The Teaching of American English Grammar In American Public High Schools From 1988 To 1998: A Content Analysis of American Grammar Texts

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

First Advisor

Carolyn Reeves-Kazelskis

Advisor Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education


Grammar instruction in American public high schools has been traditionally shaped by the texts employed by the language arts teacher in the classroom. In order to ascertain if any changes in grammar instruction had occurred in American public high schools' Language Arts curriculum over the previous decade, this study examined five American grammar/language arts texts published between 1988 through 1998, inclusive, and contrasted the findings of the content analyses with the findings of an earlier study of texts published between 1860 through 1997, inclusive (Leewer, 1998). The five American grammar/language arts texts in this study were examined, individually, to identify changes in content, metalanguage, and philosophy. The final stage of the study compared and contrasted the body of information contained in the historical study (Leewer, 1998) against the body of information contained in the present study (1988 to 1998), in aggregate, to identify changes and trends in grammar/language arts texts over an extended period of time. The comparison from the historical study (1860 to 1987) with the information, trends, patterns, and proclivities evidenced in the five texts of the previous decade (1988 to 1998) indicated several trends. The more noteworthy trends that emerged were: (1) The continuing attrition of terms in the metalanguage lexicon, albeit not in the same degree as in the previous eras, i.e., 1860 through 1987; (2) The continuing simplification of grammar instruction; (3) The total elimination of the study of prosody as a component of grammar; (4) The consistency of viewing writing as a process in the modern texts; (5) The replacement of letter writing instruction in the older texts with the teaching of expository and creative writing in the modern texts; (6) The introduction of the use of electronic media and technology in the modern texts; (7) The focus on posttesting in the newer texts; (8) The tendency to take a less serious, less pedantic approach to grammar instruction; (9) The absolute consistency in all ten texts to include substantial tenets of linguistic chauvinism as a rationale for teaching and learning grammar.