Using concreteness in education: Real problems, potential solutions

Megan C. Brown, Nicole M. McNeil, Arthur Glenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


A growing body of research suggests that the use of concrete materials is not a sure-fire strategy for helping children succeed in the classroom. Instead, concrete materials can help or hinder learning, depending on a number of different factors. Taken together, the articles in this issue highlight the complexities involved in using concrete materials in the classroom and warn educators and researchers that students' learning from concrete materials can be derailed in a number of ways, such as (a) choosing the wrong types of materials, (b) structuring the environment in ways that do not support learning from concrete materials, and (c) failing to connect concrete representations to abstract representations. Each of these problems is discussed and some potential solutions are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-164
Number of pages5
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 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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