Science Vocabulary Load of Selected Secondary Science Textbooks


Department Curriculum and Instruction, Northeast Louisiana University, Monroe, LA 71209.


It has been argued that many students view science as a collection of facts and terms to be memorized. Robert Yager (1983) analyzed secondary level science textbooks to determine vocabulary load and found that the amount of new vocabulary terms presented in such textbooks is higher than that recommended for junior high and high school foreign language courses. Three textbooks analyzed in that study were re-evaluated, taking into account limitations expressed in the earlier study. The new study also included analysis of an earth science textbook; the first study did not. The re-analysis produced a noticeable reduction in vocabulary load estimates with only one book, Modern Chemistry, still measuring above the recommended level for foreign language courses. It is argued that the amount of vocabulary load presented is still too high and may contribute to the problem of science avoidance by secondary students.