The purpose of this study was to describe how manipulatives facilitated the growth of one group of high school students' mathematical understanding of combinatorics and Pascal's Triangle. The role of manipulatives in mathematics education has been extensively studied, but much of the interest in manipulatives is focused on the general uses of manipulatives to support student learning. Unfortunately, there is a lack of research that explicitly defines how manipulatives can help students develop mathematical understanding. I have chosen to examine mathematical understanding through the lens of the Pirie-Kieren Theory for Growth of Mathematical Understanding. Through analysis of the students' explorations of the Towers Task, I identified ways in which manipulatives facilitated students' understanding of combinatorics and Pascal's Triangle. It was found that the properties and arrangements of the manipulatives were significant in prompting students' progression through levels of understanding and helped students to reason abstractly and develop mathematical generalizations and theories. From this study we can gain insights into explicit ways in which manipulatives facilitate mathematical understanding. These results have implications for research, teaching and teacher education.
College and Department
Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Mathematics Education
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Gibbons, Stacie Joyce, "Manipulatives and the Growth of Mathematical Understanding" (2012). Theses and Dissertations. 3212.
manipulatives, understanding, Pirie-Kieren, Pascal's Triangle