Representations of the Nature of Science in South African Physical Sciences Textbooks on Electricity and Magnetism

Yi Fen Yeh*, Thasmai Dhurumraj, Umesh Ramnarain

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Developing students’ understanding of and about science is an important educational goal. Learning the nature of science (NOS) has been recognized as a critical component of science literacy, affecting how students (our future citizens) make informed decisions. Textbooks can be useful teaching materials if the content presented aligns with curriculum guidelines, but they may not completely satisfy students’ learning needs. The reconceptualized FRA to NOS (RFN) offers a framework for teachers and students seeking to unpack and construct a comprehensive understanding of NOS. The present research analysed how NOS was represented in three chapters addressing magnetism and electricity in three high school textbooks published in South Africa. Using the 11 RFN categories and four levels of information explicitness criteria as analytical tools, we found that scientific practices, scientific knowledge, and social values were the three most frequently used NOS representations. Textbook excerpts representing these three RFN categories at different levels of information explicitness were also discussed in order to show how the target RFN were represented on this topic. Chronological diagrams were employed to denote how NOS representations interacted with one another, as well as reveal the level of information explicitness. Finally, the identified learning goals proposed by the textbooks were analysed to see how the NOS-related content aligned with the learning goals from the RFN perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1537-1559
Number of pages23
JournalScience and Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Oct


  • NOS
  • Nature of Science
  • Physics education
  • Textbook analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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