Cover Image

Science Curriculum Objectives’ Intellectual Demands: A Thematic Analysis

Yi̇lmaz Soysal


Science curriculums and curricular materials are essential guidelines in materializing effective science teaching. The primary goal of the current study aims to present a thematic analysis of the last three elementary and middle school science curriculums objectives released in 2013, 2017, and 2018 to determine whether they provide a base for science teachers to design intellectually demanding instructional tasks. This study conducted an in-depth document analysis to describe the curricular themes and objectives' intellectual demands beyond a mere description. Moreover, a critical document-based thematic analysis achieved a call for an in-depth interrogation of the intended science curricula. The current study reveals that the explored science curriculums mainly include physics-related and biology-related topics and chemistry-related topics. There is less place for the issues related to astrophysics and earth sciences. Although three curricular changes (2013, 2017, and 2018) were actualized to enrich the science curriculums' scope, intellectual capacity, and thematic variation, the conceptual emphasis seemed to be strictly copied over the years. The curriculums under examination appeared to let the teachers design high intellectually demanding tasks to teach science knowledge and epistemic practices, however, to a certain extent. It is concluded that the sharp decreases in the number of objectives observed in the abstraction zone may hinder teachers from generating teaching environments where students can transfer acquired knowledge and practices to external contexts. Educational recommendations are offered in the sense of curriculum development and teacher education.

Full Text:

Download PDF


Aktan, O. (2019). Investigation of Primary School Mathematics Curriculum Lesson Acquisitions According to Renewed Bloom Taxonomy. PAU Journal of Education, 48(1), 15-36.

Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., Airasian, P. W., Cruikshank, K. A., Mayer, R. E., Pintrich, P. R., ... & Wittrock, M. C. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives, abridged edition. White Plains, NY: Longman, 5(1).

Author. (2020). [Title omitted for blind review].

Author. (2021). [Title omitted for blind review].

Aydin, A., Ayyildiz, Y., & Nakiboğlu, C. (2019) Investigation of the Gains of the 2018 Science High School Chemistry Curriculum according to the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy and Comparison with 2018 Chemistry Curriculum. Necatibey Faculty of Education Electronic Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 13(2), 1186-1215.

Biggs J. (1995). Assessing for learning: Some dimensions underlying new approaches to educational assessment. Alberta J. Educ. Res., 41(1), 1-17.

Beyer, C., & Davis, E. A. (2012a). Developing preservice elementary teachers’ pedagogical design capacity for reform‐based curriculum design. Curriculum Inquiry, 42, 386-413.

Beyer, C., & Davis, E. A. (2012b). Learning to critique and adapt science curriculum materials: Examining the development of preservice elementary teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge. Science Education, 96, 130-157.

Brown-Acquaye, H. A. (2001). Each is necessary and none is redundant: The need for science education in developing countries. Science Education, 85, 68–70.

Çalik, M., Alipaşa A., & Coll, R. K. (2007). Investigating the effectiveness of a constructivist-based teaching model on student understanding of the dissolution of gases in liquids. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 16, 257-270.

Çalik, M., & Alipaşa A. (2008). A critical review of the development of the Turkish science curriculum. In R. K. Coll & N. Taylor (Eds.), Science education in context: An international examination of the influence of context on science curricula development and implementation (pp. 161-174). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Çalik, M., Alipaşa A., & Coll, R. K. (2009). Investigating the effectiveness of an analogy activity in improving students’ conceptual change for solution chemistry concepts. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 7, 651-676.

Cangüven, H. D., Öz, O., Binzet, G., & Avcı, G. (2017). Examination of Ministry of National Education 2017 Draft Science Program According to Revised Bloom Taxonomy. International Journal of Eurasian Education and Culture, 2, 62-80.

Carlgren, I. (1999). Professionalism and teachers as designers. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31(1), 43-56.

Cross, R., Bone, E., Ampt, P., Bell, T., Quinnell, R., & Gongora, J. (2020). Embedding Cultural Competence in Science Curricula. In Cultural Competence and the Higher Education Sector (pp. 255-275). Singapore: Springer.

Dela Fuente, J. A. (2021). Implementing inclusive education in the Philippines: College teacher experiences with deaf students. Issues in Educational Research, 31(1), 94-110.

Dela Fuente, J. A. & Biñas, L. C. (2020). Teachers’ competence in information and communications technology (ICT) as an educational tool in teaching: An empirical analysis for program intervention. Journal of Research in Education, Science and Technology, 5(2), 61-76.

Duit, R., & Treagust, D. F. (2012). How can conceptual change contribute to theory and practice in science education? In Second international handbook of science education (pp. 107-118). Springer, Dordrecht.

Elizabeth, A. D., Fred, J. J., Janssen, M., & Van Driel, J. H. (2016) Teachers and science curriculum materials: where we are and where we need to go. Studies in Science Education, 52(2), 127-160.

Elmas, R., Rusek, M., Lindell, A., Nieminen, P., Kasapoğlu, K., & Bílek, M. (2020). The intellectual demands of the intended chemistry curriculum in Czechia, Finland, and Turkey: a comparative analysis based on the revised Bloom’s taxonomy. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 21(3), 839-851.

Fitzpatrick, B., & Schulz, H. (2015). Do curriculum outcomes and assessment activities in science encourage higher order thinking?. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education, 15(2), 136-154.

Fortus, D., & Krajcik, J. (2012). Curriculum coherence and learning progressions. In B. Fraser, K. Tobin, & C. McRobbie (Eds.), Second international handbook of science education (pp. 783–798). Dordrecht: Springer.

Gilbert, J. K., & Treagust, D. (2009). Introduction: macro, submicro and symbolic representations and the relationship between them: key models in chemical education. In J. K. Gilbert & D. Treagust (Eds.), Multiple representations in chemical education (pp. 1–8). The Netherlands: Springer.

Johnstone, A. H. (1991). Why is science difficult to learn? Things are seldom like they seem. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 7(2), 75-83.

Johnstone, A. H. (1993). The development of chemistry teaching: a changing response to changing demand. Journal of Chemical Education, 70(9), 701-705.

Johnstone, A. H. (2000). Teaching of chemistry: logical or psychological?. Chemistry Education: Research and Practice in Europe, 1(1), 9-15.

Karppinen, K., & Moe, H. (2019). Texts as data: Document analysis. In The Palgrave handbook of methods for media policy research (pp. 249-262). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Kim, Y. (2019). Global convergence or national variation? Examining national patterns of classroom instructional practices. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 17(3), 353-377.

Koh, T. S., Tan, K. C. D., & Cheah, H. M. (2008). Science education in Singapore: Meeting the challenges ahead. In R. K. Coll & N. Taylor (Eds.), Science education in context: An international examination of the influence of context on science curricula development and implementation (pp. 283–290). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Lee, Y.-J., Kim, M., & Yoon, H.-G. (2015). The intellectual demands of the intended primary science curriculum in Korea and Singapore: An analysis based on revised Bloom’s taxonomy. International Journal of Science Education, 37(13), 2193-2213.

Lee, Y.-J., Kim, M., Jin, Q., Yoon, H.-G., & Matsubara, K. (2017). East-Asian primary science curricula: An overview using revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. Dordrecht: Springer.

Lewin, K. (1993). Planning policy on science education in developing countries. International Journal of Science Education, 15, 1-15.

Luke, A. (2010). Will the Australian curriculum up the intellectual ante in primary classrooms?. Curriculum Perspectives, 30(3), 59-64.

Marzano R. J., & Kendall J. S. (2006). The new taxonomy of educational objectives (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Milner, H. R. (2011). Culturally relevant pedagogy in a diverse urban classroom. The Urban Review, 43(1), 66-89.

Morse, J. M. (2015). Critical analysis of strategies for determining rigor in qualitative inquiry. Qualitative Health Research, 25(9), 1212-1222.

Mortimer, E., & Scott, P. (2003). Meaning Making in Secondary Science Classrooms. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).

Remillard, J. T. (1999). Curriculum materials in mathematics education reform: A framework for examining teachers’ curriculum development. Curriculum Inquiry, 29(3), 315–342.

Remillard, J. T., & Heck, D. J. (2014). Conceptualising the curriculum enactment process in mathematics education. ZDM Mathematics Education, 46(5), 705-718.

Schmidt, W. H., McKnight, C. C., Houang, R. T., Wang, H., Wiley, D. E., Cogan, L. S., & Wolfe, R. G. (2001). Why schools matter: A cross-national comparison of curriculum and learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, A Wiley.

Schmidt, W. H., Wang, H. C., & McKnight, C. C. (2005). Curriculum coherence: An examination of US mathematics and science content standards from an international perspective. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 37(5), 525-559.

Smith G., Wood L., Coupland M., Stephenson B., Crawford K. & Ball G. (1996). Constructing mathematical examinations to assess a range of knowledge and skills. Int. J. Math. Educ. Sci. Technol., 27(1), 65-77.

Tekkumru-Kisa, M., Stein, M. K., & Schunn, C. (2015). A framework for analysing cognitive demand and content-practices integration: Task analysis guide in science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 52(5), 659-685.

Tekkumru-Kisa, M., Schunn, C., Stein, M. K., & Reynolds, B. (2019). Change in thinking demands for students across the phases of a science task: An exploratory study. Research in Science Education, 49(3), 859-883.

Toledo S., & Dubas J. M. (2015). Encouraging higher-order thinking in general chemistry by scaffolding student learning using Marzano’s taxonomy. J. Chem. Educ., 93(1), 64-69.

Vosniadou, S. (2012). Reframing the classical approach to conceptual change: Preconceptions, misconceptions and synthetic models. In Second international handbook of science education (pp. 119-130). Springer, Dordrecht.

Wan, D., & Lee, Y. J. (2020). The Intellectual Demands and Coherency of Topics of Reformed Primary Science Curricula from Three East-Asian Regions. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 1-20.

Wang, Z., & McDougall, D. (2019). Curriculum matters: What we teach and what students gain. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 17(6), 1129-1149.

Wei, B., & Ou, Y. (2019). A comparative analysis of junior high school science curriculum standards in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao: Based on revised Bloom’s taxonomy. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 17(8), 1459-1474.

Yaz, Ö. V., & Kurnaz, M. A. (2020). Comparative Analysis of the Science Teaching Curricula in Turkey. SAGE Open, 10(1), 2158244019899432.

Zorluoğlu, S. L., Kizilaslan, A., & Sozbilir, M. (2016). Analysis and evaluation of learning outcomes in high school chemistry curriculum according to revised Bloom taxonomy. Necatibey Faculty of Education Electronic Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 10(1), 260-279.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Yi̇lmaz Soysal

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Journal of Science Learning is published by Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia
in collaboration with the Indonesian Society of Science Educators
Jl. Dr. Setiabudhi 229 Bandung 40154, West Java, Indonesia
Email: js