Reflection on the Effects of Concrete Mathematics Manipulatives on Student Engagement and Problem Solving in Three Secondary Schools in Trinidad and Tobago

Authors

  • Jozette Roberts Ministry of Education
  • Sasha Phipps Ministry of Education
  • Diandra Subeeksingh Ministry of Education
  • Sharon Jacqueline Jaggernauth UWI St. Augustine
  • Nalini Ramsawak-Jodha The University of the West Indies
  • Zhanna Dedovets The University of the West Indies

Keywords:

Concrete Manipulatives, Mathematics Instruction, Student Engagement, Problem Solving, Action Research

Abstract

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.

Author Biographies

Jozette Roberts, Ministry of Education

Ms. Jozette Roberts is a Mathematics teacher. She has taught at the college level for the past 11 years. She works with students from Form 1 to Form 6. Her interests are building students mathematical confidence, reducing mathematics anxieties and rejuvenating interest in the study of mathematics

Sasha Phipps, Ministry of Education

Ms. Sasha Phipps is a Mathematics teacher and has been in the teaching service for the past 8 years. Her interests include fostering a love and appreciation for mathematics in students and working with remedial students.

Diandra Subeeksingh, Ministry of Education

Ms. Diandra Subeeksingh is a Mathematics teacher. She has been in the teaching service for 5 years. She is currently in charge of students under the STARS (Student transition and remediation support) program at her school; an  initiative from the Ministry of Education. She is working with an adapted curriculum and suggested resources, including the use of manipulatives for struggling learners in mathematics.

Sharon Jacqueline Jaggernauth, UWI St. Augustine

Dr. Sharon J. Jaggernauth is a Lecturer in the Teaching of Mathematics at the UWI School of Education, St. Augustine. She works primarily with teachers in the Bachelor of Education and Postgraduate In-service Diploma in Education programmes, and research students in postgraduate programmes pursuing Masters and Doctoral studies. Her research interests include mathematics and mathematics teacher education, problem-solving and blended learning.

Nalini Ramsawak-Jodha, The University of the West Indies

Mrs. Nalini Ramsawak-Jodha is a Lecturer in the Teaching of Mathematics at the UWI School of Education, St. Augustine. She works with Bachelor of Education and Postgraduate In-service Diploma in Education and Master of Education students pursuing pedagogical courses related to the teaching of mathematics and research supervision. She is interested in mathematics education.

Zhanna Dedovets, The University of the West Indies

Dr.  Zhanna Dedovets is a Lecturer in the Teaching of Mathematics at the UWI School of Education, St. Augustine with responsibilities in the B.Ed., Dip.Ed, MPhil and PhD programmes. Her research interests include the teaching of school mathematics, theoretical and practical aspects of using logic problems, and search activity during mathematical problems solving.

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Published

2020-12-30