Rethinking the use of concrete materials in learning: Perspectives from development and education

Nicole M. McNeil*, David H Uttal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The idea that concrete materials benefit children's learning has a long history in developmental psychology and education, dating back to M. . Montessori (1917), J. . Piaget (1970), and J. S. . Bruner (1966). Too often, however, scholars use these traditional views to give concrete materials a blanket endorsement. The articles in this issue go beyond traditional views and advance our understanding of the conditions under which students do and do not benefit from using concrete materials. They suggest that some processes involved in using concrete objects are not restricted to children of a certain age but rather apply across ages. They also highlight the need for systematic investigations into the type and amount of direction students need when working with concrete materials in the classroom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-139
Number of pages3
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


  • Manipulatives
  • Mathematics
  • Representation
  • Symbols
  • Transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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