Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




The desire for a universally acceptable and adaptable workbook for use in high school classes in biology has often been expressed by teachers in the field. It must be acknowledged that to be adaptable in all situations the workbook must be designed with many factors in mind. The following questions seem of paramount importance in the design of an applicable workbook. (1) What phases of a biology course require supplementary work by the student in order to insure more fully the comprehension of the material? (2) How can material of little consequence or importance in the total teaching situation be kept to a minimum and thereby reduce the amount of “busy-work” which students recognize and recent? (3) What learnings will be of the greatest value to the student? It has been the experience of this writer that the use of workbooks in conjunction with the teaching of a biology course presents nearly as many disadvantages as advantages. In this preparation of a workbook it is the task of the author to minimize such disadvantages. The foremost advantages of employing a workbook may be several: (1) the teacher is eased of the task of preparing material appropriate to suitable student activity, (2) ready-made exercises on the topic of study are available to both the teacher and the student. Teacher-made exercises on a day-to-day basis are usually inferior to those appearing in workbooks because the teacher does not have the time to compose, edit, and rewrite any considerable amount of materials. Value can be achieved through the use of properly designed laboratory exercises. Every serious teacher wants each student to learn and understand the basic concepts and principles underlying a course in science. Many of the taught principles are applied to everyday life. It is also desirable to have the students develop certain attitudes, form proper habits, and learn to work together harmoniously in groups. A workbook on thus serves as a valuable supplement to the course. Workbooks also aid the student to check his comprehension of the material taught, to make generalizations, and they direct his attention to related fields of interest which he may wish to explore later. Of course, we must not assume that workbooks are produced with the assumption that their use will require no preparation nor proper presentation on the part of the teacher. It is infrequent that the aims of a science course are realized if each student’s work consists only of reading and listening plus unsupervised projects and activities. To realize the aims of science courses, the students must engage in considerable overt activity both individually and in groups. To lead to the desired outcomes, activities must be well planned in advance and carefully directed. This is difficult for most teachers who have several classes composed of students of widely varying interest and capacities. Through the use of a well prepared workbook teachers can provide the necessary stimulus for student activity and also supervise the students’ progress even though the students will not be doing identical work except in the objective portions of the workbook. Many teachers who are opposed to the use of the workbook in science courses devote much class time in writing exercises on the blackboard for their students to copy and use. To save considerable time in copying examples from the board with the resultant possibility of error, and to prevent the choice of contained material which present unforeseen difficulties, the use of the workbook would seem advantageous.

Providing students with workbooks also has the advantage of giving the students something to use that is new, and is a personal possession. It is of further advantage to the teacher since there are no loose papers to become lost and no filing problem in created. Not all textbooks provide sufficient work material to satisfy the needs of the average student, far less to challenge the superior student. The reason for this is largely economic. The publishers must sell in a highly competitive market and in order to keep within a practical price range, it is not feasible to increase the number of pages in a textbook. For this reason much material is omitted for productive economy. Aside from the foregoing, we may consider the adverse criticism of workbooks. The following are among the most frequently mentioned complaints:

1. A large number of workbooks contains pages of blank spaces to fill.

2. They tend to stress memorization of facts rather than elaboration of principles.

3. Some workbooks minimize individual differences.

4. Some workbooks are followed too slavishly.

5. “Busy-work” is included in many workbooks to the neglect of more challenging work.

6. Emphasis upon speed of completion of exercises rather than upon accuracy is often stressed.

7. Workbook purchase presents an extra item of expense to the student or to the school.

8. Often only a portion of the workbook is utilized because of relative unimportance of the material or lack of sufficient time.

A number of workbooks are prepared somewhat as a chore by some authors of textbooks. These authors have had little, if any, experience with school children; consequently, much workbook material merely requires rote responses. There is little justification for the use of such materials. On the whole, the degree of success or failure of workbook application is dependent upon how the individual teacher directs its use. Some mistakes may be made in directing the use of workbooks but possibly not as many as would be made without them. It is the conviction of the writer that there is a definite need for the use of workbooks in teaching biology; for this reason the researcher has approached the problem of analyzing the topic content of selected workbooks.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Biology -- Study and teaching


Includes bibliographic references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Only