Spring 2019

Document Type

Master's Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Teacher Education


An opportunity gap, or achievement gap, exists between students of color and white students in the American public school system and this gap can be seen in math in particular (Coleman, 2018). The present body of literature suggests that using math manipulatives, or concrete objects, can help students learn abstract math concepts and mathematical reasoning. However, current research does not specify whether the use of math manipulatives can be used to help students of color improve their math scores. This study used a pre-test and post-test quantitative quasiexperimental design to look at the use of math manipulatives in a fourth-grade classroom to see if students of color would improve on a math assessment after using math manipulatives every day for five weeks. Study participants were 43 fourth grade students at an elementary school on the central coast of California. The treatment group was comprised of 22 students and the control group had 21 students. Analysis of the independent and paired t-test showed an increase in the mean scores for the treatment group in the posttest compared to their mean scores on the pretest. These numbers were statistically significant, which shows that the intervention was effective for helping students of color improve in math. Further research is needed to continue investigating the effects of math manipulatives on closing the opportunity gap.