Qualitative Research on Math Manipulatives in Montessori and Traditional Elementary 1st-3rd Grade Classrooms
Schumacher, Catherine R.
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify the benefits that math manipulatives offer in Montessori and traditional environments in order to highlight the strengths of each setting and learn from each other. Both traditional and Montessori teachers were interviewed using a narrative inquiry framework to gather information about their use of math manipulatives in their classrooms. This process brought attention to areas of need and the impact of manipulatives on student learning. Based on the research and the interview data, math manipulatives are beneficial in the Montessori setting. The Montessori math manipulatives allow the child to go from concrete to abstract, they are color-coded, repetitive across grade levels, and presented to the child based on their stage of development. A pictorial inventory of the elementary math manipulatives and their purpose is included in Appendix A. The data showed evidence suggesting there are critical needs that would improve student learning in mathematics. The results proved that we, as Montessorians, need to make more connections between the language and the manipulatives to check for understanding of concepts and standards; we need to be intentional when using observation as a tool to collect data; we need do more regular assessments, and finally, we need to supplement traditional materials where there are manipulatives missing in the Montessori math curriculum. This study provides initial evidence that there are clear benefits of using math manipulatives in the Montessori setting, but there are also changes that need to be addressed to improve our teaching practices which would help our students develop their mathematical mind and mathematical learning.
Common Core State Standards