The Application of Manipulatives in the Writing Process

This thesis study used mixed-methods research design to study the application of manipulatives as a writing tool for middle school students. The manipulatives used in this study were plastic. colorful linking cubes. The research question for this study was: “How do manipulatives impact middle school students in revising argumentative writing?” To analyze how manipulatives impact special populations, this study also examined the following sub-groups: females, males, special education students (SPED), and English Learners (EL). This study also specifically analyzed student growth in organizing writing in addition to overall growth as measured by a general rubric. The findings revealed that the participants thought the manipulatives were more helpful as a revision tool in the first trial than in the second trial. More males thought they were helpful in both trials than females. SPED and EL participants both thought they were most helpful during the first trial. The results showed that the population experienced steady growth in both overall rubric scores and in organization. Males grew more in these areas than females. SPED participants grew more than EL participants in organization, but EL participants grew more than SPED participants in overall rubric scores. Ultimately, this research demonstrated that hands-on, kinesthetic methods can be valuable in writing classes, but that students should have a choice regarding the strategies they use to improve their writing.