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The Mathematics in the Social Studies Textbook: A Critical Content Analysis and Implications for Students’ Reasoning

DOI: 10.4236/ce.2019.101001, PP. 1-25

Keywords: Social Studies Education, Mathematics, Student Reasoning, Textbook Analysis, 10th Grade (USA)

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Abstract:

We report on a case study of the?mathematical?content of a 10th?grade?social studies?textbook. We develop our case in three analytical steps. First, we identify, describe, and categorize the full range of mathematics in the book. Put simply, we ask: What mathematical forms (e.g., Cartesian graphs and problems) do we find and what kinds of mathematical work do they require? Second, we characterize and critically evaluate the mathematics content in the textbook, focusing in particular on the kinds of mathematics literacy and student reasoning that the book fosters. Third and finally, we operationalize a measure of the “density” of mathematics in the textbook—that is, an estimate of the presence and pervasiveness of mathematical objects and practices relative to other disciplinary contentsand track how such “density” has changed over the past three editions of the same volume. Doing so helps us further contextualize and elaborate the prior analyses, but also surfaces shifts in the patterns of mathematics presence in that textbook series, including the growing encroachment of mathematics exercising and visual/representational presence.

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