|The Elaboration of School Textbooks - Methodological Guide (UNESCO, 1989, 66 p.)|
|VI. EVALUATION OF THE FINAL MANUSCRIPT|
|The trial edition|
Many countries do not yet have sufficient experience in the elaboration of textbooks and their generalized use at all levels of schooling. In such cases, a trial edition can avert serious drawbacks and waste of resources which would result from the mass production of school books which contain shortcomings which could be prejudicial to the quality of teaching. Such cases can occur in a country where there are no competent authors, or no teachers with sufficient experience in writing textbooks. For these reasons a trial edition should be tested, the main objective being to evaluate the effectiveness of the final, revised textbook in the teaching-learning process within a real school situation.
A trial edition can be produced with relatively limited resources, using, for instance, mimeographed reproduction or printing on small off-set presses. Illustrations playing an important role in the text should be reproduced, unless reproduction involves complicated techniques (such as the use of several colours). Reproduction in black and white can often suffice.
Copies may be limited to a few hundred.
The trial edition is produced once the final manuscript has been evaluated and revised. So, it is guaranteed, a priori, as relevant teaching material. However, testing in schools can reveal imperfections which have passed unnoticed during evaluation. The following conditions are applicable for testing a trial edition:
- The trial edition is tested in a small number of schools and in classes which correspond to the instructional level of the textbook (four or five schools);
- The schools chosen should be located in different zones (urban and rural or semi-rural);
- Teachers taking part should have good or average qualifications; if qualifications are too low, much of the validity of the testing and evaluation will be lost. Moreover, these teachers should be capable of expressing valid opinions on the experimental textbook and of making pertinent suggestions as to eventual modifications;
- The teachers designated to take part in the experiment should understand the objectives. They should also be aware that their observations and suggestions will be transmitted to the author(s) and to the publisher;
- An evaluator will accompany and supervise the experiment.
The reactions of teachers and pupils to the use of a trial textbook will serve as a basis for evaluation. After testing, the teachers should be able to answer the following questions:
- Is content interesting for the pupils?
- Is content well adapted to the objectives of the subject and the instructional level?
- Can the progression of content be followed without difficulty?
- Is the vocabulary of the textbook well adapted to the age and level of the pupils?
- Is the text sufficiently comprehensible for the pupils?
- Are illustrations clear and accurate enough and do they interest the children? (In this respect, the quality of reproduction of illustrations in a trial edition should be borne in mind).
- Is the pedagogical methodology which inspired the textbook easily applicable and is it adapted to the learning objectives and the level of instruction?
- Are exercises easy or difficult for the pupils and do they enable good evaluation of learning?
On the use of the textbook:
- Is the textbook easy to use and practical both for teacher and pupils?
- Do teaching conditions permit fully efficient use of the textbook?
Observations and suggestions from teachers
Once the teachers have completely understood the objectives of testing and with the help and advice of the evaluator, observations and suggestions can be made during actual teaching practice. These observations and suggestions, examined and recognized as pertinent by the group of evaluators can therefore be applied, if need be, to correct or immediately revise the manuscript without waiting for the end of the experiment.