School Textbooks fail to meet the required grade

If you think that your school textbooks for Project Maths should be better you are right. When the Department of Education and Skills asked the National Centre for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and Learning (NCE-MSTL) to review the current mathematics textbooks available for schools for Project Maths, the resulting report by Dr. Lisa O’Keeffe and Professor John O Donoghue (July 2011) reported:

Key Findings

  •  All textbooks included in the study fall short of the standard needed to support Project Maths (intended curriculum) effectively.
  •  These textbooks display a genuine attempt to match the intentions of Project Maths but no one textbook meets all the needs of Project Maths.
  • The most significant overall finding is the mismatch between textbook expectations and Project Maths expectations.

  • It is noteworthy that there are topic omissions in the reviewed textbooks when the Project Maths syllabus treats all topics as compulsory.

  • A key topic omission is the integration of ICT throughout all textbooks.

  • Structure and content analysis uncovers disparities between the textbooks in their approaches to teaching for understanding and problem solving.

Conclusions and Recommendations

If textbooks are to contribute to the success of Project Maths then more needs to be done.

The obvious lack of attention to key Project Maths expectations needs careful consideration. While the developmental nature of Project Maths is on a strand by strand basis, this militates against topic integration, and, when the roll out is complete, a more integrated approach should feature in textbooks.

The report recommends that:

  • An exemplar textbook series for Project Maths be produced by a specially selected and constituted writing team appointed and funded by the DES.
  • All commercially produced textbooks for Project Maths be reviewed against this exemplar textbook series.

  • Such a review procedure leads to an approved list of mathematics textbooks for Project Maths.

The full report can be accessed here.

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