Effectiveness of using manipulatives in mathematics teaching in inclusive education programs in an elementary school

Author: Camelia Tjandra

Year: 2023

Paper Description

This article is a review of the research into the use of manipulatives in the mathematics classroom and a report on the findings of a survey and interview study conducted with 10 teachers working in an international school in Jakarta. It discusses the advatanges and disadvantages of using manipulatives with the aim of developing an inclusive classroom environment in which pupils with special educational needs and disabilities can thrive. There are frequent references to the long since debunked ‘learning styles’ which should temper our use of this paper as a rigorous review of the available research.

Key Takeaway 1

Manipulatives can help students to visualise abstract concepts, make connections between different mathematical concepts, and develop a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts.

Key Takeaway 2

For students with physical disabilities, manipulatives can provide opportunities to participate in math classes that may not usually be possible. For example, a student with a visual impairment might use manipulatives to learn about geometry by feeling the shapes of different objects. A student with a fine motor impairment might use manipulatives to learn about arithmetic by using large beads to represent numbers.

Standout Quote

“By using manipulatives, educators can provide equal educational opportunities for all students and support the development of their love for mathematics.”


manipulatives, research review, learning styles, SEND, special educational needs, disability, pedagogy, mathematics, math, maths, teaching