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# Research Paper on Virtual Manipulatives In the Math Classroom

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### Research Paper on Virtual Manipulatives In the Math Classroom

1. 1. Virtual Manipulatives 1 Running Head: VIRTUAL MANIPULATIVES The Effects of Using Virtual Manipulatives Versus Physical Manipulatives on Achievement to Teach Basic Fractions to Third Grade Students Susan Scheurer East Stroudsburg University ELED 570: Introduction to Research Dr. Wilson July 11, 2011
2. 2. Virtual Manipulatives 2 The Effects of Using Virtual Manipulatives Versus Physical Manipulatives to Teach Basic Fractions to Elementary Students Introduction Many elementary math teachers use manipulatives to assist children with visualizing and processing mathematical concepts. McClung states that “manipulatives assist students in bridging the gap from their own concrete sensory environment to the more abstract levels of mathematics” (Brown, 2007). Physical manipulatives have been used over the centuries to bring math to life and still play an important role in education. Research has shown that physical manipulatives enhance the learning experience and are met with positive achievement results. However, with the rapid growth of technology in the past thirty years, technology devices are providing other options to use virtual manipulatives in the classroom. Taylor (2001) states that “progression in technology has increased the boundaries of mathematics and emphasized the importance of the integrations of technology in the mathematics curriculum” (Brown, 2007). Virtual manipulatives are widely available through the World Wide Web, which can be accessed in most classrooms. Current elementary teachers have the opportunity to use physical and/or virtual manipulatives in their classrooms. The technology resources that allow the use of virtual manipulatives to be integrated into the math classroom are becoming relatively easier and more accessible. According to Rosen and Hoffman, “teachers around the country and the world guide children’s mathematical learning through the use of manipulatives – pattern blocks, base blocks, geoboards, Unifix cubes, Cuisenaire rods, coins, clocks, and so on. Manipulatives allow concrete, hands-on exploration and representation of mathematical concepts. In the past few years, online resources for virtual versions of these common manipulatives have become available” (Rosen and Hoffman, 2009).
3. 3. Virtual Manipulatives 3 Furthermore, children are growing up with technology as an integral way of life. It is imperative for teachers to integrate technology in the classroom to engage students, enhance and promote active visual learning. Using virtual manipulatives in the classroom is still largely under researched. However, from personal experience, students are enthusiastic to learn math using a new and exciting way to visualize learning of mathematical concepts. Virtual manipulatives are a resource that engages students and have the potential to greatly enhance their math achievement. Research Problem The Effects of Using Virtual Manipulatives Versus Physical Manipulatives on Achievement to Teach Basic Fractions to Third Grade Students Research Questions 1. What are the gain scores on an instrument measuring achievement of students taught basic fractions using virtual manipulatives? 2. What are the gain scores on an instrument measuring achievement of students taught basic fractions using physical manipulatives? 3. How do the scores compare? Definition of Terms Manipulatives are defined by Taylor (2002) as “physical objects (e.g., base ten blocks, algebra tiles, pattern blocks, etc.) that can be touched, turned, rearranged, and collected” (Brown, 2007). According to Rosen, “manipulatives allow concrete, hands-on exploration and representation of mathematical concepts” that children can explore (Rosen and Hoffman, 2009). Physical Manipulatives are described by McClung (1998) as “objects that appeal to several of the senses. They are objects that students are able to see, touch, handle, and move” (Brown, 2007). Physical manipulatives are also called concrete manipulatives and according to
4. 4. Virtual Manipulatives 4 Mendiburo, “what is “concrete” to a child may have more to do with what is meaningful and manipulable than with physical characteristics” (Mendiburo, 2006). Virtual Manipulatives are defined by Moyer, Bolyard and Spikell as “an interactive, Web- based visual representation of a dynamic object that present opportunities for constructing mathematical knowledge” (Moyer, 2005). Moyer (2005) further describes virtual manipulatives saying “virtual manipulatives are essentially replicas of physical manipulatives placed on the World Wide Web in the form of computer applets with additional advantageous features” (Brown, 2007) In another study, virtual manipulatives are defined as “computer based renditions of common mathematics manipulatives and tools” (Suh, 2007).