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Focus group results into school science textbook evaluation rubric
A focus group was organized on June 5, 2016, in Jaipur which was coordinated by social activist Komal Srivastava to review new science textbooks of Rajasthan government. The exercise was undertaken as an extension of the work of the core review team, led by professor Apoorvanand of Delhi University and Prof. Rajiv Gupta from the Rajasthan University who in their first over-review of the new textbooks had said that the new school textbooks of Rajasthan state contained factual errors and had serious limitations from a pedagogical point of view.
The focus group of eight members found that the middle school level new science textbooks in Rajasthan lacked even the intrinsic validity since they do not match with the very nature of science characterised by objectivity; process-orientation with verification as the key process; and dynamism.

There are few elements of pseudo-science and scientism in the textbooks. Even the approach to writing the text or content lacks the technical language nuances since at this level, science take up a disciplinary structure.

As an observer, I sat through four-hour discussion and took notes. From my notes, I identified that the textbooks need to be scientifically reviewed by creating a multi-criteria evaluation rubric. Since a well thought and designed rubric even can reflect on the quality of the textbook systematically and consequently comment rationally on the quality of intended education since it can work as a scientific instrument to evaluate textbooks.

My analysis of the notes for own academic growth led to identification of the following 13 factors of the rubric: content and factual accuracy; language pitching; needs of the learners and contexts; link to previous knowledge and learnt main points; pedagogical principle simple to complex sequencing; activities or experiments per lesson; supplementary information per lesson; visual symbols and diagrams; gender neutrality and sensitivity; paragraphs logically built; referenced graphics; daily life examples, and applications; practice and evaluation exercises.

I think that if the books are evaluated on three point scale for all the factors by a good number of science teachers we can get statistically valuable results to provide qualitative commentary on the new textbook. Even, the earlier and new textbooks can be compared to find out which are better.

If the larger meaning of the continuous and comprehensive evaluation is taken into account that one has to describe with what kind of content and classroom practice, what kind of learning outcomes have been achieved. This also requires that the textbook developer should be able describe the quality of their textbooks and convince the parents and teachers rationally about the content of the textbook.

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