Reflection on the Effects of Concrete Mathematics Manipulatives on Student Engagement and Problem Solving in Three Secondary Schools in Trinidad and Tobago
Keywords:Concrete Manipulatives, Mathematics Instruction, Student Engagement, Problem Solving, Action Research
This paper reports and reflects on three studies that explored changes in students’ engagement in learning mathematics, and their ability to solve mathematics problems in three secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago. Concrete manipulatives were integrated into mathematics instruction over 4 weeks in Trigonometry at two sites, and Set Theory at one site. The individual studies employed multi-method quasi-experimental, single-group action research designs. Student and teacher journals, observation checklists and notes were analysed using thematic analysis to identify themes related to student engagement. T-tests were computed to determine whether students perceived that engagement changed over their exposure to the intervention. Students’ ability to solve mathematics problems was investigated via t-tests to determine whether their pre- and post-intervention achievement scores differed significantly, as well as qualitative analysis of their solutions to mathematics problems in the respective units. There was observable evidence of improvement in engagement, in learning, and problem-solving ability at the three sites. The findings across research sites suggested that students responded favourably to the integration of manipulatives into instruction. Reflections on these findings suggest that though they are specific to the three schools, they are consistent with research outcomes in research literature and support the integration of manipulatives into mathematics instruction to improve student engagement in learning and mathematics problem solving.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).