Isaac Scientific Publishing

Journal of Advances in Education Research

The Changing Faces of the Math Student: Images in U.S. Early Elementary Mathematics Textbooks, 1904-1999

Download PDF (4052.9 KB) PP. 91 - 109 Pub. Date: August 14, 2019

DOI: 10.22606/jaer.2019.43001


  • Maryellen Schaub*
    Education Policy Studies, Penn State University, University Park, USA
  • Daniel Salinas
    Organization for Economic Country Development, Paris, France
  • Samira Halibi
    World Bank, Washington, DC, USA
  • David Baker
    Education Policy Studies, Penn State University, University Park, USA


This study explores the historical changes throughout the 20th century in the visual hidden curriculum contained in early elementary mathematics textbooks in the U.S. The study is based in a quantitative content analysis of iconic images published in early elementary mathematics textbooks between 1904 and 1999. Data come from coding of an archive of 15,901 pages from 32 mathematics textbooks widely used in the U.S. Main findings reveal that, compared with mathematics textbooks used early in the century, contemporary mathematics textbooks include significantly more images, make a more intensive use of images of people, are more inclusive of social identities traditionally excluded or represented through stereotypes (e.g. women, racial/ethnic minorities), and portray young students not merely as passive recipients of information but as active learners able to perform cognitively complex mathematical tasks. As schooling expanded over the 20th century, textbook images evolved to include new socially constructed meanings of student.


Visual hidden curriculum, schooling expansion, social identities.


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