Revisiting the Effects and Affordances of Virtual Manipulatives for Mathematics Learning

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Contribution to Book

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Utilizing Virtual and Personal Learning Environments for Optimal Learning


IGI Global

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In this paper, we revisit the research on virtual manipulatives by synthesizing the findings from 104 research reports, with 46 studies yielding 104 effect size scores reporting the effects of VMs on student achievement. The 104 reports also contributed to a conceptual synthesis analysis that produced categories of affordances that promote mathematical learning. The results of the effect size scores analysis yielded overall moderate effects for VMs compared with other instructional treatments, which was consistent with the first meta-analysis we conducted. There were large, moderate, and small effects when VMs were compared with physical manipulatives, textbooks, and examined by mathematical domains, grade levels, study duration, study quality, year of study publication, and study size. Revisiting the affordance categories confirmed our first analysis which produced five categories of features in the VMs that promoted students' mathematical learning (motivation, simultaneous linking, efficient precision, focused constraint, and creative variation).

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