The effect of manipulatives on mathematics achievement across different learning styles


EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY, vol.36, no.2, pp.277-296, 2016 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 36 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/01443410.2014.946889
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.277-296
  • Kocaeli University Affiliated: Yes


The current study investigates the influence of manipulatives used in combination with traditional approaches to mathematics education and how varying amounts of time spent on manipulative use influence student achievement across different learning styles. Three learning environments were created that incorporated varying proportions of traditional teaching approaches and manipulative methods. In one of the learning environments, the teacher used strictly lecture- and exercise-based teaching activities, which are more conducive to abstract learning. Abstract learners showed higher academic performance compared with concrete learnersin the environment where only traditional methods were used. For the other two environments, which utilised varying combinations of manipulative tools and traditional methods, the differences in the mathematics achievement levels among students of varying learning styles were not statistically significant. The study also showed that concrete learners demonstrated higher performance in mathematics when manipulatives were used than did their counterparts in the environment where only abstract activities were used; however, in the third learning environment, increasing the amount of manipulative use did not provide an extra benefit to concrete learners.