attempt to incorporate indigenous knowledge in the textbook was made. The new textbook seemed to be less mono-cultural, white, Eurocentric, and male-centered. Various language tools mediated English for second-language learners. In addition, it situated science knowledge in social,historical, and cultural experiences that students could identify with. Meta-cognitive reflection on the acquisition of academic and social competencies was consistently expected and there was also an expectation for higher cognitive processes, such as, analysis and evaluation. The textbook was underpinned by a social-constructivist epistemology and a humanistic philosophy of knowledge. The findings of this study support the conclusion that the new textbooks differ in terms of their potential to improve access to science for groups which have historically been marginalized. (Contains 2 figures, 8 tables and 2 footnotes.)
International Council of Associations for Science Education. Dokuz Eylul University Faculty of Education, Buca, Izmir 35150, Turkey. Tel: +90-532-4267927; Fax: +90-232-4204895; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Grade 10
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: South Africa