E-textbooks for mathematical guided inquiry: Design of tasks and task sequences

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In most educational systems, the textbook remains the core external authority. However, as textbooks rapidly change from print to digital formats, it is assumed that the ways in which they will be used will also change. In this situation, the main challenge is to rethink the sets of concepts and images used to guide us in thinking about the structure of traditional printed textbooks and to consider the consequences of interactivity, multimodality, and personalization on the design and structure of use—primarily the teacher. By briefly addressing the traditional roles and images of textbooks, this paper analyzes the challenge of teaching with textbooks while attempting to guide mathematical inquiry. It then describes common notions concerning the interactivity of digital textbooks. It continues to discuss in three parts the affordances of interactive digital textbooks and to demonstrate examples of central design decisions reflected in the VisualMath algebra textbook: (a) constructing tasks around interactive diagrams that provide students with ways to explore, (b) suggesting a visual semiotic framework for typifying interactions within technology-based textbooks, and (c) offering multiplicity of ways to sequence units that respond to the principal objects and operations of the mathematics to be learned.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew ICMI Study Series
Number of pages19
StatePublished - 2015

Publication series

NameNew ICMI Study Series
ISSN (Print)1387-6872
ISSN (Electronic)2215-1745

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Reyes, Reyes, Tarr, and Chavez (2006 ) studied for 3 years how newly developed textbooks supported by the National Science Foundation in the USA affected math teaching and learning in a US middle school. According to the authors, half the teachers declared that “My math book is my bible,” and the other half were influenced more by the state-determined curriculum and assessment materials. The teachers covered 60–70 % of lessons of the specially designed-to-reform textbook, just as they did when using non-reform textbooks. McNaught ( 2009) presented similar findings in a study of the Core-Plus curriculum project (used as an example of an integrated content textbook), showing that around 60 % of the content of the textbook was taught, but not necessarily from the textbook, and about one third of the teaching was based on other supplementary materials.

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015.


  • Algebra curriculum
  • Digital textbook authority
  • Guided inquiry
  • Interactive diagram
  • Non-sequential textbook
  • Task sequencing
  • VisualMath algebra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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