Research in Science Education

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 481–509 | Cite as

Evaluating Junior Secondary Science Textbook Usage in Australian Schools



A large body of research has drawn attention to the importance of providing engaging learning experiences in junior secondary science classes, in an attempt to attract more students into post-compulsory science courses. The reality of time and resource constraints, and the high proportion of non-specialist science teachers teaching science, has resulted in an overreliance on more transmissive pedagogical tools, such as textbooks. This study sought to evaluate the usage of junior secondary science textbooks in Australian schools. Data were collected via surveys from 486 schools teaching junior secondary (years 7–10), representing all Australian states and territories. Results indicated that most Australian schools use a science textbook in the junior secondary years, and textbooks are used in the majority of science lessons. The most highly cited reason influencing choice of textbook was layout/colour/illustrations, and electronic technologies were found to be the dominant curricula material utilised, in addition to textbooks, in junior secondary science classes. Interestingly, the majority of respondents expressed high levels of satisfaction with their textbooks, although many were keen to stress the subsidiary role of textbooks in the classroom, emphasising the textbook was ‘one’ component of their teaching repertoire. Importantly, respondents were also keen to stress the benefits of textbooks in supporting substitute teachers, beginning teachers, and non-specialist science teachers; in addition to facilitating continuity of programming and staff support in schools with high staff turnover. Implications from this study highlight the need for high quality textbooks to support teaching and learning in Australian junior secondary science classes.


Science textbooks Junior secondary science Curricula materials Scientific literacy 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Education and Professional StudiesGriffith UniversityMt GravattAustralia

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