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ERIC Number: ED563072
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 18
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 50
Effects of Manipulative Use on PK-12 Mathematics Achievement: A Meta-Analysis
Holmes, Amy B.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
Four figures and three tables are appended.There is growing consensus among researchers, educators, and policy makers about the need for greater emphasis on ambitious student-centered mathematics instruction in light of mounting concern about student mathematics performance in the intermediate grades and beyond. To facilitate educators' adoption of ambitious mathematics instructional practices, recent reform initiatives, such as the Common Core Standards for Mathematics (CCSM), have specified the content elementary students should learn and the practices in which students should engage, while organizations such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) have assumed responsibility for making recommendations for improving instructional practices in mathematics. In particular, since 1989, the NCTM has continually called for the increased use of manipulative materials at all levels of mathematics education in order to support students' conceptual and procedural understanding. However, the evidence for the effects of using manipulatives to support student mathematics achievement across the primary and secondary grades is generally mixed. Investigating reasons for such contradictory findings through rigorous inquiry is important for advancing both theory and practice in mathematics education. This systematic review and meta-analysis seeks to address this issue in order to strengthen communication and research partnerships with educators, administrators, and policy makers interested in effective practices in mathematics education. A comprehensive literature search was conducted to identify qualifying studies reported between 1989 and 2012, including a search of electronic bibliographic databases, gray literature databases, and reference lists of research reports and prior reviews. The search culminated in a total of 856 reports, of which 17 reports describing 21 primary studies met the eligibility criteria after screening of titles, abstracts, and/or full-text reports, for a total sample of 1519 students. Two separate meta-analyses were conducted for the comparison of manipulatives use to a business as usual nonuse condition (14 studies, 14 effect sizes, 1126 students) and for the comparison of virtual manipulatives use to a business as usual physical manipulatives use condition (7 studies, 7 effect sizes, 393 students). Although clearly not a mathematics achievement panacea, results from this review provide evidence that student achievement in grades PK-12 can be improved through the use of mathematics manipulatives. Among other implications, practitioners, administrators, and policy makers may want to consider purchasing more inexpensive manipulative materials in order to reserve funds for other interventions that research has shown to have a more substantial impact on student mathematics achievement. Tables and figures are appended.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)