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Journal of Education and Practice
ISSN 2222-1735 (Paper) ISSN 2222-288X (Online)
Vol.6, No.6, 2015
Guidelines on How to Read a Physics Textbook and the
Assessment of the Readability of Recommended Physics
Textbooks in Secondary Schools in Osun State of Nigeria
Akinyemi Olufunminiyi Akinbobola
Department of Special Education and Curriculum Studies, Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo, Nigeria
[email protected]
This study assessed the readability of the four recommended physics textbooks in senior secondary schools in
Osun State of Nigeria. A total of 25 physics teachers and 300 senior secondary three (SS3) physics students were
randomly selected in the 12 secondary schools used for the study. A survey design was used for the study.
Results showed that the four physics textbooks were appropriate for secondary school students in Osun state of
Nigeria in terms of age (Fry graph mean age = 17years, students’ mean age =15 years) .The books had the
highest rating by students on illustrations and clarity of prints while the lowest ratings were on sentence
structure and examples. Teachers considered the vocabulary as appropriate while the exercises were considered
least appropriate. The study also showed that the four physics textbooks were adjudged readable in term of
students’ ability to read and understand the contents. However, senior secondary school physics textbooks (69%)
was found to be most readable, seconded by ordinary level physics (64%), followed by principle of physics
while science teacher association of Nigeria (STAN) physics (15%) was found to be least readable by the
students. It is recommended that the readability of textbooks and the reading ability of students should be part of
the criteria for selecting textbooks.
Keywords: Readability, Recommended Physics Textbooks, Approved Guidelines, Structure and Objectives
Science textbook have a pervasive influence in school science education. One of the goals of science education
is to prepare individual for lifelong science learning, then it is important to examine the extent to which
textbooks are designed to facilitate this goal. Science textbooks are the ultimate source of science knowledge in
many science classroom of the extent that in many ways, they become the embodiment of science for students
(Yore, 1991).
The textbooks are very important teaching and learning resources. Thus, great effort must be taken in
ensuring that those to be selected and recommended for the schools are of good quality. A good textbook is
considered as a major tool in the educational advancement of a nation and consequently national development.
Providing explicit instruction on the use of illustrations and analogies can assist students in the effective reading
of science textbooks and enhance science learning (Mallow, 1991, Young, 1992). The textbook is relevant to
education and can be effective when used as a basis for planning a course according to topics; and in so doing, it
is important to use the sections of the book, which have bearing on the course. The textbook therefore fixes the
responsibility for knowing a certain amount of information and knowledge on the learners. By using the
textbook, the teacher is encouraged to cover a definite score of word. In defect, the textbook helps to check the
teacher’s performances, his methods and practices are compared with those suggested in the text (Okorie, 1979).
Essentially, the textbook helps a teacher to provide an organization of structure for his course. The
textbook also gives a variety of sources for gathering more information and the establishment of clearer
concepts. It can also be useful in training children and to develop skill very necessary to science. Another
legitimate use to which a class textbook may be put is to meet the problem of children’s lack of background
knowledge. Good as the textbook is to teaching and learning, based on the roles explained. A case is therefore
made for one or more textbooks in teaching physics, provided they are valuable adjunct (Lump & Beck, 1996).
There are certain requirements that guide the selection of learning resources. Ehindero (1994) remarked
that, it is the responsibility of the teacher to make sure that learning resources are: in keeping with curriculum
objectives and as such can assist in achieving desire goals of the programme; selected and appropriate to the
specific classroom learning setting; genuine concrete and foster reliable learning; appropriate to the range of
intellectual abilities of learners’ such that they encourage and motivate directly or indirectly learners’
participation; geared towards motivating and assisting learners to transfer and apply learning appropriately to
new situation, and directed to promote group and corporate learning, improved social interaction and encourage
problem solving skills and attitudes.
If textbooks are not properly censored, they should not be recommended at all, let alone being read in
the school. This is because there are two great dangers in using such a book in the interest of economy and the
hope of attracting a wide range of purchasers, publishers tend to cram as much information as possible into their
Journal of Education and Practice
ISSN 2222-1735 (Paper) ISSN 2222-288X (Online)
Vol.6, No.6, 2015
textbooks. A noticeable trend away from this pattern has appeared in recent years In Nigeria with publishers
tending to concentrate upon only a small number of topics, which the author treats more intensively. However,
the type of book in which a large number of topics is treated in outline only is still to be found. The use of
textbooks of the latter type may result in children learning a number of facts without really understanding them.
The words and sentences may register but their significance is lost; there is no learning beyond the extension of
the capacity to repeat verbal symbols when given appropriate stimulus (Akinwale, 1997).
Readability is an attribute of a text referring to whether or not it is interestingly and attractively written,
and easy to understand. Readability relates to the systematic examination of a wide range of factors that in
combination have been found to be associated with the interest and difficulty levels of texts. Readability is
defined as reading ease, especially as it results from a writing style. Easy-reading text improves reading speed,
reading persistence, retention and comprehension. Easy-of –reading is the result of the interaction between the
reader and the text. In the reader, those features affecting readability are motivation, interest, reading skill and
prior knowledge. In the text, those features are style, structure, design and content (Orstein, 1994).
Readability is the sum total of all those elements within a given piece of printed material that affect or
influence effective understanding which an individual or group of readers have. The factors that define the
success of any assessment of the readability of any text book are: the attraction and sustenance of the interest and
motivations of the reader, the legibility of the print, and the complexity of words and sentences in relation to the
reading ability of the reader (Adeyemi, 2006). To this extent, textbooks with poorly printed words and
illustrations, complex sentence structures, long words and too much material containing entirely new ideas are
not therefore likely to encourage, interest or motivate a reader. Such a text will therefore constitute a poor
written textbook with low readability index. Akinwale (1997) states what he called an overall impression of what
the characteristic of a readable textbook should be. Akinwale identified that books selected for pupils must have
titles that have appeals; books’ cover must be good and possess an attractive quality and the size must not be too
big in order to sustain their interest for long.
Yoloye (1975) used Longe Readability Technique to analyze the readability of the Nigeria Secondary
School Science Programmes (NSSSP) and Ayetoro comprehensive high school social studies materials. Classes
one and two students have difficulty in understanding them because the readability indices of the text were much
higher than the average reading level. Fawole (1992) also evaluated the readability indices of three selected
Mathematics textbooks and the perception of the subjects of the study on the readability of the Mathematics
textbooks in Ondo and Oyo States of Nigeria, using Fry readability method. Results obtained from the study
showed that the textbooks were appropriate for the age of the class of students’ readers for which they were
written. The readability indices of the books were also considered to be of varied qualities.
Egbugara and Astill (1989) compared predictions of Fry graph and Close-technique as they are related
to Physics students’ use of a recommended text material at the secondary school level in Nigeria and investigated
the appropriateness of the two readability formulas. The following discoveries were made: Fry graph and Cloze
readability technique did not compare in terms of predicting how students would perceive the difficulty of
Comparative Education Study and Adaptation Center (CESAC) Physics book 3, while the Cloze scores suggest