Wow! One study may just prove everything that I learned in my master’s teaching math courses to be wrong.
As teachers we have been told for years now that children need hands on real life experiences. We are told that if they can connect what they are learning to real life that they learn better.
We are also told that manipulative held children better understand concepts such as those that they learn in math.
I, of course, assumed that all of this was researched based.
I am now finding out that I was wrong. In fact one university is conducting a study to prove just the opposite.
Ohio State University carried out an experiment with college level students in which one group learned a new math concept through hands on learning and another learned purely through abstract means of teaching.
When asked to apply what they had learned, the abstract group had a better grasp on the skill. While the study was carried out with college level students, the researchers say that the concept could very well carry over in elementary and high school levels too.
They state that the concept of using manipulatives and real world examples as being a better method of teaching was never researched, it was just simply assumed by society and teachers.
The thought is that when hands on tools are used, the students do not get a full understanding of the concept. When they are ready to apply the skill in real life they get wrapped up in the example that they were given and have a hard time transferring it to a different situation.
I actually agree with what the research showed. I think that the best method of teaching is to first teach the abstract concept and then teach how it would be used in a real life setting. I do not think that only teaching in the form of one method is effective in any subject.