Investigating Authors’ Strategies and Issues in Textbook Writing:Some Emergent Findings Dr. Jongwon Lee (Ewha Womans University, Seoul) &Professor Simon Catling (Oxford Brookes University)
Research objective • Textbooks remain widely used in geography and other subject teaching. Yet, there has been negligible research into authors’ intentions, influences and decisions in their textbook writing. • The purpose of this research project is to investigate the expertise, experiences and strategies of textbook authorsdeveloping and writing geography textbooks. • For this project we have taken geography textbook (series) to be material(s) designed for an age phase of school pupils (e.g. 7-11 years olds or 16-18 year olds), whether in one or several books with additional resources, which intend to aid the progressive development of pupils’ geographical knowledge and understanding over time. [We appreciate this may be a contested definition.]
Significance of research • With the current emphasis on the individual teacher’s role in curriculum development (e.g. the GA’s Curriculum Making), this study will provide an important resource for teachers to understand the contexts, types of problems and decisions which textbook authors encounter and make. • On December 2nd 2013 Elizabeth Truss, Minister for Schools in the DfE, argued for the value and role of subject textbooks in schools at the Education Publishers’ Annual Conference. She saw textbooks as a useful, indeed strong, resource to support the revised national curriculum from September 2014. • This indicates, perhaps, that the topic of subject textbooks is pertinent again – for ministers at least!
A survey of textbook authors • Finding experienced authors and obtaining valid information from them constitute a crucial part of this project. Their perspective is rarely researched. • 10 British authors were identified and invited to participate in this survey. 7 of them agreed, and they responded during December 2013.
Structure of the survey • Geography textbook authors’ • Perceptionsof geography education • Educational goals • Unique values of geography subject • Expertise of a geography textbook author • Textbook design approaches • Key influences to consider when writing textbooks • Key features to consider when designing students activities(tasks) • Key external constraints while writing textbooks • Design strategies/methods • Strategies/methods to promote student engagement • Strategies/methods to develop ‘developmentally appropriate’ textbooks • Principles to select case studies • Background information
Educational goals (1) Analysis framework for educational goals
Educational goals (2) P : primary author S : secondary author
Unique values of geography (1) • ‘A Different View’ (GA, 2009) • Geography deepens understanding of many contemporary challenges (e.g. climate change, food security, energy choices) → Unique knowledge • Using maps and mediated images of people and place, numerical data and graphical modes of communication and getting to grips with the geographic information systems that underpin our lives, make geographers skillful and employable. → Unique skills • Living Geography brings contemporary context and real world enquiry to the curriculum. • Geography is quintessentially a ‘discovery subject’. Geography can engage young people’s fundamental curiosity and questions: Where do I live? How does it look? Why do things move? Who decides who gets what, where and why?
Unique values of geography (2) “[Geography] makes use of notions such as space, place and interconnections and these provide a valuable framework” (P1) “Develop geographical skills, especially those related to the use of maps of various types, and geographical enquiry” (S3) “[Learning geography] can incite in them the feeling that they can have an impact on what is going on round them” (P2) World View & Geographical Perspective  Geographical Knowledge & Understanding  Geographical Skills  Geographical Enquiry  Geography & Everyday Life  Fieldwork  “[Being] able to use the pupils’ world” (P2) “The subject evolves daily ‥ It is all around us” (S1) Link with other subject  “Fieldwork has an eminently geographical importance” (P3) “[Geography] is a great foundation for studying history, politics, economics, world religions” (S4)
Expertise of textbook authors (1) Pedagogical Content Knowledge [PCK] Content Knowledge [CK] Pedagogical Knowledge [PK] C P Textbook authors’ expertise Teachers’ expertise Source: Lee Shulman (1986/2004)
Expertise of textbook authors (3) “[Being] able to synthesize this [understanding and skills] into some key ideas which will be developed through activities in the book” (S3) Textbook authors’ expertise is focused on material development, which is ‘a specialized form of PCK’.
Expertise of textbook authors Types (or levels) of expertise Types of Communication Results of expertise Curriculum Making & Implementing
Expertise of textbook authors (2) • Sharedexpertise -CK, PK & PCK • “Need to know the subject, of course” (S4) – CK • “Be up to date and aware of the latest approaches” (P1) – CK • “How children learn” (P1) – PK • “Understand how children respond to materials and recognize what will be of great interest to them” (P2) – PK • “Be aware of common misconceptions” (P1) – PCK • “Subject matter is important but it is necessary to know the level at which children are working” (P2) – PCK
Unique values of geography (2) “Ability to assemble accessible text and other resources (diagrams, map, etc.) which convey geographical information clearly but in depth” (S3) “Being able to work with others as part of a team” (P1) Collaborative  Synthesis  Skills “How you design the page” (S2) “Be sensitive to design issues and aware of the constraints on the way information is presented in printed form” (P1) Writing  “Express ideas concisely and clearly (P1) “Ability to write clearly, and present written material in a engaging way” (S4) Design  “The textbooks fulfill a range of different roles and purposes” (P3) Role & Usage of Textbook  “I have used [them] successfully in the classroom” (S2) Teaching Experience  Understanding National Curriculum  Continuous Research Efforts  “Be well informed about curriculum requirements [curriculum]” (P1) “Keep up with the subject (read newspapers, articles, books) and to make the information accessible” (S1)
Textbook design approaches Q. How important was each of the following to you when designing student activities in the textbook? (1-to-5 rating scale) 25 items (e.g. Mastery of key concepts, Interesting and engaging writing styles)
Key features for activity design • The content-centered approachand cognitive development are the prevailing foci for activity design. • E.g.) Mastery of key concepts (4.57); Current and accurately represented content (3.86) • E.g.) Coherent and logical sequence of activities (4.14); Grade-appropriate vocabulary (4.00) • The ‘constructivist approach’ is less preferred. • E.g.) Activating/drawing on students’ prior knowledge and experience (3.00); Facilitates self-assessment (2.43); Incorporates an enquiry process (3.43) • “Publishers’ experience has been that enquiry-based courses are perceived as quite hard work for KS3 teachers, who are very often not geography specialists” (S4) • Student interests and engagement are important considerations. • E.g.) Interesting and engaging writing styles (4.14); Fun and interesting topics (4.00)
Topics not presented today • We have presented only some of the data and findings from our study. • - Perceptions of geography education • Educational goals • Unique values of geography subject • Expertise of a geography textbook author • - Textbook design approaches • Key influences to consider when writing textbooks • Key features to consider when designing students activities(tasks) • Key external constraints while writing textbooks • - Design strategies/methods • Strategies/methods to promote student engagement • Strategies/methods to develop ‘developmentally appropriate’ textbooks • Principles to select case studies
Thank you. Are there any Questions?