An Analysis of Selected South African Grade 12 Physical Sciences Textbooks for the Inclusion of the NGSS Science Practices

Emmanueula Ndumanya, Umesh Ramnarain, Hsin Kai Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Textbooks remain an important resource in the hands of science teachers in ensuring that curricular aims and educational reforms are realised in school science. In a publication of the National Research Council (NRC) entitled “A Framework for K-12 Science Education,” emphasis is placed on students experiencing inquiry-based practices and not merely learning about them. These “practices” of science describe the behaviour in which real-life scientists engage while they investigate and construct model and theories about the natural and human world. The research reported in this article explored the extent to which these science practices are represented in South African Grade 12 Physical Sciences textbooks using qualitative content analysis. The analysis applied an adapted validated conceptual framework of the eight science practices that have been identified by the National Research Council. A Science Practice Continuum Rubric (SPCR) was developed for the coding of the textbooks. The analysis revealed that the science practices reflected in the textbooks were predominantly teacher-directed with only limited opportunity for student-engagement in the science practices. The findings of this analysis suggest that textbooks should be modified to sufficiently reflect practices at a higher level of student autonomy in order to improve the 21st-century learners’ scientific literacy in South African high school science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-552
Number of pages14
JournalCanadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Inquiry-based learning
  • NGSS science practices
  • Scientific literacy
  • Textbook analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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