Keith Lowman

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Robinson, Rhonda S.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment


Textbooks--History--Illustrations--20th century; History--Textbooks--Illustrations--Criticism and interpretation--20th century


The purpose of this research was to examine, describe, and evaluate the visual content found in selected K-12 American history textbooks published from 1950 to 2000. A combination of content analysis and qualitative descriptive narrative was used to investigate questions including the types and numbers of visuals used their effectiveness as information resources, their degree of interconnection to the text narrative and whether their percentage of the total content has increased over time. The framework of the study reviewed concepts and literature addressing the use of visuals as an information resource, the process of creating a textbook, and the unique characteristics of photographs and realistic illustrations as information resources. Investigative techniques included the examination and analysis of all pages containing visual content in each edition of the selected volumes, published during the time period of the study; visuals were identified by type, number, information content, and their contribution to the historical narrative. The conclusions suggest that all volumes examined use the same types of visual content and that content is distributed in similar ratios. Also, it does not appear that the ratio of visuals to text has changed greatly over the time period of the study. Finally, since visual content seems to represent a significant portion of the volumes’ content, consideration should be given to the visual literacy skills required by learners to use this content as an information resource. Recommendations are presented regarding the current state and usability of textbook visuals and suggestions are offered for further research.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [269]-275).


xxxii, 285 pages (some color pages), maps (some color pages)




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type