A case study of the alignment of textbook-centered vs. multiple reference biology classrooms with the biology education desired state

Date of Completion

January 1988


Education, Teacher Training|Education, Secondary|Education, Sciences




The microethnographic study examined six high school biology teachers and their classrooms. Using a purposeful sampling technique, three textbook-centered (TC) and three multiple reference (MR) biology teachers were identified. Using the Project Synthesis "desired state" and "actual state" of biology education categories and descriptors (Harms & Yager, 1981), composite profiles of TC and MR biology classrooms were developed. These profiles were then compared to the "actual state" and "desired state" descriptors to ascertain if the nature of the textbook orientation of biology classrooms (TC vs. MR) correlates with either the "actual state" or "desired state" criteria for biology education.^ The data revealed that the textbook-centered classrooms align closely (in over 95% of the data entries) with the Project Synthesis "actual state" characteristics of biology education. The multiple reference classrooms aligned approximately equally with both the Project Synthesis "actual state" and "desired state" characteristics. However, regardless of text use, teachers did not integrate "desired state" criteria in the process of evaluating student performance. The data also revealed that factors other than textbook-centeredness or multiple reference use correlate with alignment with the "desired states." These factors include: (a) the goals a biology teacher uses to guide the curriculum, (b) the variety of classroom activities used to implement the curriculum, and (c) the teacher's commitment to professional and curriculum development activities.^ The results of this study suggest that future research aimed at investigating how teachers develop the ability to address "desired state" criteria should focus on: (1) the process by which teachers formulate their goals, and the effect of those goals on curriculum development, curriculum implementation, and the nature of textbook use; (2) the effect of various models of preservice and inservice science teacher education on the ability of teachers to exhibit "desired state" characteristics; and (3) the effect of the use of various instructional strategies on the ability of teachers to approach the "desired state" of biology education. ^