Analysis of Chemical Representations in the Physical Sciences Textbooks for Grade 12 Learners in South Africa

Johnson Enero Upahi, Umesh Ramnarain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Textbooks play a prominent role in the teaching and learning of chemistry. It is the major organiser and the intended curriculum teachers adapt for their instructional practices. Although chemistry is abstract in nature, the use of visuals or images in textbooks to depict chemical phenomena at different levels remains a meaningful approach to help facilitate students’ understanding of chemistry. Therefore, this study analysed chemical representations in the chemistry components of the Physical Sciences textbooks for grade 12 learners in South Africa. Three textbooks were selected and analysed using the five criteria developed by Gkitzia, Salta and Tzougraki (2011). The findings revealed that the chemical representations in the textbooks were largely at the macroscopic and hybrid levels, with surface features that are ambiguous or explicit and representations that are unlinked to text. In addition, there were few sub-microscopic, multiple, and mixed representations in the textbooks. An interesting result is that a majority of the chemical representations had appropriate captions. The implications of these findings for textbook authors or publishers were discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-54
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Chemical representations
  • Chemistry
  • Physical Sciences textbooks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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