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Designing Mathematics or Science Curriculum Programs: A Guide for Using Mathematics and Science Education Standards
books intended for the same age level contain an average of 170 and 125 pages, respectively (Schmidt & Valverde, 1998).
The breadth of topic coverage and lack of focus in the textbooks in the United States as illustrated by these data do not allow students to develop deep understanding of the topics. An analysis of eighth-grade physical science textbooks on the topic of chemical changes illustrates the problem (see Figure 2) (Schmidt et al., 1997). In the textbooks
Reprinted from A Splintered Vision: An Investigation of U.S. Science and Mathematics Education, pg. 104, Exhibit 40, by permission of Kluwer Academic Publishers (Schmidt et al., 1997).5
Percentages in some categories were so low or negligible that they may not appear on Fig. 2. Performance expectations as defined in the TIMSS study are as follows: Simple information (information such as vocabulary, facts, equations, simple concepts; examples include defining, describing, naming, quoting, reciting, etc.; specific examples are defining scientific terms [boiling point, niche], knowing symbols [abbreviations for units, chemical symbols], describing simple concepts [materials expand when heated, characteristics of animals]); Complex information (information involving the integration of bits of simple information; examples include differentiating, comparing, contrasting, synthesizing; specific examples are understanding how increased external pressure raises boiling point of liquids, how fire is a part of the life cycle of pine trees) (Robitaille et al., 1993).