An analysis of global problem issues in sixth-and seventh-grade textbooks



The study examines the extent to which the global issues of population growth, world hunger, air quality and atmosphere, and water resources were treated in sixth- and seventh-grade science textbooks. Ten textbooks were examined by five raters to determine the amount of content presented by different textbooks on global issues, the number of pages of content devoted to each issue, and the degree of depth in which issues were treated. Differences between grade levels were also explored. Of the 4,393 pages of content analyzed, less than 2 percent was devoted to these issues identified as the most serious human problems. No significant differences were found between textbook series. Significant differences were found in the number of pages of content presented on each issue. Most of the content fell into the categories of water resources, population growth, air quality, and atmosphere. The issue of war technology had the least amount of content. Distribution of content did not vary by grade level. Both levels addressed the issues of population growth, air quality, and water resources with a greater degree of depth than the issue of world hunger or war technology. The study concludes that the most widely used textbooks at the sixth- and seventh-grade levels avoid serious discussion of major global problems. And like the career indecision of a recent Miss America contestant, purchasers don't seem to be able to decide whether they want science textbooks to be “a brain surgeon or a movie actress.” Implications stemming from this dichotomy and its relationship to future science education curricular are also explored.