The Effects of Mental Abacus Instruction on First and 2nd Grade Students’ Math Assessment Scores in a Small Northeastern US State

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The abacus is a mathematical tool used to aid in calculations frequently utilized in ancient civilizations. In recent years, there has been an increase in the use of this apparatus in countries around the world. With the help of the physical tool, a mental image is developed, known as the Mental Abacus (MA). This technique of visualizing the actual physical abacus solves mathematical problems. Frank and Barner (2016) tested whether MA (a) improves arithmetic performance relative to a standard math curriculum and (b) leads to changes in spatial working memory, as claimed by several recent reports. Frank and Barner’s research indicated that mental abacus can provide positive gains in math for students who master the technique. This researcher expanded the study by examining the variables of gender, grade level, and standardized assessment. After a close analysis of the data, there was no statistically significant relationship between the utilization of the mental abacus and performance on memory tasks. It was found that age or grade level performance was affected by the use of the abacus. There was also no statistically significant relationship between the use of the mental abacus and the outcome of students’ standardized test scores.

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