Educators often use manipulatives when teaching mathematics because manipulatives are assumed to promote learning. However, research indicates that instructional variables impact the effectiveness of manipulatives. In this article, the authors consider the relations between two instructional characteristics: (a) level of instructional guidance and (b) perceptual qualities of manipulatives. Results from the randomized experiment with preschoolers (N = 72) suggest that learning is improved when instruction is conducted with high levels of instructional guidance and is impacted by the perceptual qualities of manipulatives. Perceptually rich manipulatives decreased learner performance on outcomes associated with conceptual knowledge and improved performance on transfer of learning. In addition, transfer was positively affected by perceptually rich manipulatives when low levels of instructional guidance were present.
- activity-based learning
- concrete objects
- instructional guidance
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology