Textbook Analysis

What is Textbook Analysis?

Textbook analysis is the systematic analysis of the text materials including the structure, the focus, and special learning assists. Teachers may assume the text is “sacred" and follow it without thought or write it off as useless. Either approach is a disservice to students. Many textbook publishers and writers have developed texts with useful elements, if we are willing to figure out what they are.

How can Textbook Analysis help your students?

Students in the general learning population may have an easier time of "figuring out" how to use the textbook than those in the special education population. With help from the teacher, the text materials can begin to make more sense. If structure is explained students can get a better idea of where they are going in the course. If the teacher understands focus or bias, he/she can make additions or deletions as needed to keep the presentation balanced. If Learning assists are understood, they have a better chance of being utilized.

How can you implement Textbook Analysis in order to effectively meet the diverse learning needs of students?

  • When a new textbook is adopted, it can be helpful if you can hear what the sales staff has to say about the book. You will discover what their intent was with organization as well as with particular features of the book.
  • If sales staff is unavailable, take a look at the promotional materials. See what they are proud of. It may be useful in your planning.
  • Study the Table of Contents to see the content scope and sequence. Have students look at this organization with the idea of figuring out patterns. Cooperative Learning groups can be effective in comparing observations. Organization may be simply chronology for a history text, but is the same period of time covered in the same number of pages? If not, why not? In Geography, are the headings all continents? Or are there some chapters on entire countries? What does this say about the focus of the text writers?
  • By looking at Unit and Chapter headings, can you tell anything about the focus of the textbook author? Is there an area that is emphasized while another is underemphasized? E.g. in a Psychology text, does the author give equal treatment to different Personality theories?
  • What are the special assists associated with the text. Often a Social Studies text at the senior high level is a major tome. It may be intimidating for the teacher as well as the student. The teacher’s edition, with all the ancillary extras is even more imposing. It is helpful if a teacher takes the text home and just looks at the component parts. E.g. If you thing timelines are helpful in a history class, are there chapter timelines? Unit timelines? Which are going to be useful? If they are not useful, how am I going to compensate for that deficiency?

What are the different types of Textbook Analysis?

There are many ways to analyze a textbook, depending on the intent of the analysis. Purchasers may want to know reading levels, costs, ancillary costs, etc. After the text has been purchased, however, the analysis by the teacher, which can help instruction include the Structure of the Text, the Focus of the Author, and the usefulness of the learning assists.