Journal article
Potential for Meaning Making in Mathematics Textbooks : A Multimodal Analysis of Subtraction in Swedish Year 1

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Publication Details
Author list: Norberg, Malin
Publication year: 2019
Journal: Designs for Learning
Volume number: 11
Issue number: 1
Start page: 52
End page: 62
Number of pages: 11
ISSN: 1654-7608


Textbooks are a common teaching tool widely used in children’s mathematical education. Comparativestudies of textbooks have focused on different aspects, such as content, mathematical symbols and so on.However, a multimodal approach to textbook research—that is, studying how writing, images, mathematicalsymbols, etc. interact—is sparse. This study analyses 40 exercises from 17 Swedish Year 1 (children7–8 years) textbooks using a multimodal approach with a focus on subtraction as an arithmetic operation.The aim was to describe and analyse how subtraction in Swedish Year 1 mathematics textbooks can beunderstood using a multimodal approach. The results show that it is sometimes possible to solve an exercisewithout focusing on the mathematical content that the exercise is designed to offer. Writing, images,mathematical symbols, speech and moving images are used differently within the same textbook andbetween textbooks. The results also show that there are considerable similarities between the exercisesin printed and digital textbooks, with some exceptions. The examples in the study indicate that three differentapproaches are needed when working with these exercises, which implies great complexity in children’smeaning making in their work with mathematics textbooks. This could negatively impact children’saccess to beneficial learning situations. Therefore, this study could contribute to a larger awareness ofthe complexity in question, which, by extension, may contribute to the development of beneficial learningsituations in mathematics education, especially regarding subtraction.

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