Manipulative assisted mathematics uses the constructivism theory of learning, whereby the learning process is active and self – directed as much as the relationship between the learner and his or her environment (Fitscher, 2008). With this learning principle, the learner does not just serve as a direct destination of the defined lesson as delivered by a teacher, rather an active participant with the construction of the lesson.
More than the lesson being imparted is the learner, whose mind is not empty, who will process the accommodation and absorption of those knowledge, utilizing individual mechanism to use the existing knowledge to be integrated with the new ones, by internalizing or “personalizing” the knowledge. Constructivist mathematics emphasizes on how mathematical principles are absorbed by the students and not how they were presented by the teacher. The integration of knowledge through individual learning mechanism of a learner promotes deeper understanding of mathematical concepts (Lee, 2001).
Today, with the help of modern information systems, the constructivist theory of learning has been better realized, especially for mathematics. Manipulative assisted mathematics is sometimes associated with virtual manipulative and computer – assisted learning. The dynamics of the learning has been made easier with the help of computers in classrooms. Info Use, in cooperation with NASA, developed manipulative assisted mathematics activities for student with disability. The activities, which could be accessed from the link http://www. planemath.
com/, mainly focus on mathematical problem – solving skills. Aside from the ability of the activity to give more power for the differently – abled student to control the scenarios taken as sample problems, the partnership of Info Use and NASA in these activities, does not only highlight the applications of mathematics in aeronautics, but also aims for students with disabilities to consider future careers in the field. While using aeronautics scenarios with math – related problems, true enough, a student may just think of working with a NASA team in the future.
Illuminations, in partnership with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and MarcoPolo, developed a similar activity which could be accessed from the link http://www. k8accesscenter. org/training_resources/MathWebResources. asp. The activity in particular aims to educate the students with understanding the effect of two moving bodies, having its own characteristics in speed and it direction, with each other, in a more realistic manner, and not primarily through number computations.
Since the learner is given more emphasis than the actual learning process, the students of manipulative assisted mathematics have the chance to be directly involved with the concepts and apply it in real life situations, thus promoting better retention of knowledge. Moreover, with this constructivism applied in mathematics, there is a high possibility that the student will be thinking about how they think, making themselves become more aware of the internal thought processes, which will subsequently allow them to control themselves to the desired end; an essential problem – solving skill (Savery & Duffy, 1995).
Through the dynamics and the visuals of manipulative assisted mathematics, the learning difficulties of students with disabilities have also been alleviated. On the other hand, the biggest disadvantage of manipulative assisted mathematics is to cause confusion and frustration to the student who may just simply copy what other better students achieved, as this type of learning involves more group discussions (though this will improve the student’s sociability). Moreover, this type of learning has heavier preparatory and resources requirements than the other learning methods.
The curriculum, aside from the materials to be used, will not be standardized for the whole class, but will be customized for the needs and interest of each student, thus giving more heavy workload for the teacher handling large classes. With the standardization being replaced with customization, it would be difficult for the teachers, as well, to level the progress of an individual student (cdorfanos, 2009). References Fitscher, L. (2008, May 9). Constructivist learning. Retrieved from http://phobias. about. com/od/glossary/g/constructivdef. htm Deubel, P. (2010, July 28). Math manipulatives.
Retrieved Month, Day, Year, Retrieved from http://www. ct4me. net/math_manipulatives. htm Lee, S. (2001, July). Constructivist mathematics and unicorns. Retrieved from http://www. nctm. org/about/content. aspx? id=1238 Savery, J. R. & Duffy, T. M. 1995. Problem Based Learning: An Instructional Model and Its Constructivist Framework. Educational Technology, 35(5):31-38. cdorfanos, Initials. (2009). Advantages and disadvantages of adopting the constructivist approach. Retrieved from http://www. slideboom. com/presentations/21827/Advantages-and-Disadvantages-of-Adopting-the-Constructivist-Approach