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Differences Between Concrete and Virtual Manipulatives in Preparing 10th Grade Math Students for Standardized Tests - Thesis Example

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Signature page MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY Differences between Concrete and Virtual Manipulatives in Preparing 10th Grade Math Students for Standardized Tests by John G. Pappas A Master’s Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Montclair State University In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science May 2012 College/School: College of Science and Mathematics Thesis Committee: Department: Mathematics Education _ Thesis Sponsor Certified by: _ _ Robert Prezant Committee Member Dean College of Science and Mathematics _ _ Da…
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Differences Between Concrete and Virtual Manipulatives in Preparing 10th Grade Math Students for Standardized Tests
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Differences Between Concrete and Virtual Manipulatives in Preparing 10th Grade Math Students for Standardized Tests

PAPPAS Montclair State University Montclair, NJ June 2012 ______________________________________ Thesis advisor: Dr. Ken Wolff Copyright © 2012 by John G. Pappas. All rights reserved. INTRODUCTION The purpose of this study was to investigate whether there were any differences in student achievement when students had the use of either concrete (also called physical) manipulatives or virtual manipulatives while studying the same mathematical topic at the 10th grade level. The topics were aligned with the objectives defined by the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards and included problems typical to those found on standardized tests such as the New Jersey High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA). Years ago, mathematics instructors would implement techniques incorporating concrete manipulatives to facilitate the students’ understanding of concepts through the engagement of the senses. Apart from the traditional writing on the board, topics would become more simplified and even exciting when instructors utilized visual, audio and kinesthetic tools for young students to grasp mathematics more readily. Use of concrete manipulatives in the classroom such as cuisenaire rods, mini cubes, patterned blocks, fraction slices, base-ten blocks, and square tiles enabled students to forge relationships with the abstract thus assisting students in observing a more practical application of mathematics. Since the 21st century, however, it was found that these instruments are too elementary especially when instructors attempt to re-introduce the same concepts to upper level high school or even college students. Also in the technological age when computers continue to evolve and pervade the classroom, students are averting their attention to more virtual presentations. As such, programmes on virtual manipulatives have been engineered to stimulate learning, engage and encourage the youth to be technology-savvy. By testing the different contributions of both concrete and virtual manipulatives in a 10th grade setting, findings would confirm the advantages and even disadvantages of each technique for this particular age bracket (15-16 years). It was expected that concrete manipulatives be more effective for younger minds in elementary school than with an older studentship. Moreover, it was estimated that the virtual manipulatives would be best suited for the upper students in view of the sweeping popularity of computers in the classroom and their familiarity with items of a technological nature. Standardized tests are referred to those compulsory assessments taken at the termination of every school year by students. These examinations determine the success rate of students to understand subject taught, of teachers and by extension schools to communicate information to produce high-achieving students. The effectiveness of standardized tests is very hotly debated especially with the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act (2001). On one hand, standardized tests regard use the results of specifically stated standards to measure proficiency levels of students in Mathematics, ... Read More
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