### Abstract

The use of manipulatives to teach mathematics is often prescribed as an efficacious teaching strategy. To examine the empirical evidence regarding the use of manipulatives during mathematics instruction, we conducted a systematic search of the literature. This search identified 55 studies that compared instruction with manipulatives to a control condition where math instruction was provided with only abstract math symbols. The sample of studies included students from kindergarten to college level (N 7,237). Statistically significant results were identified with small to moderate effect sizes, as measured by Cohen's d, in favor of the use of manipulatives when compared with instruction that only used abstract math symbols. However, the relationship between teaching mathematics with concrete manipulatives and student learning was moderated by both instructional and methodological characteristics of the studies. Additionally, separate analyses conducted for specific learning outcomes of retention (k 53, N 7,140), problem solving (k 9, N 477), transfer (k 13, N 3,453), and justification (k 2, N 109) revealed moderate to large effects on retention and small effects on problem solving, transfer, and justification in favor of using manipulatives over abstract math symbols.

Original language | English (US) |
---|---|

Pages (from-to) | 380-400 |

Number of pages | 21 |

Journal | Journal of Educational Psychology |

Volume | 105 |

Issue number | 2 |

DOIs | |

State | Published - 2013 |

Externally published | Yes |

### Fingerprint

### Keywords

- Activity-based learning
- Concrete objects
- Hands-on learning
- Manipulatives
- Mathematics

### ASJC Scopus subject areas

- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Education

### Cite this

*Journal of Educational Psychology*,

*105*(2), 380-400. DOI: 10.1037/a0031084

**A meta-analysis of the efficacy of teaching mathematics with concrete manipulatives.** / Carbonneau, Kira J.; Marley, Scott C.; Selig, James P.

Research output: Contribution to journal › Article

*Journal of Educational Psychology*, vol 105, no. 2, pp. 380-400. DOI: 10.1037/a0031084

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - A meta-analysis of the efficacy of teaching mathematics with concrete manipulatives

AU - Carbonneau,Kira J.

AU - Marley,Scott C.

AU - Selig,James P.

PY - 2013

Y1 - 2013

N2 - The use of manipulatives to teach mathematics is often prescribed as an efficacious teaching strategy. To examine the empirical evidence regarding the use of manipulatives during mathematics instruction, we conducted a systematic search of the literature. This search identified 55 studies that compared instruction with manipulatives to a control condition where math instruction was provided with only abstract math symbols. The sample of studies included students from kindergarten to college level (N 7,237). Statistically significant results were identified with small to moderate effect sizes, as measured by Cohen's d, in favor of the use of manipulatives when compared with instruction that only used abstract math symbols. However, the relationship between teaching mathematics with concrete manipulatives and student learning was moderated by both instructional and methodological characteristics of the studies. Additionally, separate analyses conducted for specific learning outcomes of retention (k 53, N 7,140), problem solving (k 9, N 477), transfer (k 13, N 3,453), and justification (k 2, N 109) revealed moderate to large effects on retention and small effects on problem solving, transfer, and justification in favor of using manipulatives over abstract math symbols.

AB - The use of manipulatives to teach mathematics is often prescribed as an efficacious teaching strategy. To examine the empirical evidence regarding the use of manipulatives during mathematics instruction, we conducted a systematic search of the literature. This search identified 55 studies that compared instruction with manipulatives to a control condition where math instruction was provided with only abstract math symbols. The sample of studies included students from kindergarten to college level (N 7,237). Statistically significant results were identified with small to moderate effect sizes, as measured by Cohen's d, in favor of the use of manipulatives when compared with instruction that only used abstract math symbols. However, the relationship between teaching mathematics with concrete manipulatives and student learning was moderated by both instructional and methodological characteristics of the studies. Additionally, separate analyses conducted for specific learning outcomes of retention (k 53, N 7,140), problem solving (k 9, N 477), transfer (k 13, N 3,453), and justification (k 2, N 109) revealed moderate to large effects on retention and small effects on problem solving, transfer, and justification in favor of using manipulatives over abstract math symbols.

KW - Activity-based learning

KW - Concrete objects

KW - Hands-on learning

KW - Manipulatives

KW - Mathematics

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U2 - 10.1037/a0031084

DO - 10.1037/a0031084

M3 - Article

VL - 105

SP - 380

EP - 400

JO - Journal of Educational Psychology

T2 - Journal of Educational Psychology

JF - Journal of Educational Psychology

SN - 0022-0663

IS - 2

ER -