Explanatory reasoning in Junior high Science textbooks
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Current reforms in science education emphasize the importance of using inquiry- based teaching strategies that engage students in formulating explanations from evidence (National Research Council [NRC], 2000). Specifically, for example, the National Science Education Standards in the United States state that students in grades 5 to 8 should “develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence” and “think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations” (NRC, 1996, p. 145). As an additional example, current science education curriculum documents in Alberta include outcomes that expect students to investigate, explain, interpret, and discuss evidence for scientific concepts. For example, the Planet Earth unit in Grade 7 includes outcomes such as “Investigate and interpret evidence that Earth’s surface undergoes both gradual and sudden change” and “Interpret models that show a layered structure for Earth’s interior; and describe, in general terms, evidence for such models” (Alberta Learning, 2003, p. 27).