Textbook B dissemination of knowledge and inspiration to study?
Notion of knowledge and users= experiences concerning Kemian maailma 1, an upper secondary level Chemistry textbook.

University of Turku, Finland

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The enhanced requirements of the information society, the competitive ability based on high levels of competence, and recruitment of highly educated manpower have made a great challenge to the increasing level of knowledge in mathematics and science. The concern for future specialists naturally has an impact on Chemistry education at school level. As a central disseminator of knowledge, the textbook has maintained its position in spite of the emergence of electrical data transmission and access to digital educational resources. Therefore, study of textbooks is an essential element of inquiry into teaching and learning.

The goal of the present study is to define the notion of knowledge that is manifest in Kemian maailma 1, (the first one in a series of upper secondary/senior high school level Chemistry textbooks, and the object of study of the present research), and to clarify the extent to which the users of the textbook agree it meets the curricular requirements of the first Chemistry course. The national objectives concern the contents of the knowledge, societal significance, emphasis on experimental Chemistry, and inspiration for further study. Various approaches are used to clarify the notion of knowledge manifest in the textbook: degree of coherence and dynamism of the knowledge presented is assessed, a learning strategy classification of the central concepts is used, and a classification of activities according to task-difficulty is applied in the study. The textbook users= experiences and attainment of curricular objectives are analyzed by means of teacher diaries (N=2), analysis of teaching experiments and by means of a questionnaire administered to both the teachers (N=14) and the students (N=278). The teachers= and students= assessments of task difficulty are compared with the classifications of concepts and tasks.

The analysis shows that the knowledge structure of the textbook is coherent but static. Its central concepts form a coherent whole which is achieved by integrating a number of various strategies and processing options available in accessing the tasks. The majority (86%) of the textbook tasks (N=201) fell into higher-order classes in which the knowledge structure given in the textbook presumed application or making inferences. Half of the textbook activities were found to carry societal significance, and a quarter of the activities were experimental. However, the textbook was not viewed as guidance towards experimental Chemistry, although the experimental character of the tasks was acknowledged. The contents of the textbook were considered fairly comprehensive but very up-to-date. The teachers= and students= task assessments were scattered, but the students= textbook assessments were clearly related to study motivation. It is worth noting, however, that a relatively great number of non-motivated students assessed difficult tasks as better than easy ones. In addition, it is of value for future textbook writers to keep in mind that for every five students, the textbook acts as an important inspiration for further study.

Key words: notion of knowledge, notion of learning, upper secondary / (senior) high school / Chemistry, textbook analysis

Full reference for the thesis

Oppikirja - tiedon välittäjä ja opintojen innoittaja? Lukion kemian oppikirjan - Kemian maailma 1 - tiedonkäsitys ja käyttökokemukset (2000), Turun yliopiston julkaisuja C 164: Turun yliopisto
in english:

Textbook - dissemination of knwledge and inspiration to study? Notion of knwledge and users' experiences concerning Kemian maailma 1, an upper secondary level Chemistry textbook. Annales Universitatis Turkuensis, C 164, ISSN 0082-6996, ISBN 951-29-1836-6. Dissertation 179 p.

Aija Ahtineva
Assistentinkatu 5
Department of Teacher Education
FIN-20014 University of Turku
phone +358-2-3335723
fax +358-2-3338800
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