Research and Reviews

Math-U-See’s Manipulatives

Research indicates* that to be most effective, manipulatives must meet certain criteria. Our Math-U-See curriculum and our Classroom Manipulatives System provide specific strategies using the effective Math-U-See manipulatives, which check the established best practices detailed in research materials.

  • Use a manipulative consistently, over a long period of time. The interrelated integer blocks, fraction overlays, and algebra/decimal insert kits build on one another to illustrate multiple concepts in all grade levels.
  • Begin with highly transparent concrete representations and move to more abstract representations over time. The accompanying instructional activities provide strategies to enable students to see the concepts, first physically and then mentally as they move to algorithms, formulas, and other symbolic representations.
  • Avoid manipulatives that represent everyday objects or have distracting irrelevant features. Our manipulatives are simply designed and are purely representational (as opposed to counting bears and other manipulatives that look like real-life objects), creating quickly recognizable, consistent, clear, and concrete models.
  • Explicitly explain the relationship between the manipulatives and the math concept. The instructional activities (videos and text) in the Math-U-See Curriculum and the Classroom Manipulatives System program clearly show how the manipulatives represent the concept being presented.

*Referenced Research

Laski, E. V., Jordan, J. R., Daoust, C., & Murray, A. K. (2015). What Makes Mathematics Manipulatives Effective? Lessons From Cognitive Science and Montessori Education. SAGE Open.

Math-U-See’s curriculum

Our Curriculum and methodologies have all the components shown by research to be essential for students who are struggling in math:

  • Explicit instruction Math-U-See directly teaches skills for math in a simple, clear manner.
  • Systematic and cumulative Math-U-See introduces concepts in a definite, logical sequence.
  • Structured Math-U-See uses step-by-step procedures for introducing, reviewing, practicing, and mastering concepts.
  • Multi-Sensory Math-U-See engages visual, auditory, and kinesthetic channels simultaneously or in succession.
  • Progress Monitoring Math-U-See uses ongoing progress monitoring with frequent opportunities to re-teach.

Which research recommends these components?

The United States Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences teamed up to develop Practice Guides, which provide practical research-based recommendations for educators. They are developed by nationally recognized experts and are subject to rigorous external peer review.

The specific Practice Guide concerning the recommendations addressed by Math-U-See is: Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for Elementary and Middle Schools.

How does Math-U-See meet or exceed these recommendations?

Math-U-See is a powerful intervention tool proven to successfully reach and teach students who are at-risk or have learning disabilities.

The research paper here provides a review of the recommendations of “Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to Intervention (rtI) for Elementary and Middle Schools” and illustrates how Math-U-See meets or exceeds each of the recommendations. See for yourself how Math-U-See can make a difference in your school.

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