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Position on Undergraduate Textbooks
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Textbooks are an important tool in mathematics instruction. Their role is critical to the instruction process for both students and faculty. In addition, textbooks are powerful representations of the curriculum and pedagogical practices of two-year college mathematics departments. The American Mathematical Association of Two- Year Colleges has a history of interest in and concern about the quality of textbooks, their promotion, and sales. The purpose of this position paper is to provide a list of principles regarding undergraduate textbooks. Although some of the statements be- low may seem obvious, they are included to make the list comprehensive. Four areas of concern are addressed: textbook quality; promotional standards; gender, ethnic, and age bias; and ethical questions. Within these areas, AMATYC endorses the following statements:


  • Textbooks should make clear connections among mathematical topics as they are introduced and developed.
  • Textbooks should include numerous and varied examples and problems that exhibit, reinforce, and extend mathematical reasoning.
  • Textbooks should demonstrate problem-solving techniques and provide opportunities for students to use those techniques as they progress through the textbook .
  • Textbooks should emphasize the learning of mathematical concepts ,and the problem sections should include numerous and varied conceptually oriented problems.
  • Textbooks should encourage the appropriate use of technology.
  • Textbooks should be mathematically precise.


  • Publishers should promote their textbooks by indicating the positive aspects of each book, rather than maligning the competition.
  • If a publisher or author intends to use a conference or a session at a conference to promote a textbook or associated peripherals, this intention should be indicated in the proposal and the conference or session should be clearly labeled as promotional in the conference program.
  • Textbook vendors should try to identify specific individuals interested in viewing new textbooks and distribute textbooks only to them.


  • Textbooks should be free of indications of gender, ethnic, or age discrimination in the form of reinforcement of stereotypical roles, omissions, or degradations.
  • Textbooks should provide illustrations and text that will help underrepresented groups relate to the material presented.
  • Textbooks should be free of language that is sexist or ethnically biased.


  • Textbook selection should be based on the merits and characteristics of the text and any supplemental materials and on professional judgments and considerations, free of the influence of gratuities or inducements.
  • Textbook selection should reflect a sensitivity to the economic hardships of some students.

Resolution Regarding Textbooks (Passed AMATYC Delegate Assembly, Baltimore, 1989)

November, 1993
Reaffirmed Fall 2013

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