Evaluating Primary Grade-Level Science Texts for Evidence of Science Information, Quality of Literature, and Elements of Critical Literacy with the Modified Analytical Science Trade-Book Rubric
Patchett, Connie Mathis
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Critical literacy is an essential element of science and should be present in science trade-books. The purpose of the study was to examine the efficacy of modifying an existing two-subscale survey instrument, the Science Trade Book Evaluation Rubric (STBER), in order to add critical literacy elements as a third subscale. Texts reviewed represented Award Winning Trade-Book (AW) sources: the National Science Teachers Association’s Outstanding Science Trade Books (NSTA) (OSTB), National Council of Teachers of English’s (NTCE) Orbis Pictus Award (OPA), the International Reading Association’s (IRA) Teachers Choices Reading List (TCRL), and the Association for Library Service to Children’s (ALSC) Robert F. Sibert Medal (RFSM) and the Curriculum-Selected Trade-Books (CS) from the Booklist K-8+ (Fountas & Pinnell, 2009). The Modified Analytic Science Trade-Book Evaluation Rubric (MASTER) was employed to evaluate 321 randomly selected science trade-books from five sources. The study was guided by two research questions: (1) How accurately can the instrument distinguish Award-Winning Trade-Books (AW) from the Curriculum-Selected Trade-Books (CS) booklists? and (2) What Critical Literacy elements and topics can be found in primary grade-level Science trade-books as identified by the MASTER instrument? Data were analyzed using Cronbach’s Alpha, Shapiro-Wilk’s Test of Normality, Kruskal-Wallis, and Mann-Whitney U test. Total scores considering the Decade Factor, pre-twenty-first century (1986-1999), first millennial decade (2000-2009), and last millennial decade (2010-2014) were examined. Significant differences were indicated between Decade 1 to 3 and Decade 2 to 3 in the Literacy subscale and all three decades in the Critical Literacy subscales. Decade 2 and 3 were analyzed across all subscales with Cross-tabulations; results indicated more books from Decade 3 in the award-winning category and more books in Decade 2 from the curriculum-selected category. Findings suggest the MASTER is a statistically reliable tool to evaluate primary grade-level trade-books. The MASTER identifies Critical Literacy elements in some science trade books and marks missing elements in others. The five resource booklists offered few books in physical sciences. Further research would employ a wider expert panel to validate the MASTER. Books from other sample populations could be used to replicate the study.
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