consistent with the fundamental concepts in the Standards? Does the text include more, fewer, or different concepts?
Do the photographs and illustrations provide further understanding of the fundamental concepts?
The following procedures for content analysis will help you examine instructional materials for fundamental concepts of evolution, science as inquiry, and the nature of science. Look for evidence in discussions in the text and in the student investigations to determine the degree to which the fundamental concepts are addressed. Fundamental concepts underlying specific standards on evolution and the nature of science are reference below. (Note: You will need a copy of the National Science Education Standards or access to it through the World Wide Web at www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/nses.)
Content Standard C—Life Science: grades 5-8, ''Diversity and Adaptations of Organisms," p. 158; grades 9-12, "Biological Evolution," p. 185; also read "Developing Student Understanding" grades 5-8, pp. 155–156; and grades 9-12, p. 181.
Content Standard D—Earth and Space Science: grades 5-8, "Earth's History," p. 160; grades 9-12, "The Origin and Evolution of the Earth System," pp. 189-190; also read "Developing Student Understanding," grades 5-8, pp. 158-159; grades 9-12, pp. 187-188.
Choose a lesson or representative section of the student instructional materials on the topic of evolution. Make a preliminary list of the fundamental concepts from the Standards that are included in the lesson and place them on your worksheet. (See Worksheet 2 on page 114 in the back of this chapter.)
Select one of these fundamental concepts and list all sections of the materials that deal with this idea. Determine whether the materials focus on the fundamental concepts, or if they represent only a superficial match. For example, Life Science Standard C in the Standards5 specifies: "Biological evolution accounts for the diversity of species developed through gradual processes over many generations. Species acquire many of their unique characteristics through biological adaptation, which involves the selection of naturally occurring variations in populations." The instructional materials should provide opportunities for students to develop an understanding of biodiversity and evolution as described in the Standards. A negative example would be defining the term biodiversity only in reference to the fact that wide varieties of plants and animals populate particular environments.
You should complete this analysis for all fundamental concepts associated with a particular standard. The more fundamental concepts you analyze using this process, the more confidence you will have in the quality of the instructional materials and their alignment with the Standards. Identify the fundamental concepts that are not developed and the variation of treatment among those that are included in the materials.
If appropriate, select one of the student investigations for analysis of subject matter. On what fundamental concepts from Life Science Standard C or Earth and Space Science Standard D is the investigation focused? To what degree does the activity fulfill the intent of the fundamental concepts? For example, making and comparing model casts and molds of sea shells does not necessarily contribute to an understanding of how fossils are formed or provide important evidence of how life and environmental conditions have changed. It is recommended that you analyze a second student investigation.
You should develop some understanding of scientific inquiry in the Standards. Read Standard A, Science as Inquiry, referenced on the following page.