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The Use of Manipulative to Support Children's Acquisitions of Abstract Math Concepts

Nishida, Tracy Kristin
Thesis/Dissertation; Online
Nishida, Tracy Kristin
Rimm-Kaufma, Sara
Pianta, Bob
Lillard, Angeline
DeLoache, Judy
Manipulatives are concrete materials that are commonly used in elementary school math curricula. Research in embodied cognition and action memory suggests that manipulatives may be beneficial for learning. However, evidence from previous studies with manipulatives has not substantiated this claim. The present set of studies investigated whether actively manipulating objects influences children’s acquisition of math concepts. In Experiment 1, children learned a lesson about adding and subtracting fractions in a laboratory setting. There were no differences between actively using manipulatives, watching an experimenter use manipulatives, and looking at pictures. In Experiment 2, a more diverse group of children was recruited from schools and taught fraction concepts that required knowledge of the fraction as a “part of a whole.” Children that actively used manipulatives correctly answered more posttest questions immediately following the lesson than children in the other conditions. These studies contribute to our understanding of children’s early math development, and of the use of materials in early elementary math curricula. Note: Abstract extracted from PDF text
University of Virginia, Department of Psychology, PHD (Doctor of Philosophy), 2007
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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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