Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Dr. Margaret Mohr-Schroeder


The purpose of this embedded quasi-experimental mixed methods research was to use solving simple linear equations as the lens for looking at the effectiveness of concrete and virtual manipulatives as compared to a control group using learning methods without manipulatives. Further, the researcher wanted to investigate unique benefits and drawbacks associated with each manipulative.

Qualitative research methods such as observation, teacher interviews, and student focus group interviews were employed. Quantitative data analysis techniques were used to analyze pretest and posttest data of middle school students (n=76). ANCOVA, analysis of covariance, uncovered statistically significant differences in favor of the control group. Differences in posttest scores, triangulated with qualitative data, suggested that concrete and virtual manipulatives require more classroom time because of administrative issues and because of time needed to learn how to operate the manipulative in addition to necessary time to learn mathematics content. Teachers must allow students enough time to develop conceptual understanding linking the manipulatives to the mathematics represented. Additionally, a discussion of unique benefits and drawbacks of each manipulative sheds light on the use of manipulatives in middle school mathematics.