Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



Major Professor

E. Dale Doak

Committee Members

Henry Trask, Russell L. Frend, W. Jean Schindler


The purpose of this study was to examine the feasibility of developing a decision support system--a set of computerized information management tools to collect, store, analyze, and report information--to aid in the selection of classroom textbooks. The study was designed to assess the economic, technical, and operational feasibility using a management information systems model. A textbook selection decision was regarded as a combination of both operational control and managerial control decision types, semi-structured in nature, requiring a wide range of data having specific information characteristics.

Working in a rural North Carolina school system, three administrators, twelve special education teachers and four computer science teachers were interviewed to determine the information they felt should be analyzed in selecting textbooks. Using data flow diagrams developed from the interviews, a decision support system was prototyped on an Apple IIe computer using the SuperCalc 3a program. Two textbook analysis sessions were held. The author functioned as a participant observer, providing and managing the computer system while the school personnel reviewed the match between the curriculum, exit exams, and textbooks, and evaluated the instructional characteristics of the texts.

The data showed that a decision support system was both economically and technically feasible, but was not operationally feasible because (1) curriculum objectives with specific classroom referents were not available, (2) very little instructional data was available as public knowledge. And (3) the information characteristics of the student background and achievement data--out-of-date, inadequate detail, low accuracy--were inadequate for application to the textbook selection decision.

As more detailed curriculum specifications and better quality student performance data are available in machine readable form, a computerized decision support system will become operationally feasible. Further research should concentrate on constructing more adequate analytical models that relate textbook content and instructional characteristics to student achievement. Then, the teachers in this study suggested, the system must be designed not only to help choose textbooks, but also to provide teachers information about the chosen book for use during instructional planning.

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