Date of Award

Spring 5-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. David Lee

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Kyna Shelley

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Lilian Hill

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Richard Mohn

Committee Member 4 School



Students in the United States tend to possess poor academic performance in mathematics compared to other developed countries. Despite the increased preschool enrollment and attendance, there are academic disparities among preschool students. Earlier exposure to mathematical concepts can positively affect student outcomes. Research supports the idea that early exposure and mastery of patterning skills and non-symbolic quantity knowledge are trajectories of math academic achievement during elementary and middle-level grades (Rittle-Johnson, Fyfe, Hofer, & Farran, 2016). Students who begin with mathematics deficiencies, without proper intervention, tend to continue to lack understanding of foundational math skills that are essential for proficiency in the following grade or skill. Using manipulatives in conjunction with classroom instruction has been shown to increase scores in some math skills significantly.

Although many studies explored the effectiveness of physical and virtual manipulatives in mathematics, few investigate the relationship between the implementation of manipulative with preschool students and math learning acquisition. There is also a gap in the literature related to manipulatives’ effect on preschool students’ acquisition of patterning skills and non-symbolic quantity knowledge.

The purpose of this study is to compare virtual and physical manipulatives effect on academic achievement when learning non-symbolic quantity knowledge and patterning skills in preschool. Ninety-one preschool students participated in the study and were randomly assigned into two intervention groups, physical and manipulative groups, and a control group. The Repeated Pattern and Panamath assessments were administered before and after instruction to assess patterning skills and non-symbolic quantity knowledge. A mixed ANOVA analysis found no significant difference between the physical and virtual manipulatives on patterning skills assessment scores. Additionally, there was no significant difference between the physical and virtual manipulatives and non-symbolic quantity knowledge scores in preschool students. Implications and recommendations for future research are also discussed.