The purpose of the instructional analysis is to estimate how well the material addresses targeted benchmarks from the perspective of what is known about student learning and effective teaching. The criteria for making such judgments are derived from research on learning and teaching and on the craft knowledge of experienced educators. In the context of science literacy, summaries of these have been formulated in Chapter 13: Effective Learning and Teaching in Science for All Americans; in Chapter 15: The Research Base of Benchmarks for Science Literacy; and of science education alone in Chapter 3: Science Teaching Standards in National Science Education Standards.

From those sources, seven criteria clusters have been identified to serve as a basis for the instructional analysis. (One could view these as standards for instructional materials.) A draft of the specific questions within each cluster is shown below. The proposition here is that (1) in the ideal all questions within each cluster would be well addressed in a material — they are not alternatives; and (2) this analysis has to be made for each benchmark separately — if we are serious about having science literate high school graduates then we want to focus effective instruction on every single one of the important ideas in Science for All Americans.

Cluster I, Providing a Sense of Purpose. Part of planning a coherent curriculum involves deciding on its purposes and on what learning experiences will likely contribute to achieving those purposes. But while coherence from the designers' point of view is important, it may be inadequate to give students the same sense of what they are doing and why. This cluster includes criteria to determine whether the material attempts to make its purposes explicit and meaningful, either by itself or by instructions to the teacher.


Excerpt from Roseman, J.E., S. Kesidou, and L. Stern. 1997. Identifying Curriculum Materials for Science Literacy. A Project 2061 Evaluation Tool. Based on a paper prepared for the colloquium "Using the National Science Education Standards to Guide the Evaluation, Selection, and Adaptation of Instructional Materials." National Research Council, November 10-12, 1996. See <>.

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