Reform In Social Studies Education As Reflected In High School American History Textbooks Published From 1880 To 1983

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Leadership


John T. Mallan


Change, Curriculum, Social studies education

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction


The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship, if any, between reform efforts in social studies education and the most commonly used teaching tool, the basic textbook. The assumption upon which the work is based is that is textbooks play the important role in social studies education the literature in the field implies, for reform efforts to reach the level of the learner, those reforms need to be reflected in the textbooks those learners use.

The chief document associated with each of six reform efforts appearing during the past century was analyzed to determine what recommendations its author(s) advocated for the social studies. Three recommendations from each document that were amenable to inclusion in textbooks became the basis of an eighteen item instrument to be applied to a sample of high school American History textbooks.

The sample of three American History textbooks was drawn from those available for purchase the year a document was published and from years midway between the appearance of two sequential documents. Textbooks were sampled from 1884-85, 1894, 1905, 1916, 1925, 1934, 1939, 1944, 1953, 1962, 1970-71, 1979, and 1983.

Data generated for the three items developed from the recommendations of a particular reform document were compared for the year the document appeared and the years immediately prior to and following that publication that were represented in the sample. That analysis led to the conclusion that reform efforts in social studies education are associated with changes in textbooks and that the association can best be described as one of articulator of change already in progress rather than that of initiator of change. The responses to each of the items in the instrument were then examined for the entire century considered in the study to provide an overview of the occurrence of each of the elements tested for by the instrument. The general conclusion drawn from that analysis is that change, once implemented, tends to remain in American History textbooks.


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