Textbook Evaluation Criteria | Checklist
A| Subject Matter
- Does the subject matter cover a variety of topics appropriate to the interests of the learners for whom the textbook is intended (urban or rural environment; child or adult learners; male and/or female students)?
- Is the ordering of materials done by topics or themes that are arranged in a logical fashion?
- Is the content graded according to the needs of the students or the requirements of the existing syllabus (if there is one)?
- Is the material accurate and up-to-date?
B| Vocabulary and Structures
- Does the vocabulary load (i.e., the number of new words introduced in every lesson) seem to be reasonable for the students of that level?
- Are the vocabulary items controlled to ensure systematic gradation from simple to complex items?
- Is the new vocabulary repeated in subsequent lessons for reinforcement?
- Does the sentence length seem reasonable for the students of that level?
- Is the number of grammatical points as well as their sequence appropriate?
- Do the structures gradually increase in complexity to suit the growing reading ability of the students?
- Does the writer use current everyday language, and sentence structures that follow normal word order?
- Do the sentences and paragraphs follow one another in a logical sequence?
- Are linguistic items introduced in meaningful situations to facilitate understanding and ensure assimilation and consolidation?
- Do the exercises develop comprehension and test knowledge of main ideas, details, and sequence of ideas?
- Do the exercises involve vocabulary and structures which build up the learner’s repertoire?
- Do the exercises provide practice in different types of written work (sentence completion, spelling and dictation, guided composition)?
- Does the book provide a pattern of review within the lessons and cumulatively test new material?
- Do the exercises promote meaningful communication by referring to realistic activities and situations?
- Do illustrations create a favorable atmosphere for practice in reading and spelling by depicting realism and action?
- Are the illustrations clear, simple, and free of unnecessary details that may confuse the learner?
- Are the illustrations printed close enough to the text and directly related to the content to help the learner understand the printed text?
E| Physical Make-up
- Is the cover of the book durable enough to withstand wear?
- Is the text attractive (i.e., cover; page appearance; binding)?
- Does the size for the book seem convenient for the students to handle?
- Is the type size appropriate for the intended learners?
Sample Textbook Evaluation Report
Inarguably, a peer evaluation of instructional materials is an effective strategy to identify the strengths and weaknesses, and to decide whether these are sufficient or not to meet the needs of the learners. Equally important, teacher-evaluators, in the event of insufficiency, are able to organize for effective and efficient classroom instructions. These may include modification and supplementation of the instructional materials, planning for integrative skills activities, i.e. productive and receptive skills, and provision for alternative and authentic learning assessments.
Overall, the peer evaluation score of the textbook Experiencing Powerful English: Worktext III by Cruz et al was 2.07 and verbally interpreted as adequate. Results based on the first evaluation checklist further revealed the evaluation strengths of the textbook including content length reasonable for the identified level (3.33), logical sequence of sentences and paragraphs (3.33), clarity and simplicity of illustrations (3.33), convenience of size for handling (3.67); however reflecting on the weaknesses, it was found inaccurate and outdated (1.17), unable to repeat vocabulary in subsequent lessons (1.33), and failed to provide a pattern for review within the lessons (1.33). With regard to the second phase of evaluation focused on the fitness of the textbook for the curriculum, students, and teachers, the evaluators agreed that it has an almost appropriate thematic content (3 of 6), and generally agreed fitness to the language skills (6 of 6) and knowledge-base (6 of 6) of the language teachers.
With this, the textbook has been considered teacher-friendly. In addition, the evaluators presumed that the content has probably failed to fit the curriculum goals. Thus, it has been concluded that the textbook can be taken as a primary instructional material; however, it highly requires further modification and supplementation of other instructional materials such as additional grammar-based and reading textbooks to fit totally to the curriculum, ESL students, and language teachers.
In the light of the foregoing textbook evaluation findings, the evaluators hereby recommend that the textbook must not be used solely in the language instructions in the identified level. Although it has been evaluated as adequate, a close inspection of individual criterion or parameter has significantly reveal insufficiency of the instructional material to some extent. As reported, it has been found that it has failed to meet curricular goals, thus, a very serious issue to address. Equally important, the material has posed major questions on accuracy and contemporariness of the content. Undoubtedly, this can be used as a supplementary instructional material or a primary textbook supplemented by teacher-modified or teacher-selected materials and other handouts.
Furthermore, an efficient teacher-controlled instructional pace must be well employed if the decision is to use the textbook as a supplemented primary instructional material. Language teachers, in this case, must plan the lessons well in advance, and clarify the particular instructional stages where supplementary materials are to be introduced and used. Also, these materials must be of quality and as much as possible undergo evaluations. Language teachers, themselves, may evaluate their self-developed materials or they may be in collaboration with others. Certainly, criteria in the said evaluations must include feasibility, availability of resources, consonance to set learning objectives, preparation time frame, and ability to engage learners in integrative skills activities.
On the other hand, if the textbook is to be used merely as a supplementary material, language teachers must locate significant and instruction-related portions. In the same manner, the richness of the textbook may allow teachers to supplement the primary textbook with literary readings, grammar drills, and other rudimentary language lessons. Almost the same as the other way, language teachers must always employ evaluation criteria in the choice of text portions. Lastly, it is always a good and responsible practice to communicate textbook evaluations and use of supplementary materials to the concerned academic authorities.
It is a consensus that language teachers, all teachers actually, are innately creative and resourceful. In times of scarcity of instructional materials, teachers have the potentials to develop efficiently alternative materials out of available resources. Therefore, teachers are not only facilitators of learning and executors of lessons, rather writers and developers of instructional materials. With this, teachers always have the evaluative capacity to decide whether the required instructional materials are appropriate, accurate, and sufficient.
The undertaken peer evaluation of the textbook, Experiencing Powerful English: Worktext III by Cruz et al, opens new doors for understanding the process of developing and the criteria for instructional materials. Developing instructional materials has always been an expert craft; however, teachers, learners, and the knowledge of modern-day teaching must be influencing factors in the preparation and organization of content, choice of vocabulary and language structures, planning for integrative skills exercises and activities, layout and illustrations, and overall physical make up. Similarly, writers and developers must also consider the fitness of the textbooks to the curriculum, learners, and teachers. In short, developing instructional materials is not just a professional accomplishment, but a scholarly responsibility.
Irrefutably, modern-day teaching poses new issues and challenges. Teachers need to adopt imperatively pedagogical tools and practices applicable to the new breed of learners and their learning needs and styles. Some teaching methods and strategies may no longer apply to some learning situations as the whole education system has drastically evolved, as learners has become more socially focused and technologically savvy, and as society has established new demands. Ultimately, teaching will always be a respected profession that helps shape the future of the nation and the world, and teachers will always keep themselves abreast of all changes.