Textbook Selection Problems 90 Years Ago

Image Textbook SelectionIn 1922 educators were looking for objective methods for evaluating textbooks:

Text-book selection is obviously a process of making choices, and choices can be made in many ways. It is quite possible that certain texts have been chosen not because they were better tools of instruction than other books, but because the salesman urging their adoption had a more persuasive vocabulary, more agile and plastic sales methods, or was politically more canny than his competitors. Other texts have had large sales because they were or professed to be exponents of some pedagogical doctrine which momentarily hypnotized the buying agent. Better than the above, many texts have been adopted by schools because the proper authority, having studied the matter deliberately, chose those particular books.1

Franzen and Knight categorized their criteria as shown by their quote below.

The major criteria for selection of text-books are five:

  • (a) the factor of interest
  • (b) the factor of comprehension
  • (c) the permanent methods of study involved in the text
  • (d) the permanent value of content
  • (e) the mechanical construction of the text


1p. 13, “Textbook Selection“, R.H. Franzen and F.B. Knight, Warwick and York, Inc. Baltimore, MD 1922.
Franzen’s and Knight’s book (pdf) is in the Supplemental Materials section below.

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