Problem Statement: Textbooks play a crucial role in language education; thus, an investigation into the responses of the students and teachers to the textbook in use facilitates an understanding of the extent to which curriculum objectives are implemented at the teaching level through the agency of textbooks.
Purpose of Study: This research aims to evaluate four English textbooks that have been approved to be used in grade-4 and grade-5 classes by the Turkish Ministry of National Education in state primary schools after the 2005 curriculum renewal process.
Method: Participants were 816 fourth- and fifth-grade students and 124 teachers, selected with a cluster sampling technique from 54 schools in Adana, Turkey. Data were collected through a textbook evaluation checklist—a Smiley Questionnaire—and complemented with interviews. Descriptive statistics and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and the Scheffe-test were used in evaluating the perceptions of students and teachers to the fourth-grade textbooks. In addition, the independent-samples t-test was used in analyzing the perceptions of students and teachers to the fifth-grade textbook. The interview data were subjected to content analysis.
Findings and Results: It was found that fourth-grade students considered Trip1 as the most appropriate textbook, followed by Texture English and Time for English. A similar finding was obtained from the teachers, except that no difference was observed in the opinion of the teachers on the ‘skills’ subscale of the questionnaire. Interview findings with the students and the teachers confirmed that each grade-4 textbook is designed to meet the MNE curriculum objectives and the students’ needs. Analysis of the fifth-grade textbook indicated that the students had a more favorable perception than the teachers on ‘layout,’ ‘language content,’ ‘subject content,’ and ‘overall’ subscales of the smiley questionnaire. Yet, on the ‘skills’ and ‘methodology’ subscales, no significant difference was observed between the perceptions of both groups. Most grade-5 students interviewed were pleased with using Time for English. Whilst the teachers interviewed expressed several favorable aspects of the grade-5 textbook, two shortcomings were identified: complexity and learnability of the language items.
Conclusions and Recommendations: Findings demonstrate that the four English textbooks are well-designed to serve as potential agents for curriculum change. Three implications are suggested for the future textbook policy of the Ministry. First, the grade-5 textbook needs to be revised to achieve a better sequencing of language items. Second, to increase cost-effectiveness of the textbooks, the necessary revisions need to be made on the available textbooks based on such research findings. Finally, pronunciation should be integrated through developing specialized activities in future published English textbooks.
Keywords: Perceptions, primary education, textbook evaluation, textbook as agent of curriculum change, grade 4, grade 5.