Appraising Science Textbooks through Quantitative Text Analysis and Psychometric Results of Students’ Reading Skills

AbstractThe “primary-secondary learning gap” has long been discussed in Japan. Many students suddenly have difficulties in understanding subjects when they enter junior high school (7th grade in Japan). Despite the fact that textbooks are one of the most important learning instruments, the qualitative and quantitative change in the content of textbooks has not been examined in light of the primary-secondary learning gap. In this paper, we show that students are overloaded with the steep increase in the definitions of scientific concepts in textbooks. While the number of definition expressions in textbooks increases rapidly toward junior high school, students’ skills in understanding definitions develop only gradually. We demonstrated this through a quantitative linguistic analysis of textbooks and psychometric results of students’ reading skills.

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